In Conversation with the Multi-Talented Zahid A. Qureshi

Ever since Pepsi Battle of the Bands Season 3 aired, one musician who impressed the most was none other than Tamaasha's Zahid Ali Qureshi. Zahid is one of the rare species of Pakistani Musicians who has proved to be a powerhouse of creative talent in just a small period of time. Be it keeping the momentum of the band alive by playing both guitars and keys at the same time or supporting the vocalist through backing vocals, Zahid proved himself to be a complete genius in his craft and often left the judges in awe of his brilliance.

Zahid Ali is a Pakistani Musician and plays guitar in Pakistani Band Tamaasha


We got in touch with this highly talented and humble musician for an interview to talk about his life as a musician, future plans, and what the Tamaasha fans can expect from his band. Enjoy!

1. Please tell us about your music journey. 

Well, I started playing the piano when I was barely 4, 5 years old. Then in school days I played some more of keyboards. My first on stage performance was also in school days, with my sister singing and me playing a national song with built it accompaniment and beats of a basic casio keyboard! 😃

When Fruity Loops came (a software for composing and producing music) it was a jackpot, since I didn’t have any means to produce music. I’d cover songs on that software, make instrumentals and songs and what not.

Later I met few musician friends when I joined the university, and then I bought my first guitar and amp. Played a few gigs with various third tier artists as bassist, rhythm guitarist and lead guitarist, did few songs as freelance songwriter/music composer, did a few jingles and learned a lot about music, since I was a self taught musician. When I had to play with other musicians, I really felt the need to learn the basics that a friend of mine just taught me in one session, to be adequately able to speak that language and communicate better.

2. Marketing and music are two very different domains. How did a marketer become a musician or is the other way around?

Well, ever since I was a kid, I was very auditory. I was an intelligent kid with a good ear. I’d memorize things that reached my ears. So, I always say that I was a born musician. Just that it wasn’t recognized by anyone at an early age. Marketing is something I was naturally good with and doing my Masters in Brand Management & Advertising gave me a rationale of everything. I’m a musician before anything else that I am, or can be.

Zahid Ali Qureshi is the lead guitarist in Pakistani Band Tamaasha


3. How did Tamaasha happen? 

I met Bilal in a gig with some friends and hung out with him. He was pursuing his solo thing. He asked me to play a couple unplugged gigs with him that I did. He told me about his old band that was sort of on a hiatus. Then came the I AM KARACHI music festival. Bilal asked me to play with the band. They re-branded it and came up with the name Tamaasha. We played together and it went fine. I was friends with the bassist, Ali already. Rest of the guys were not too comfortable initially but then came Pepsi BOB and we kinda went all in for that.

4. You boast a very diverse portfolio. How do you manage all of that stuff so eloquently?

I like to work, and mind is refreshed with variety. Monotony makes us get bored. My mind rarely sleeps since its always working. That’s something I really love and that’s what gets me going. My body needs 5 hours to rest in a day and that’s it. I believe in myself and have a fair idea of my strengths and weaknesses. Things I know I’m good at, I’m pretty much self obsessed for those areas. Things I’m not good at, I shamelessly accept that and work harder if I have to.

5. Marketing, post production, music, and script writing. What do you enjoy doing the most and why? 

I enjoy music the most because I was meant to do it but I enjoy everything else as well and sometimes music can be boring for so many reasons, like when its not what I really want but have to do for some limitations, so yeah. I can find peace, or enjoyment in everything; mostly I can make anything fun. 😄

6. Your recent project Tera Chup Rehna with Zeeshan Ali is garnering a lot of appraise from the critics. What motivated you to come up with a Ghazal? Don’t you think it could have been quite risky considering the music choices of the audience? 

Well Zeeshan and I are really good friends and ever since he moved to Karachi we get to jam and hang out a lot. His friend, one of the finest poets of current times, Tehzeeb Hafi had asked Zeeshan to sing one of his ghazals. I was at Zeeshan’s place and he asked me to do something about this one. I really loved the style of writing Tehzeeb has, very colloquial and effective. I started working on it right then and finished the whole thing by the morning.

Musicians here aren’t trying out new things in this genre, everyone’s either trying to cover old ghazals because they want to use the musical equity of that established piece of music written decades ago, or they want at least a established poetry of some legendary poet (like Jon Elia, Ghalib, Faraz, etc.) to put that goodwill to a good use in their favor.

