My guitar and me
My interest in music developed when I was in the third grade. I began to play the flute and snare drums. My parents had always made it a point to get me involved in extracurricular activities and music was on top of that list.
One day, my father told me to move on and learn how to play a ‘proper’ instrument – not that flutes and snare drums aren’t, but he wanted me to venture further. Maybe he saw something I couldn’t see at the time. So, as any other obedient child would, I complied. He encouraged me to learn how to play the keyboard. And that was life changing.
My interest in music grew deeper. For years I kept learning how to play old songs like Do Dil, Dulhay Ka Sehra, Honton Se Chhu Lo Tum. Eventually, playing the same old songs became redundant and I felt like doing something different. I’d always wanted to learn how to play the guitar. So, on absolute impulse I thought, why not?
I gave up many times in the beginning because I couldn’t catch up on all the lessons. But after a few months, I was able to play one of the most heard songs of the time – Aadat. This was a huge achievement for me considering every guitarist started off with either that song or Wonderwall.
And inevitably, I became too comfortable with the guitar as well. I’d strum and hum the song as I went along, so next on the agenda was to actually learn how to sing. And let me tell you something; I was absolutely horrible in the beginning. As all other optimistic teenage musicians, I too, formed a band with some friends and I was their lead guitarist. I used to try doing back vocals but I was terrible. There came a point where my band members actually told me to quit trying – and I don’t blame them.
But I didn’t give up. I chose a different approach and began to write my own songs. I was 15-years-old back then. I kept writing snippets until I was relatively confident about one of them. Eventually I made a recording through a desk microphone and put it up on YouTube. The response was phenomenal – that was what kept me motivated to pursue singing.
People around me became very supportive after that. They kept telling me how great the song was, even though it wasn’t (of course I knew that). But it was motivating enough to keep me going. I kept writing songs and I had a habit of making my friends listen to what I had composed and use their feedback to my advantage. But the one person who would give me the most brutal, honest criticism over my songs was my father. I still remember his words,
“Beta, don’t be any ordinary artist for the industry. If you want to be someone in the music industry, be someone like A R Rehman.”
I kept practicing and formed a band back in O levels. We used to play gigs every now and then. My band boys were my support system when it came to music as they helped me grow as an artist. We released a few covers and did a few radio shows. But then, the boys moved to different parts of the world.
At one point, we had no choice but to let it go. From there, I was on my own; hence I recorded a single as a solo artist. I took one step at a time; first I got done with the guitar riffs, vocals, back vocals, then I involved a friend, Arsal, to play a nice bass line on it. Another friend of mine, Karim Barolia, offered to mix and master the song. After it was done, we shot a video for it. The process was full of seeking favours from friends, borrowed equipment, and friends helping out during the shoot, acting and so on. I finally released it on October 8, 2015.
To everyone who is reading this, you all have something that you can do – that you love to do – better than anyone else. If you don’t know it yet, you probably haven’t discovered it yet. Sure, you have to be sensible and make smart choices, but you also only get to enjoy one life. Find a way to make them one and the same.
I’ve chosen mine. And I’m never letting go. Everyone can dream, but it takes stubborn dreamers like me to make those dreams into opportunities. And this is not the end, this is where my journey begins.
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