Since the early 2000s, technology has surpassed skill which is why we're finding that people who 'look' good can become superstars even if they can't sing. But his singing coach is Rustam Fateh Ali Khan. He grew up in the 80s at the time when musicians' skill were at par with technology. In many ways he is a purist so he follows the sensibility of the 70s and 80s. He practices every day so if you ask him to play, he can actually play drums and guitar to perfection at any given time and he is the lead singer of Overload, he is Farhad Humayun . Hence, he personifies all those distinctive qualities to make place in our new year’s first edition.

Could you please share with our readers your best childhood memory?

When we were kids, my two sisters and seven cousins used to perform plays for the elders in our garden on Sundays. My grandparents, aunts and uncles would come over for lunch and watch and amuse themselves. One such time, I played the role of a chips vendor in a cinema. I ate all the chips myself! I still laugh when I think about it.

Tell us something about your family. What kind of a relationship do you share with them?

My father was a businessman and also a very famous English Cricket Commentator, Shahzad Humayun. He passed away in 2010. My mother is the iconic TV actress, Navid Shahzad, who is also an academician and educator as well as a columnist. I have two sisters who practice architecture and HR. I'm the youngest and we are extremely close. We have common friends and very often we travel together and socialize. It's quite unique that way.

How were you as a student? Did you face any resistance from family on adopting music as a profession?

In school I was more on the artistic side than the academic. I was an above average student but I discovered music, art and literature by grade 7 and I knew I had unlocked a parallel universe that others couldn't see. I was an alternative kid who wasn't a Physics, Chemistry, Math student.
I didn't face any resistance because both my parents saw that I was exceptional at drumming and drawing. They just wanted me to do well like any parents.

Do you have any musical training? Is there any particular era that you try to reflect through your music?

In Pakistan, in the 80s, when I was growing up, we didn't have structured courses or schools to learn music so I learned from books people brought from overseas. I have musical training in Indian Classical rhythm. I learned with various dhol, pakhawaj and tabla players over the years.

 

How do you define yourself as a person and a musician?

That’s a hard one. I would say I'm extremely sensitive and observant. Nothing escapes my eye. And that's evident in my music also. There are miniscule details in my songs and in the mix that people may not hear but are there and have an effect.

Tell us about your new track Nimmi Nimmi? How is this track different from your previous works?

It's very personal and extremely heartfelt. It's about longing and knowing there are things that are out of our control. It really transcends beyond being a common love song. It's an event in my life and it seems to have resonated with my audience that way also.

I don’t think it's very different, from other Overload music, in its sensibility. I believe that there's a time for everything and this was the right time for Nimmi Nimmi which is a song I've had in my archives for over 3 years.

Nimmi Nimmi is a huge hit on internet but how do you gauge its success on mainstream media?

When I go and play live, I know it's going to be at certain places which will invite Overload because that's the band those people want to see and hear. I like my audience to take Overload personally & search for our music. I don't want the whole world to know my music unless they are absolute mad music buffs. There are presently over 100 million internet users in Pakistan. I would say that certainly is mainstream media. I would say my measure of success is reflected in the fact that Overload and I still manage to play over 100 concerts a year in various places all over the world, all my projects get funded & I am totally self sufficient. What more can a musician want? 

Why did you choose to depart from your signature genre of music? Was it intentional or unintentional?

I haven’t departed from my signature sound at all. Every song, every sound I make with Overload is a signature Overload sound. When I formed the band almost 12 years ago, my favourite colour was Orange – I was 24 years old. Now I'm 36 & my favourite colour is Black.

Who’s your great inspiration in life as a whole?

Goodness inspires me. A kind word spoken is a faith restored & a heart mended!

 Singer, director or composer, you have donned all three hats. Where do you feel most comfortable?