I had a beautiful piece of poetry and a competent vocalist with me. I knew we could pull off something good and I think we did.


7. How was your experience working with Natasha Khan?

Natascha is one of the sweetest persons ever. She’s smart, kind and productive. It wasn’t all planned, she said, “Hey, wanna do some covers with me, old vital signs stuff?”, and I said “oh, well yeah, why not!”


8. Tamaasha’s most anticipated song has been the talk of the town lately. When do you intend to release it? 

If everything goes as per the plan, you’ll see the hype right after eid and will announce the release date then. Its not too far anymore, the work for the video is almost finished.

9. Currently, lots of corporates are investing in the music industry. Do you think it will help the industry grow?

Wherever we open heartedly and sincerely invest, we see the results. Investment is not just of the money, but of skills and efforts too. Corporations are being looked down upon by the artists mostly coz they get accused of making artists do whatever they want in exchange for good money; many musicians get the label of being a sell out for that.

Just like everyone’s needs are different, corporates can have certain needs and there’s always someone for every kind of services these corporations seek. I think corporates putting their money on music and talent (be it new or established) is a great sign and it has helped musicians grow, and made them able to show the rest of the world their skills and it can get bigger than that if the investments are more rational and sincere.

10. Today particularly, when music has been tied to tragedy, why is it so important to make sure for people to come together through music?

Music has as much influence as any other art-form. Perhaps, It’s a little more inevitable and more radiant than many. Idea is to put that to good use where it affects people in a way to make a better society. I yearn for a safe and healthy society, healthy for the mind and body. We live in a toxic environment, toxicity of every kind, from macro level to micro level, from personal to societal. No ones happy, and its mostly because of us, we make it difficult for each other to live peacefully. What flags could you raise to bring public together under it?! I would really want that flag to be a flag of peace, with a message of kindness, spreading love and being considerate, tolerant and learning to co-exist.

Zahid Ali Qureshi is a Musician of Pakistan


11. In Pakistan, there’s a common perception that music is for free. What can be done to make people pay for it? How can a musician build the interest of their fans to actually pay for music and not download it? 

Its not in Pakistan only, its worldwide. Its not the job of the musicians to make the listeners pay. Its just that, if something is readily available for free, who would want to pay for it. We aren’t on such higher degree of being a HUMAN, to not just get it for free, so easily. There are companies that are evolving, trying to being back the record label thing and routing the music through streaming platforms that pay the artists. But still, there’s always someone who would convert the youtube video link to mp3 and put that in a usb to listen to in the car so can we ever reach that point where everyone’s streaming? I don’t think so.

12. Can you name 3 musical inspirations of yours from Pakistan? 

Junoon. Rohail Hayat & Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

13. What do you wish to achieve as a musician in the next 5-10 years?

Its hard to answer anything like that; I’m a very private person! 😄

14. If you have the chance to change one thing about the music industry of Pakistan, what would it be? 

Musicians 😄

15. As a musician, how do you wish to explore the versatility in you? What genres would you love to try out next? 

I have a tendency to imitate music of any kind. I observe and pick up things quickly. I have a sheer interest in progressive music and more of jazz/fusion lately and that’s what I’m looking forward to, along with other things that are my side projects.

16. What one advice would you give to the young musicians who have just started to explore their potential? 

Don’t do anything half heartedly. Try your best to learn new things and practice a lot.

17. What makes you happy?

Making others happy.

18. What makes you sad?

Being powerless/limited.

Zahid Ali is a Pakistani Musician, Songwriter, and Composer.

19. Any specific concert you enjoyed playing the most at?

Opening for Junoon at their reunion. Biggest crowd, craziest experience.

20. If you were a music instrument, which one would you be and why?

I would be a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) as I can play any instrument and make any plugin play through me, many at the same time 😂

21. Please give a small message for your fans.

Feels good to know you exist. Let your existence be a source of strength, peace and positivity for others. Never lose hope till you’re alive and breathing. I’m always available for whoever needs me. Spread love and be kind. Peace out!

Comments

  1. It felt so good to know about this talented musician! best of luck Zahid

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    Replies
    1. Glad you liked his work. Do check out their band's page hyperlinked above, you'll love them for sure! :)

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  2. Tamaasha is a good band but their vocalist sucks

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