LAHORE - Singer-songwriter, composer and music director, Shuja Haider’s life has been entrenched in music. Haider rose to fame with his hit single ‘Tera Woh Pyar’. He is best known as a playback singer in commercially and critically acclaimed films Khuda Kay Liye and Bol. He marked his debut in television as a composer and vocalist with his host of OSTs for several drama serials including ‘Muqaddas’, ‘Sehra Main Safar’ and ‘Mann Mayal’. Haider has created a musical platter for audiences to enjoy a variety of genres.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation he talks about his career and success. Following are the excerpts of the interview:

You are part of Coke Studio Season 10. What are your expectations since you will be collaborating with other artistes?

I usually concentrate on my music and when it’s done all I do is to move on to the next project. I don’t expect much as the audience can respond to something which I can never think of! Like everybody had this thought that Khaki Banda would go in millions on you tube but it’s hardly 3 million ... but then it also got nominated as the song of the year in the Lux Style Awards.

You created a musical platter for audiences to enjoy a variety of genres in Coke Studio Season 9. What was your inspiration behind this?

When you are asked to do an episode in Coke Studio it totally means five different songs different genres. The platter means the variety of music which is very important for a responsible music producer to deliver. And I usually like experimenting and of course, there is no place better than Coke Studio to create a platter where audience is in billions.

How has been your journey in Pakistan music industry?

Strings have played a very important role in my life ... even when I was not known for my skills, Strings believed in me and gave me a chance to work with them and to arrange their songs. And then Coke Studio opened all the closed doors to someone who wanted to be acknowledged for the work he has done!

Luckily I started my career as a composer with the big names of Pakistan and it gave me the name and made me popular amongst the tops artistes of Pakistan.

The music for ‘Bol’ and ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ was very conceptual and usually different music faces opposition in field. What was your experience?

Working with Shoaib Mansoor is like you are working in a system where you can’t go wrong. Shoaib sahab had a very detailed brief on what he wanted.

I learnt a lot while working with one of Pakistan’s biggest genius in art of filmmaking and music.

You wrote and performed a song in an Indian film Ru Ba Ru. Share some memorable moments.

That was a quick job don’t really have any memory but I remember meeting Shreya Ghoshal and the chat on music we had while walking into a café. It was Strings who gave me the job to do its music.

Do you have advice for young people who want to become music director and composer?

Somehow I feel today’s generation has many issues and challenges to face and that’s understandable, but let’s not make your problems an excuse for not doing well in life and that applies to everything. As far as music is concerned we had people who always made original songs wrote original lyrics but somehow the culture of doing cover songs has made them an opportunist who wants to be famous overnight without hard work.

Make your own songs write your own songs and learn from your mistakes. One day you will know the benefits.  Bands like Strings never made it big just by singing covers. Junoon, Vital Signs and Awaz all made it big with their original music.

How in your view can the Pakistani music industry strengthen itself? Are we moving in the right direction?

We are! There are a lot of influential people who encourage a very low standard music and the youth sometimes take that as a lesson which to me is a mistake. It’s always a positive sign seeing the youth doing music but you need to understand your own potential first. It’s a full time job and it requires a lot of time and effort.

If you could change one thing about Pakistani music industry what would it be?

I would want and appeal to our government to take music seriously. Music education should be compulsory. We need music schools badly and this is the right time for it.

What kinds of music do you like the most?

Music that touches the heart and soul no matter what genre it is.

Is there an artist you want to work with that you have not yet had the opportunity to work with?

I wished I could have work with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Sahab. But I was very young when he passed away. 

Do you have a favourite musical project that you’ve worked on?

Yes, Season 9 and Mann Mayal were two project which got very popular in 2016. I also received an award for the best song Mann Mayal.

What has been the most difficult thing in your life’s journey so far? Who is your inspiration in music?

Life is a tough journey even in the most ideal situations. We still deal with a lot of problems, which require a huge amount of patience and tolerance but that’s life. It has its ups and downs.  My inspirations have been my grandfather master Sadiq Ali and my father Sajid Ali.

Any new upcoming projects in future that your fans would love to know?

Yes, my musical ensemble called “SoundScape is all set for the live performances. You will soon see me performing on stage.


Oneeba Afzaal