Music stars belonging to South Asian region are gaining immense popularity all around the world. Abbas Hasan, an award winning French singer of Pakistani origin, is one such artist who is constantly making headlines. Besides all the nominations and awards which he had won, Abbas recently signed a major deal with the Pan-Asian Film and Music Awards academy (PAIFMA). The academy has recognized Abbas Hasan as one of the top Asian artists in the UK and is featuring him as one of the leading young artists to watch. He is now an official brand ambassador for the PAIFMA. After this deal he also released his immensely anticipated music video Sweet Girl, which is in Urdu-English and starts out with some vocals in French. In an exclusive interview with the Weekend he talks about this deal and his music career.
Recently you signed a major deal with the Pan-Asian Film and Music Awards academy (PAIFMA). How awesome is that?!
Thank you! Yes, it’s very exciting and I’m so thrilled to embark on this journey with them. Of all the honours I’ve held over the past few years, it feels overwhelming and extra special to have the academy supporting my work, as my belief is that music and the arts are intended to bring people together and break boundaries. As an Asian artist this message rings true to everything that I do.
What has contributed the most to your success?
I think it’s hard to define. I’d like to believe it’s the fact that I put effort and thought into every project that I take on, and my fans have high expectations of everything that I do. I like to push boundaries, challenge perceptions and provoke thought. I think music should move you in some way, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually, and even every visual whether photo or video should do the same.
What has been your career's turning point?
After I signed with Rishi and started all my Bollywood collaborations [Shahrukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra etc], that must have been one of the biggest turning points for me.
You sing in different languages (French, English, Hindi and Urdu). How have your producers been receptive to your vision of what you want your music to be like?
When Rishi signed me, he knew what he was getting into! [He laughs] I like to try different things and push myself with every project that I do. Ultimately everything I do has my signature but at the same time I want to experiment with sounds and influences. The producers I work with seem to like that way of working and they expect it when they work with me.
In what language are you most comfortable in singing?
I think I’m comfortable in all three of my native languages (French, English, Urdu-Hindi) but I think the feeling and sentiment I get when I’m singing is very different in each language.
In what way your varied backgrounds are helpful in your career?
I suppose that growing up in the Paris arts scene with traditionally eastern influences exposed me to everything from Mylene Farmer to Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. All these different influences have shaped my understanding and appreciation of music.
How much of the real ‘you’ is expressed through your music?
I think every song expresses a different story, a different face and a different layer. Little by little you get to know more and more.
What comes deeper from your soul, music or lyrics?
Every song is different. Some songs come through a lyric idea and others are born through a melody that wakes me up in the middle of the night!
What made you to come into the field of acting?
I had studied acting originally, and then when the offer for Mazhavillinattam Vare (South Indian film) came, I really liked the concept and script so it felt like an interesting adventure. My Bollywood friends keep waking up the actor in me. Who knows!
How was the experience of working in Bollywood?
It was surreal and very exciting. Performing in front of thirty-five thousand people including all the top directors and my actor/singer peers from Bollywood was a very special moment. Working with Shahrukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra and touring across the world-- every step is more and more exciting. Signing with the Pan-Asian International Film and Music Awards is starting a whole new journey so stay tuned!
You are an actor and a model besides being a singer. Which out of these three is closer to your heart?
I know that when I entered the industry people first recognised me as a model, but music is what I have always been about. I’m first and foremost a musician but I think all these art-forms are related. I think films and even a photo-shoot can be a form of creative expression and that’s what I love being able to do.
What is the biggest misconception that people have about you?
The biggest misconception is that I’m arrogant. I’m actually a nice guy. (He laughs)
How often do you interact with your fans through social media and which social media do you prefer?
I try to stay in touch with fans through facebook (facbook.com/abbashasanonline), Twitter (@abbashasanmusic) and Instagram (@abbashasanofficial) all the time. It’s really nice to share things with them in real time and keep a direct communication because for me ultimately it’s all about them!
What are your pipeline projects?
There’s a lot of new music coming, some film-related projects that I can’t talk about yet and of course all the work I’ll be doing as an ambassador for the Pan-Asian Awards (PAIFMA)
Rapid Fire Questions
The song you grew up listening to: Mast Qalandar
Dream project: A soundtrack project with A. R. Rahman
Favourite band: Given that I’m good friends with Ahmed Ali Butt, I have to say EP of course!
Any weird hidden talents? I can read your mind!
Proudest moment in your career so far? The first time I heard my song on the radio
Solo artist or band: Being a solo artist gives you more freedom. But I love performing with a band.
The most important lesson you’ve learnt over the years? Follow your instincts and stay true to your message.
Favourite Pakistani singer: AbidaParveen
Your inspiration: All artists who struggled against oppression