Instep Today

Introducing Star Shah

By Maheen Sabeeh
Sun, 06, 24

Amir Shah, the math teacher by day, and Star Shah, the rapper carving lyrics on solitary bike rides.

Introducing Star Shah

While some rappers choose aliases for notoriety, Star Shah’s choice feels more personal, a reflection of his own aspirations. Due to lack of resources and opportunities for aspiring artists in the music scene in Okara, Star Shah moved to Lahore. A decision that mirrors the experiences of many artists who migrate to larger cities in search of creative outlets.

A life-changing call from Xulfi, the Coke Studio producer, marks a turning point. The meticulous production process, the collaborative spirit, and the overwhelming emotions Star Shah experienced during his debut. We see the trans-formation from a nervous newcomer to an artist realizing a lifelong dream.

The impact of ‘2 AM’ is significant. The song’s success brought him recognition and opened new opportunities for collabo-rations and performances. His ultimate goal is to use his music to represent Pakistan on a global stage and spread messages of love, peace, and hope.

Can you tell us about your early life and how Okara influenced your music?

Growing up in Okara, I was surrounded by peace and nature. The simplicity of life here gave me a unique perspective. Losing my father in 2018 was tough, but it pushed me to express my emotions through music. My father was my rock, and his absence created a void that I tried to fill with my lyrics. The landscapes and the quietness of Okara provided a backdrop for introspection, allowing me to pour my heart into my songs. My community in Okara has always been supportive, and their encouragement helped me pursue my passion for music. I remember spending countless hours by the canal, jotting down verses in my notebook. The serene environment allowed me to reflect deeply on life, loss, and dreams. This connection with my hometown is evident in my music, where I often draw upon the themes of simplicity and raw emotion.

Photography by Nadir Firoz Khan
Photography by Nadir Firoz Khan

Why did you choose the name ‘Star Shah’?

The name represents my dreams and aspirations. I wanted something that reflects my journey and the respect I aim to earn through my music and teaching. The ‘Star’ in my name is a reminder to shine brightly and inspire others. Teaching gives me a sense of purpose and stability, while music allows me to explore my creativity and connect with people on a deeper level. Balancing both careers is challenging but incredibly rewarding. I believe that both education and music are powerful tools for change, and I strive to make a difference through both. My students often tell me how my dual career paths inspire them to pursue their passions without giving up on their responsibilities. This duality in my life, being a mentor and a musician, helps me stay grounded and focused on my goals.

What prompted your move to Lahore, and how did it influence your music?

Okara had limited opportunities for musicians. Moving to Lahore opened doors for me and allowed me to explore my style, influenced by legends like Bohemia. Lahore is a hub for artists, and being in that environment was invigo-rating. It pushed me to refine my craft and collaborate with other talented musicians. The city’s vibrant culture and diverse music scene inspired me to experiment with different sounds and genres, leading to the creation of my signature style, ‘zaaban.’ The move was daunting at first, but it was necessary for my growth as an artist. In Lahore, I found a community of like-minded individuals who shared my passion for music and supported my journey. The energy of the city is contagious; it challenges you to be better and to push your creative boundaries. I also had the opportunity to perform at local venues, which was crucial in building my confidence and stage presence.

How did you feel when you got the call from Coke Studio?

It was surreal. The production process was intense, but it was a dream come true. I went from being a nervous newcomer to feeling like I truly belonged. Working with Xulfi Bhai and the team was an incredible learning experience. They pushed me to deliver my best performance and helped me grow as an artist. The collaborative spirit and support from the team made the journey memorable. Being part of Coke Studio was a testament to my hard work and dedication, validating my efforts and motivating me to aim higher. The exposure and experience I gained from Coke Studio have been invaluable in shaping my career. The platform not only amplified my voice but also allowed me to connect with an audience that I never thought I could reach. The professional environment and high production values set a standard for me, and I learned the importance of precision and teamwork in creating music that resonates.

– Photography by Nadir Firoz Khan
– Photography by Nadir Firoz Khan

‘2 AM’ was a hit. How did it change your life?

‘2 AM’ brought me recognition. Working with Zeeshan Ali was a learning experience. Despite our different styles, we found common ground and created something special. The song’s success opened doors for more collaborations and performances. It also brought me closer to my fans, who appreciated the authenticity and emotion in the lyrics. Their support and encouragement have been a driving force in my journey. I realized the power of music to connect people and convey messages of hope and resilience. The overwhelming response from my fans has been humbling, and it drives me to keep pushing my boundaries. The song’s success was a pivotal moment, not just professionally but personally. It made me realize the responsibility I have towards my listeners – to produce music that is not only entertaining but also meaningful. The interactions with fans, hearing their stories and how the song impacted them, were incredibly fulfilling.

What’s next for you?

I want to take my music global and spread messages of love and hope. My fans inspire me to keep creating music that resonates with them. I aim to represent Pakistan on international stages, showcasing our rich culture and talent. My music is a reflection of my journey and the stories of those around me. I want to use my platform to highlight social issues and promote positive change. The support from my fans keeps me motivated to push boundaries and explore new horizons. I also plan to collaborate with artists from different genres and backgrounds, fostering creativity and innovation in my music. In addition, I am working on a new album that delves deeper into personal and social themes, aiming to inspire and connect with a broader audience. The new album will feature a mix of traditional and modern elements, exploring themes of identity, resilience, and hope. I believe that music has the power to heal and unite, and I want my work to reflect that belief.

Star Shah collaborated with Zeeshan Ali
Star Shah collaborated with Zeeshan Ali

My journey is just beginning, and I am excited to see where it leads me.

An unyielding spirit

Star Shah’s ability to articulate emotions through his music provides a voice for the marginalized and the oppressed, making his songs powerful and relatable. His lyrics often touch on the disparity between dreams and reality, shedding light on the societal issues that many try to ignore.

His song, ‘2 AM’s’ haunting melody and intro-spective lyrics capture the essence of late-night solitude and reflection.

The production quality, instrumental arrangements, and Star Shah’s vocal delivery all contribute to creating an immersive and emotional experience for the listener.

The intricate layering of sounds and the use of traditional instruments jux-taposed with modern beats create a unique soundscape that is both nostalgic and contemporary.

The story of Star Shah transcends a simple interview. It’s a narrative about resilience, artistic expression, and the trans-formative power of music. Star Shah’s journey from Okara to Coke Studio is a testament to his perseverance, talent, and unwavering dedication to his craft. His music not only entertains but also inspires and uplifts, carrying messages of hope and resilience to a global audience. His ability to balance his teaching career with his passion for music demonstrates his comm-itment to making a positive impact on his community and beyond. Star Shah continues to push the boundaries of his art, seeking to create music that resonates on a deep and personal level, while also contributing to the cultural tapestry of Pakistan. His story is one of dreams realized through hard work, passion, and an unyielding spirit.