A sweet voiced singer- song writer, Maha Ali Kazmi is exceptionally talented; and versatile singer. From early childhood Maha developed a taste for music through exposure from her dad who has a penchant for both western classical music and old school 60s and 70s bands/artists. Born in Karachi and a self-taught artist, Maha started writing songs at the age of 16 following which she graduated in Finance & Macroeconomics/Management from Monash University, Melbourne – Australia. In 2013, Maha was selected as the backup vocalist for Cornetto Music Icon where she performed alongside artists such as Ali Azmat, Strings and Alamgir to name a few.

With her dad's vast repertoire of record collection at her disposal, she became familiar with the works of great artistic geniuses like Nancy Sinatra, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Mark Knopfler, Leonard Cohen, Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, The Smiths, Moody Blues, etc at a fairly young age. She feels she really understood the intricacies of song writing during her time spent in Melbourne as her song writing improved and matured with her musical experiences.  Her songs ‘Nazar’ with Overload’s Farhad Humayun and ‘Jana Nahi’ wowed the audience.

In an interview with Sunday Plus, Maha talks about her singing career, music sense and her upcoming projects.  Take a look:

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

I joined the college choir to get an understanding of western classical music while I was studying in Melbourne.  I love jazz and old school American rock music. I guess a lot of people say that my original numbers both Nazar and Jana Nahin remind them of 90s rock music.

What do you think is the relationship between lyrics & poetry?

As a song writer I understand there is a difference between just rhyming words and meaningful poetry.  Every song has a story behind it. I just translate that story into lyrics.

What do you think is the most important aspect of a song?

A powerful chorus

In your view what makes a song successful or not successful?

The way people consume music in the digital age has changed what makes a hit. People mostly listen to music online, but there really isn’t a key formula. I think the best an artiste can achieve is to put their song out there knowing that they’ve done all they can on their part.

How does it usually take you to write a song?

Sometimes it takes two days. These are songs that seem to come out of thin air almost like they write themselves. However, there are songs that I have spent months on.

Tell us a bit about your songwriting process. How does a song usually develop – do you first start with the lyrics, melody, chord progression, or something else?

Most often my ideas lead to a basic melody so I compose the melody and write lyrics simultaneously. I always write the verses first, then the chorus and the bridge.

How would you describe your vocal style?

I believe every singer’s voice stands out. I believe I have a powerful voice with a certain soft texture to it.

Do you find recording to be a challenge that you enjoy?

I used to get really nervous before vocal recordings but now I look forward to them. I think if you’re not happy with a take you can always record again so there really isn’t anything to be nervous about.

How do you physically, emotionally, and mentally prepare before recording a song?

I make sure, I rest and use my voice as less as possible a day before the actual recording.  I usually drink a lot of green tea to make sure my voice is in good shape.

What do you think about the social media as a tool for promoting yourself & your music?

With the absence of record labels in Pakistan, nowadays songs are released on soundcloud, vimeo and facebook so social media plays an extremely important part in getting an artist’s music across to the right audience.

What are your plans & hopes for the future with regard to your music?

Right now my main focus is on releasing an album by the end of this year.

What hindrance you find in the growth of Pakistani music industry?

Most Pakistani artists are struggling with the question of how to monetize their music.  There are hardly any record labels around. One has to really struggle to finance one’s singing career.

What thing inspires you a lot in your life?

Art, movies, books and travelling.

For you music is…

One thing in my life that keeps me going.

What do you mostly do in your free time?

Work out. I believe in a very healthy life style. Twice a week I attend Sheema Kermani’s dance class to learn the eastern classical dance form and I love reading and watching movies in my free time.

Where do you see yourself in next 5 years?

I hope to get done with at least 3 to 4 albums, and of course trying out some other forms of performing arts like acting.