He was the scintillating ‘awaz’ of the nineties who brought a whole new meaning and stance to pop music in Pakistan. Looking at his immense talent, his undeniable energy and his passion to take on challenges and create work that hits on new horizons, Haroon Rashid is one of the leading game changers in the world of music. And now as he presents a whole new persona with his musical alter ego ‘Freddie Fiction’ all set to entertain us with a completely new kind of music, this multi talented artist is also all set to unveil his new animated project, alongside 13 new comic books. Speaking to Social Diary, Haroon lets us in on his work with experimental English, his major role and impact in bringing animation to Pakistan as well as whether we can expect an Awaz reunion soon. Read on…
SD: It’s been a while. Where have you been keeping yourself busy?
Haroon: Yes it has been a while. When I first set up my animation company Unicorn Black 10 years ago I thought I would not spend more than 2 – 3 years on producing the Burka Avenger animated tv series before I got back into music full time. But literally ten years have gone by and I have been working on multiple animated projects as well as other projects too such as 13 Burka Avenger comic books. These days we are training 100 young graduates in animation for free. There is so much potential in the animation field in Pakistan. I never thought I would get sucked into this world like this.
SD: Freddie Fiction- Let’s talk about this completely new and mysterious unveiling. Is it your new persona?
Haroon: Freddie Fiction is a musical alter ego. The reason I chose a new persona with Freddie Fiction is because my goal is to create music very different from Haroon and to push the boundaries of my songwriting/producing skills and often touch on topics that address global social issues. Haroon songs have a particular sound and I have a hard core fanbase for those songs going back decades. I don’t want to alienate Haroon fans with these experimental English songs, so I created a new vehicle to launch this music, Freddie Fiction. I have composed over 1,000 English songs over the years and I want to share them with the world. Hopefully some of my Haroon fans will like the Freddie Fiction stuff and follow the new youtube and instagram accounts for Freddie Fiction. While those that don’t can stick to following the Haroon socials.
SD: Lie to Me is probably one of the catchiest songs we have heard recently- the vision behind it ?
Haroon: The goal of every songwriter is to write songs with a great melodic hook and lyrics which can evoke an emotion. Lyrically I often draw on experiences I might have had or even experiences other people have had. This song came about because I wrote some other song, in my car, on the way to my animation studio and when I got there I sang it to my recording studio engineers. I was like pretty catchy huh? And they were like yeah it’s just ok. I was like huh just ok? I got up and went to get a glass of water and on the way I thought, let me write a better one. Then the lyrics and melody “You can just lie to me, lie to me, lie to me” just popped in my head. I walked back, quickly figured out the chords on my guitar and sang it to them, and then said so what do you think of this? And they were like yeah this one is pretty good. The song was super easy for me to write and compose. And when I would sing it to people on my acoustic guitar they would always praise it. The hard part was getting the music production right. That took months. I kept changing it up and trying different versions of the song. Sometimes faster, sometimes slower.
SD: The video also looks pretty hip and full of energy – how did you coin its zealous look ?
Haroon: The ‘Lie To Me’ music video was filmed on two different continents. In Africa, at sea level, on the sun-drenched beaches of Zanzibar, and in Asia, 2,800 meters above sea level, on the snowy peaks of Pakistan’s Himalayas and on the snowy peaks of Mushkpuri. A record for a music video film shoot with the greatest disparity in altitude.
SD: Is it something that will allow you to hit onto a completely new genre ?
Haroon: Yes the goal with Freddie Fiction is to experiment with different genres in English. I had a lot of success with Haroon but I felt I had climbed all the mountains that I needed to climb. Between Awaz and Haroon I recorded and released about 80 songs and many of them were huge hits. This is a new challenge that I am enjoying.
SD: Singing in English, do we have more such soundtracks in store?
Haroon: Yes I have three really great Freddie Fiction music videos all produced and ready to go. It is just a matter of figuring out the best time to launch them. I have also done rough recordings of over 10 Freddie Fiction songs. So the plan is to release a full Freddie Fiction album at some stage in the future.
SD: Your energy and passion remains unhinged- how do you keep it rolling?
Haroon: Love and passion for what I do combined with setting myself challenging goals always pushes me to work on my projects with as much excitement and energy as when I was 21 and just starting off with my band Awaz.
SD: Someone who had ruled the music scene for a long time, how do you compare the music stance of today to the time of the nineties?
Haroon: There has been an incredible resurgence in the music scene in the last couple of years. There is so much talent out there and these artists are creating their own new sound and style which is very exciting. I am loving what many of the new artists are doing. I also loved what Xulfi did with Coke Studio this year. I think it is only a matter of time until an artist from Pakistan has a global no.1 hit, whether it be artist like Abdullah Siddiqui or some Coke studio song that Xulfi produces.
SD: How do you think the music industry has progressed? Anything which is definitely a major setback?
Haroon: I think the music scene went through a down period 2010 onwards for a few years. The music TV channels such as Indus Music etc had shut down. There were less platforms for unknown artists to get a break unless they got that million in one chance to get onto Coke Studio or Nescafe Basement. But in the last 5 years there has been an amazing resurgence and that is all due to the spread of the internet and millions of people coming on to social media. This has allowed young artists to directly share their music online and build huge followings. So it is a revolution of sorts. So I think this is a very good time for music now and things will continue to improve. We have so much talent it is incredible.
SD: So here’s something many people probably don’t know. You are the brains behind the 3D animated children’s television series Burka Avenger which received critical acclaim as well as the thought-provoking ‘Teetoo ‘and Tania” as well as produce the pilot episodes of Quaid Se Baatein for Daniyal Noorani- , how important were these projects to your creative ingenuity?
Haroon: I had to immerse myself into this whole new very technical and creative world of animation, not only that I was deeply involved in the writing side for the animated shows. Also we created 13 comic books from scratch among many other projects. I felt all of this definitely had a very positive impact on me. I think the more difficult skills you learn the better it is for your brain. It is all interlinked if you are a better script writer you also become a better lyric writer and vice versa.
SD: Will you be bringing more of such amazing projects to our screens?
Haroon: Yes we are in the very early stages of working on a new animated project. We are just finishing off the script but it will be an animated feature film.
SD: What is your vision for 2022?
Haroon: I think it is shaping up to be a great year. We have put the insanity of the pandemic behind us and I think we will all be back even better than ever. Look out for more songs and videos from Freddie Fiction in 2022.
SD: Lastly, is it a far-fetched dream to even consider a reunion and have Awaz perform for us again?
Haroon: At this point an Awaz reunion is unlikely. We got together as a band in our early 20’s and produced music that was incredibly successful, we toured the world, made crazy music videos and had a lot of fun. So it would be fun to relive that one day. I think we would all enjoy a reunion but it is just a matter of figuring out how? We would need someone else to put it together.