In Conversation with the Spiritual “Salman Ahmed”

Music has the power to change lives and when music meets Junoon, it can create wonders. "Junoon" is a name that needs no introduction. Undoubtedly, the most popular music band of the 90s, Junoon is famous for the iconic national songs that can still drive patriotism to the peak in any Pakistani's heart. The band has also a long history of producing some of the mind-blowing and electrifying songs in the history of Pakistan's music industry. For 25 long years, Junoon has entertained the audience of all over the world with their captivating music. Be it Pakistanis, Indians, English or Spanish, Junoon have made them move to their beats.

This time; on the silver anniversary of the ace band Junoon, we got the privilege to interview the founding member and the powerhouse of Junoon Band, Mr. Salman Ahmed. He is the Polio Goodwill Ambassador, Professor of Sufi Music in Queen's College, Co-director SSGWI and also the author of the bestselling "Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star's Revolution".

We talked about his musical journey, his new album and his future plans. Here is the conversation we had with the spiritual Salman Ahmed.

1. When you look back at your musical journey, what is the most pleasant thing that first comes to your mind? 

After I left Vital Signs, Junoon actually began with a dream that I had soon after I graduated from King Edward Medical college in Lahore. I was being pressured by parents, professors & friends to choose only one career & not "waste my time strumming a tun-tunna".

In the dream I saw an old man with a white beard, dressed in a long white robe, furiously begin to shake my shoulders & shout "Tumhey Junoon hai, Junoon hai, Junoon hai, Mauseequi ka Junoon hai" (You Have The Passion For Music) !!! I woke up with the word "Junoon" echoing in my head. I decided to follow my dream & start a rock band & have never looked back.

2. There are many definitions of music. How would you define music?

Music is the sound of feelings & the speech of angels. 

3. Your compositions are still very appealing. How did you come up with such heart-touching compositions? 

When you follow your heart the entire Universe conspires to make you succeed is something I've always believed in. Iqbal said: Dil Se Jo Baat Nikaltee Hai Asar Rakhtee Hai Par Nahin Magar Taaqat-e-Parwaz Rakhtee Hai.

4. What is your best composition in your own opinion? 

Difficult to choose one favorite but the one song that has touched the hearts of all generations since 1996, is Jazba Junoon.

5. Do you plan to take part in general elections in 2018? 

As a Rotary, Polio Goodwill ambassador, I plan to help eradicate Polio from Pakistan & wipe the disease off the face of the planet. Once that historical milestone is reached I'll think about my next goal.


6. How Salman Ahmed has evolved as a musician over the years? 

I grew up in the US; apart from classical rock and pop I studied Western music theory, arrangement, and orchestration, and played in various rock bands before returning to Pakistan to train as a doctor in my hometown, Lahore, at KEMC. 
Although I listen to everything contemporary as well, but at the age of 13 in New York, I saw Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin at Madison Square garden playing a Red 12 string double neck guitar, long hair, dragons painted on his pants. Led Zep & the Beatles inspired me to pick up the guitar. Since then, I am learning and evolving.
As a songwriter, I studied the classics: Led Zep, The Beatles, Queen, Pink Floyd, R.D. Burman, Naushad sahib / Ghulam Mohammad and to name just a few.
I was also very lucky to meet, perform & study Qawwali with the legendary Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sahib. I'm also a huge fan of Peter Gabriel & feel blessed to have grown up in the era of great composers & classic bands.

7. How do you see the amount of musical talent in Pakistan?

Pakistan has a lot of exciting talent but this talent needs nurturing, training, strong musical institutions & powerful media platforms like Coke studio & others.

8. Vital Signs and Awaz, along with Junoon were the most successful bands of the 90s. Which one is your personal favorite?

Well, I was lucky to join Junaid Jamshed & the Vital Signs & pioneer the band revolution. I've written about the band scene in Pakistan in my book, (RRJ). You can read it here.

9. From the younger lot, which one is your favorite Pakistani musician?

Usman Riaz is very talented, Arsalan Rabbani who has appeared live in concert with Junoon is also very talented, as is Momina Mustehsan who has recorded with me. 

10. You had such a long relation with the late great Junaid Jamshed Sir. What is the best memory you have with him?

Junaid & I were musical soul brothers & each other's support through good times & bad. I wrote this piece about our friendship. You can read that here. And our last spiritual concert with JJ in America which you can watch here.

11. How difficult it is for young and new musicians to make an identity for themselves in these times? 

It was much harder to make a name for yourself in pop or rock music when I was in college.The most difficult thing is to stay committed to music over your lifetime. If you have the Junoon it will take you through the hard times. 

12. Do you think digital music platforms can help the music industry grow again? 

Today with social media & the internet, things have become easier but you have to be original & authentic to reach people's hearts.
For example, this past week I uploaded some of my new DOOR videos & Dil Dil & Jazba Junoon with Junaid Jamshed & it has reached over 5 million people on my Facebook page!

13. Can you recall any nice memory with your fans? 

The most powerful memory is singing Jazba Junoon with over 500,000 "Junoonis" on Dec 25th, 2011 at Imran Khan's Jalsa (procession) next to Quaid-e-Azam's mazar in Karachi. And then the Nobel peace prize performance which you can also watch here.

14. Sufi-ism and Music are two different perspectives of nature. How did you bring them together?

Music connects us to the soul & our soul is connected to God. We are spiritual beings having a human experience & the journey is the Destination. 

15. Which is the most difficult? Music or Acting? 

Music is the most powerful art form, you have to devote every single day to Riyaaz & even then you will remain a student all your life.

16. Please tell us a bit about your new album.

DOOR celebrates 25 years of Junoon. It is being released on Taazi in Pakistan & Universal Music worldwide. It has 14 songs which reflect the musical journey of Junoon.
The 1st video, DOOR, has my friend Wasim Akram & his wife Shaneira Akram & Rabia Butt featured in it. You can watch the BTS here.

17. Can we expect some more songs in near future? 

Yes, THIS IS MY JUNOON :)

18. What has been your most favorite venue to perform at? 

At the UN. Watch it here.

19. How do you see the future of Pakistan? 

InshAllah Naya Pakistan (New Pakistan)! Which is also my song with Junaid Jamshed. Watch it here.



20. Do you think Pakistanis have the potential to change themselves and their lifestyles?

Yes, if we want to save Pakistan from poverty, disease, illiteracy & injustice we have to work together to defeat the forces of the status quo. Become the change you want to see in Pakistan.
Insha-Allah we will triumph one day.

21. Please give a message for your fans and our readers.

Always follow your Junoon & never be defeated by failure or fear.

And that sums up quite well. If you want to know more about the silver anniversary of Junoon, you should read the article written by Robert Schroeder. You can read that wonderful and informative article here.
We found Mr. Salman Ahmed full of mystical and wise. He is passionate about music and most importantly, he is full of hope for Pakistan and its future. His success depicts his hard work and determination. He is a role model for millions of people around the world and we wish this MUSICIAN OF PAKISTAN, a very best of luck for his future projects. He is one of the finest musicians of our country and we really cannot wait to listen more of his songs in the future. Hope you guys loved the conversation. Until next time, enjoy this memorable video.  


Comments

  1. I like "Junoon Se Aur Ishq Se" more than Jazba Junoon. Jazba Junoon is more like a cricket song

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