It depends on what time of the year it is and how I'm feeling. There are things I can convey better with an image. Others through drumming or singing. I'm very organized in my approach to working in the arts. I have systems in place and I can get things done effectively in perfect time. However, if I were to pick one, I'd say drumming is something you can ask me to do any place, any time and I won't miss a beat.

 Out of 10, kindly score yourself as a singer, music composer and director?

No. You do that!

 You have received numerous esteemed awards; what was the highest point for Overload?

I think the highest point for Overload hasn't arrived yet. We've been on our way for a decade and we're not quitting even though it's hard to play music in Pakistan. I appreciate the awards and rewards but every concert where an audience sings with me or raises their hands in the air when I tell them to, is a great reward.

 Are you satisfied with the pace of your work? Don’t you think for the revival of Pakistan’s music industry Overload needs to contribute more?

I'd like to do more. I'd like to do it quicker but I'm not the kid who used to write ten pages in an exam answer. I'm not contributing to anything intentionally. I'm saying things how I think they should be said through lyrics, music, production and video. That takes time. And when my work comes out, it speaks for itself and can't be compared to anyone else's work. Please be assured, there is no revival of anything in Pakistan. People are just waking up and starting to do more because they want to. Nobody is doing anything for the revival of cinema or music or art. People are simply doing what they do.  

 What is the importance of music in a person’s and a nation’s life?

I could write a book about this but to put it simply, music constantly reminds you, reassures you, inspires you, and connects you with deeper emotions you never even knew you could feel. It makes you a better person. Music defines the identity of a nation. Name me ONE country that doesn’t have a National Anthem! Also, in our Islamic tradition, the Azaan is 'sung' in the human voice. It has all the elements to invite and inspire people to form a communion and do greater things. Its true power is concealed from the public which is why clerics also try to discredit it as haram and condone it.

 What’s your most cherished possession?

I don’t possess anything. Nothing belongs to me. I'm just passing through.

 What goals and objectives do you have as singer?

To be able to sing exactly what I'm feeling.

 What hindrances must be resolved for the growth of Pakistan’s music industry?

To silence and demobilize the Mullah who has proclaimed himself as the savior of Islam and Pakistan. We are all humans whether Muslim or non – muslim & are eligible to make our own decisions.

Security and safety first and foremost –So people can actually get together and enjoy live music.

Musicians need to work harder on their skills as well as business.

Musicians need to set up alternative channels, funding, avenues that provide ways for their music to be heard and seen.

Eliminate government taxes specific to music.

Set up and enforce copyright laws.

Set up music distribution systems.

Musicians need to continue to play music no matter what.

How do you plan to contribute as an individual towards Pakistan’s music industry?

I have contributed in many ways and will continue to. I have recorded bands like Symt for free because I saw their potential. I have set up www.riotarts.com so we can start accumulating music from Pakistan on the web. An industry will only die if we stop playing.

 What is the significance of concerts in a singer’s life?

Concerts are the only activity that engage large numbers of people in a single activity. Bands gain popularity through concerts because there's a lot more energy in a live performance than on a CD which is 'contained'.

 What was your riskiest musical adventure? Did you succeed in it?

Overload! Yes!

 Please share with us some details of your recent performance at Chateau de Marmont Hotel? How did that happen?

I was in LA where a friend invited me to the birthday of singer/stage actor Donovan Leitch. To my surprise it was quite a Hollywood studded event but in a very small bar so it was intimate. I was the only Asian there and since I happened to be a singer/drummer, I was asked to sing. And so I did and they loved it. I made all the 'Goras' go Allah Allah! It was fun and they received me well.

 Is there any song that you are never tired of playing?

Dhamaal in any shape form or duration.

 Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

Higher, through wisdom. Stronger through work.

How do you utilize your free time?

There's no such thing as free time. Any time when Im not playing or working, I'm thinking. Even that's work!

 What is your favorite place to dine in? And your favorite cuisine?

Any food that’s made well and don’t have beetroot

Home is … ?

A state of mind. Lahore is home and Lahore is a state of mind!