you & me
A graduate of musicology from NCA, Asfar Hussain, has made it to some of the leading playlists of Spotify recently. Talking about how the lead singer of Bayaan from Chitral developed a passion for music, Asfar shares, “I was always very fond of music. My father played a huge role in that. There was always music and poetry in the house since he was a poet. I learnt to play Sitaar and Rubab in my childhood. All these became elements for me to study music at NCA.” Bayaan, a rock band and winners of Pepsi Battle of the Bands Season 3, formed in 2015, have gained popularity again. Talking about how the group was formed Asfar explains, “Bayaan started off with 4 of the band members playing at Nescafe Basement. After a year, I played a song for Haider (the bassist) which he loved and suggested that we do it together. After the song was recorded, we wanted to release it but we didn’t really know how we were going to give the credits. This was how Bayaan was born. We didn’t really think of forming a band before that, it was only after we recorded the song ‘Nahin Milta’ that it made sense.” This week You! sat down with Asfar Hussain, one of Pakistan’s brightest and boldest musicians…
Tell us about your new song ‘Sapna’.
It is a very different kind of song as compared to my other songs and even my sound. It’s poetic with a new touch of electronic, commercial-ly pop song vibe to it. I am very excited that I made this. It was time that I stepped outside of the box that I had confined myself into.
How was it working with Rovalio and Sherazam?
We have been thinking about experimenting with new genres and collaborating with new artists. We don’t want to be associated with one single genre of music. People start to assume that the musician only works on a particular type of music, we didn’t want that stamp. Sherazam was always someone I wanted to work with. He is an amazing guitarist but he never wanted to do music professionally. The main structure of the song is because of Sherazam. Rovalio is an EDM (electronic dance music) musician, whilst Bayaan is at the other side of the spectrum with heavy guitars and drums. Rovalio is pretty picky, he works on very few songs that he really likes. But it has come together in a really amazing way.
Should the fans expect more changes from your music style?
Yes, I will not be completely shifting away from the true sound of Bayaan. But, it’s about time we come to the happier side of life. The music you make is a part of you and right now I am at a stage in life that doesn’t really resonate with darker music. I spent a lot of time in darkness, now I went to move towards the light. I feel that is reflecting in my music.
‘Nahin Milta’ has gained so much popularity, recently. All over the world especially in India and the UAE, what has the sudden viral phenomenon been like?
We have always wanted to reach a bigger audience, and not stay stagnant, whether it is in being an artist or our sound. We want to experiment, grow and expand. Reels have become a great medium to become viral and to gain fame quickly. I am enjoying that our music has reached so many different types of people and people can resonate with it.
How was the experience performing at Expo 2020 in Dubai?
It was first time we were performing internationally that too at a huge platform for such a large audience, the experience was incredible. We performed on a stage where AR Rahman, Coldplay had already performed, the sound team was the same as AR Rahman’s and that was a surreal feeling. Our Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani fans’ response their love and their presence was overwhelming. We are planning another concert abroad again hopefully pretty soon.
Favourite genre of music:
This is a really difficult question as I do not have one particular type of favourite. Jazz, ghazals, EDM, rap and pop.
Favourite Pakistani artist right now?
Talha Anjum and Faris Shafi.
How do you see the future of Pakistan and its music?
After a long time, Pakistan has risen in music and that too in all sorts of different genres. Rap, EDM, pop, and even rock - they’re all thriving. Social media is a huge element in it, as it has created awareness and acceptance. The art and artist are both receiving appreciation.
Are you guys planning a new album?
We haven’t announced it yet but the good news is we have been working on some really great songs. An album is in the works, great things are coming soon.
Most memorable concert:
The Hill Joint Islamabad and also LUMS, last winter.
Define happiness in three words:
Contentment, peace and gratitude.
Top 3 songs in your playlist:
‘The Night King’ – Ramin Djawadi, ‘Glimpse of Us’ – Joji, ‘Main Khayal Hoon, Kisi Aur Ka’ – NFAK.
What would be your life’s theme song:
One song that is my anthem right now is ‘Phantom Regret by Jim’ by The Weeknd.
Favourite song that you have written:
My songs are like my children, I can’t have favourites. But, if I have to choose ‘Teri Tasveer’, ‘Mehram’ and ‘Tifl’.
What book is on your bedside table?
‘Mind Sight’ by Daniel J Siegel.
What is your favourite movie?
‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ and ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’.
How do you like spending your Sundays?
There is no difference for me, I don’t work a 9-5 so, I work on the weekends too or I am relaxing during the week when I’m not working.
Is writing a daily part of your life?
Not necessarily. When it comes to writing, I have to sit down alone; I have to be in my zone. I even have to sometimes isolate myself; this is why I struggle with collaborations.
What is the most important relationship advice you have?
The idea of loyalty. Whether it is for your friends or a romantic partner. You have to be honest to that person, to that relationship and to value it.