Starting off with music group Qayaas almost a decade ago, lead vocalist Umair Jaswal has taken his time to reach the path he’s on. From the heavy rock ways of Qayaas, to iconic Coke Studio appearances and making his acting debut with period drama Mor Mahal (2016), Umair has proven his mettle time and again. However, he has lately been performing on various occasions as a solo artist, which will follow his upcoming debut album, titled Umair Jaswal.
“The album is self titled; it’s called Umair Jaswal,” the singer-songwriter shared in an exclusive interview with Instep. “It is basically about my musical journey so far, from Qayaas to performing as a solo artist. All these years, there was some music, which was very personal, very close to my heart, and every note was written by me. It has its dark moments, it’s joyful, it’s heavy; it’s a bit of everything for everyone. What has defined me and shaped me as a musician in the last 10 years, it is all of that. It has a combination of songs written back in the days and some written very recently.”
As recently announced by the artist on social media, he plans to release the first single from his album next month. He informed that he will release one song every 35-45 days before he brings out the entire album by the end of this year, followed by videos for all the songs.
“Since we all know that there is hardly any record label left, there isn’t any way of putting out a physical copy of your music,” the artist added. “The new generation of musicians and music is going to be online and everything is being done in a digital way. I hardly believe that there is any use of a record label these days, especially in Pakistan. People are doing their music on their own. I wanted minimum to little interference from any corporate organization or someone who would dictate my sound so I didn’t get my album sponsored by someone. We did a lot of shows last year and whatever revenue we generated out of that has been put into the album. We have only seen record labels come into play and destroy the music scene here. I think it’s about time that people realize that we don’t need record labels, the tools are in your hands. Internet is right in front of you, you just need to put out your music and if people like it, you can start playing it live.”
Reflecting on his inspiration behind the album, the artist maintained that his inspiration was ‘to never give up’, no matter what. “I was unfortunate enough to start my musical career when the whole industry was crashing down,” he observed, adding that the bands he grew up listening to weren’t making music anymore. However, his inspiration was to make original music and he never gave up on it unlike a lot of musicians around who stopped making music.
When asked what challenges he had to face while working on a solo album, Umair responded, “Some of the challenges include having the right kind of finances, hiring the right studio, the right musicians and then make decent enough videos. However, the real challenge while making original music is our own people, our own channels and our own radio stations not supporting us. It is sad to see that despite various warnings and notices from PEMRA, they still play more Bollywood content than Pakistani content. If Pakistani musicians will not get visibility on local channels, they will stop playing more music.”
Towards the end of the interview, Umair also spoke about the current music scene in Pakistan. “It is better than what it was like three to four years ago,” he continued. “There are more shows happening, bands are being promoted, there are music platforms supporting new musicians and so on.”
Some of the musicians/ music groups that he thinks are doing a great job in promoting music include True Brew TV/Records in Lahore, Sikandar Ka Mandar, Ali Suhail and Takatak, among others. “I think this is the new lot of musicians in Pakistan that is going to make all the difference in the coming years.”
Lastly, the artist thanked his fans for sticking around and believing in him all these years. He hopes that he never disappoints them and fans like his upcoming music album.