Bringing back the culture of ‘Lahore’

January 24, 2016

Instep speaks to Farhad Humayun about his new music video that was shot on the streets of Lahore, playing shows abroad and the future of Overload

Bringing back the culture of ‘Lahore’

Music is often a form of self-expression for artists. One such artist is Farhad Humayun, the front man of the unique music outfit we know as Overload.

Over the years, Overload’s line-up has changed but the one constant force has been Farhad whose evolution from the role of drummer-producer to front-man and vocalist has been delightful to watch.

Overload’ sound has also evolved with time and they’ve grown from an instrumental dhol-fueled sonic experiment to something much more subversive. Songs like ‘Jeet’ and ‘Bola Na’ reflect on social dichotomy and provide hope that artists are aware citizens responding to our shared environment in the best way they can. Overload’s latest, a music video called ‘Lahore’ is simply the culmination of those ideals.

The music video, shot on the streets of Lahore, is a sharp commentary on the dangers of losing our historical, cultural and architectural monuments.

Instep caught up with Farhad Humayun to discuss his new music video, playing shows abroad and the future of the band….

Instep: What is Overload up to these days?

Farhad Humayun (FH): We’re working on a new live set. We keep changing our live sound frequently so people don’t get bored if they come to watch us play again. We’re playing in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow in February and Austin, Texas in March. The new video titled ‘Lahore’ came out on New Year’s Eve.

Instep: Tell us more about the idea behind this video?

FH: It’s about the Lahore I grew up in and how rapidly its face is changing to a city I don’t recognize.

So, we decided to go throughout the city in a fancy rickshaw highlighting monuments, habits and places that represent true and real Lahore that will lose its charm and character if our history continues to be destroyed. It’s a song about knowing and celebrating our identity

I directed it myself. This is my 6th video for Overload as director. The cast includes Overload dhol players Nasir Sain and Kala Sain and the Punjab Brass Band, which is a regular feature with us. And, of course, while we roamed the city we managed to pick up some local interesting faces and places. The rickshaw itself is a character in the video.

Instep: How do you see the present music scene in Pakistan?

FH: I’m the most positive person in the world but I don’t see a big wave of musicians coming about. People don’t practice as much on their skills. Most people are in it for fame, which is welcome through music, film, TV presenting or modeling. I don’t think people are really playing music because they love to. There are exceptions like Shahzad Noor of Poor Rich Boy and Takatak from Lahore. I also really like Sara Haider’s voice and look forward to more music from her

When there’s no public space to play music, it’ll shift to TV for a while like Coke Studio and Nescafe Basement and of course online before it dies out. You can’t garner a die-hard fan following unless you play live and give people an unforgettable experience.

I also feel that musicians need to write their own songs to show the world what they’re feeling rather than redo old songs and aid the sale of more cola or coffee.

We need more musicians with integrity like we used to have in the ‘90s. I’m talking about people like Ali Azmat and Sajjad Ali who have written their own songs and conveyed their own feelings through music.

Instep: How important is a video to a single?

FH: Nowadays, in the age of visual, a song can really be accented by a video. It reinforces the image an artist has in his mind of his own song so it gives the audience an insight into the thought process of an artist. Artists are responsible for their own image.

An artist who shoots a decent enough song in his bedroom with a phone camera could form a fan base but will never be able to demand the top price for his shows/endorsements. So, some production value associated with a video goes a long way. Once a song/video is out for consumption, people don’t care what kind of budget you worked with. They want a top quality product, which is the responsibility of the artist to give. A bad video can destroy a perfectly great song and a great video can uplift a mediocre song. With the combination of visual and audio, bands can actually create an ‘event’ in peoples’ lives with a song which is what I aim to do.

Instep: Why has Overload become a one-man show and why would you still call it Overload when other members have left?

FH: Any band in the world has a leader who carries forward the vision of a band. While, for most people, even in the professional music business, music itself is secondary, it is the only thing I do. The integral sound of Overload is in tact and stronger than ever. We are playing live and producing more songs and videos than ever before.

Nasir Sain and I have been in Overload since day one. People grow tired of touring or making an effort to keep a band alive because it’s very hard work mentally and physically. They grow older and their priorities change so they decide to retire like, our keyboardist/composer Sheraz recently did. He’s an honorary member who can come and go as he pleases.

As for me, I’m still a rock n roller at heart and my fire isn’t looking like it’ll die down anytime soon.

As for pursuing a solo career – If at any point I decide to do that it’ll be totally different from what Overload sounds like. Overload is a band with a distinctive sound and even though I produce and compose all the music now, it comprises various sounds and elements that I might not use on a solo record.

Instep: What is next on the cards? Future plans?

FH: All I know is that I’ll still be playing music tomorrow.

I’m interested in directing so doing that for cinema might be on the cards.

Instep: Any collaboration in the pipeline?

FH: Not as yet but I might surprise you.

Bringing back the culture of ‘Lahore’