Catching up with Maha Ali Kazmi

Maha Ali Kazmi has been on a roll ever since her song "Sahibo" was released in the second Episode of Pakistan's first music web series, Acoustic Station. The sweet-voiced singer-songwriter from Kashmir has appeared on several TV shows not only to promote her song but to voice her opinion on the atrocities in Kashmir. All those appearances doubled the curiosity and we couldn't wait to get in touch with her for an exclusive interview to know more about her musical career.

An exclusive interview singer-songwriter from Kashmir, Maha Ali Kazmi.
Maha Ali Kazmi performing Sahibo in Acoustic Station

In this interview, Maha Ali Kazmi talks about the current state of music in Pakistan, her life as a musician, response of Sahibo, future plans, and more.

Please tell us about your musical journey. 

I started singing at school with friends and we formed an underground band. We used to perform at various venues like PACC. Then while studying in Melbourne I joined the on-campus choir group. Upon returning from Melbourne I auditioned for Cornetto Music Icon and was selected as a backup vocalist. Shortly thereafter I released my debut single ‘Nazar’ produced by Farhad Humayun in 2013. That’s how much journey began

It’s been a long journey for you. What has changed in your life over all these years? 

I’ve become more versatile as an artist in that initially I had restricted myself only to singing pop rock songs but now I’m more at ease with singing in other genres as long as they come naturally to me.

Was singing always your passion or it just happened? 

It’s been a passion for as far back as I can remember.

When it comes to versatility, you have sung all types of songs; western, pop, and folk. How difficult it is to shift your focus from song to song? Which genre did you enjoy singing the most? 

If I naturally connect with a melody and I feel strongly for it, regardless of the genre, I’m happy lending my voice to it.

Fans have often said that they feel an instant connect with your songs. How do you deal with all the love that comes your way from the fans?

It feels great to know that my song was able to have a profound affect on someone. If it helped them get through tough times, or move then during happy times or even just made them feel something emotional by way of relating to the lyrics then I feel my job is done.

Number of views and likes has become a criterion to judge if a song is hit or not. What is actually a hit song in your opinion? 

Well conventionally a song will be deemed to be a hit or otherwise based on the number of hits but if that were the sole criteria some of humanity’s most treasured works of art would have been cast into oblivion. Some of the finest writers, musicians. painters and novelists only gained fame and recognition posthumously.

What has been the most difficult song you have sung till date? 

Aaj Sun ke Tumara Naam with Aamir Zaki simply because of the range of the song and also because Aamir was very particular about how he wanted the vocals to sound, and I remember I was still recovering from jaundice while recording the song. I think in my opinion despite all of that its my strongest song vocally.


Being an artist is not easy, especially in Pakistan. What keeps you going in your hard times? 

My love for music and especially for song writing. I love writing songs and seeing how they finally turn out once they’re fully produced. So yes I can never imagine not singing.

What is your honest opinion of the current state of Pakistani music? 

I’ve always been extremely honest that I don’t believe in brands sponsoring music. They pay the bills but they take away so much from the creative process when music becomes only a means to an end the ending being selling a product which completely restricts a musician. However, I’m glad that musicians are beginning to realize this and with initiatives like Acoustic Stations Pk hopefully the future of music will be based on originality and not to be dictated by the corporate demands and that I really hope that genuine music record labels take root in this country who have the sole objective of producing quality music, not by way of promoting a product. Music itself is the end product and the only product.

You started your career with the loudest band in Pakistan, Overload but most of your songs have a soft tone. How did this collaboration happen? 

I always sang rock songs even as a teenager at underground gigs. In fact the first band I joined was a rock band. So ‘Nazar’ in one sense came to be more naturally that any other song I’ve sung.

Maha Ali Kazmi poses for a picture with Farhad Humayun
Maha Ali Kazmi with Farhad Humayun

Do you think that the current state of Pakistani music is progressive? 

In one way yes despite the extraordinary constraints individual artists have shown great ingenuity and perseverance in putting out original content.

As a musician, are you satisfied with your career? What would you like to achieve in the next few years? 

I’m very happy with my career especially after the response Sahibo has garnered. To simply continue coming up with original music that pull heartstrings of the listeners.


What makes you happy? 

Travelling, good music, good food and coffee

What makes you angry? 

Animal abuse

Your favourite cuisine. 

Hot pot steamboat or masala dosa

Current favorite musician in Pakistan. 

Ali Sethi

Your earliest fan memory. 

If there was one funny incident that I can never forget when I was performing Maritime Museum on the occasion of the independence day. Among the audience where school going children who wanted my autographs. I saw my then fiancĂ© (now husband) who is not by any stretch of imagination a media person let alone a celebrity or any one famous, was enthusiastically signing autographs on their school shirts and I remember thinking it’s not so difficult after all being a celebrity as long as you can fake it.

Your guilty pleasure.

Chocolates

Please give a message for your fans. 

Thank you all for the continued love and support.

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