Maestro Abbas Ali talks about state of music in Pakistan
KARACHI-With a career spanning over almost two decades, Abbas Ali Khan defines the word ‘iconic’ when it comes to his contributions to the Pakistani entertainment industry be it as a music producer or singer. During the production of a new project, we met up with Khan to talk about the state of Pakistani music.
The Pakistani music industry has gone through a roller coaster ride and is still trying to make its presence be felt within the global market.
Khan’s one of those few music influencers who has continued to create music during the transition of mediums – from television to the digital space. When asked about how music and music publication has changed from then to now, Khan says, “There have been ups and downs but music overall has been the same what has changed is how we listen to the music and how we watch music videos now. Back in those days when I started, there was just one music program called Music Channel Charts and it was very tough to get your song on that because of the scrutiny. Now everyone has their own channel, cost of audio and video equipment has reduced so there is more competition and clutter at the same time. The viewers and listeners want to see and hear music on demand i.e. they will not wait in front of the television screen for a music video to come.”
We might have seen a lot of music coming out of Pakistan right now but not all of it is quality music like it once used to be. Off and on we are introduced to various genres coming out of Pakistan but their numbers are still very limited. We are yet to see more original tracks rather than a bunch of covers and mashups that have become the norm these days. Answering our query about why there’s a lack of original music in present times, Khan says, “That’s a world-wide phenomenon, after the advent of digital media you can now publish your art to the world.A lot of content started hitting our screens and the artist especially new comers wanted a recipe for quick fame so they started giving the listeners something they were familiar with – cover songs and mashups. This formula was so successful that artists started relying more on this rather than working on something original which takes much more time and effort.” A few brands have taken up the task of helping musicians and pumping life while reviving the Pakistani music industry, however this does bring on major concerns about how the commercialism these brands bring with them will affect the work our industry is currently producing.
Being a producer and a singer, we wanted an insight from Khan on how one can remain true to their work without being affected by commercialism, he says, “When you talk about balancing commercial and original work, I have to admit it can become difficult at times because when doing commercial work,one has to work and cater to the directors needs and stay true to the production. When working on original music you have the liberty to just listen to yourself. When I’m working on my own music I often take input from my wife since her musical ideas are really good. Both these things are a challenge and what I do is to try to deliver to the best of my ability and knowledge.” Abbas Ali Khan is one of the few singers who has transitioned from singing to also producing music. “I really enjoy Producing because it gives me a chance to experiment with different genres. Even as a singer I have been producing for myself, but producing for other people or for a product is more challenging and gets me out of my comfort zone which I love.” When asked could all singers be producers or does production require a completely different skill set?
Khan explains, “A singer is just a person who sings. A singer who sings and makes his own composition, lyrics and arrangements is a singer/song writer. A producer is a person who should have a vast knowledge of different genres, trends, music arrangement and a lot more technical know-how etc. and he/she should also be able to get the best out of every musician or singer they choose to work with. A producer therefore, is like a captain of the ship.In the future I plan to start my own Vlog where I’ll be talking about singing and production hoping to help other upcoming singers and producers.”