Realizing his ‘True Calling’ In conversation with Fahad Ahmad

A versatile actor, talented musician and a dedicated maestro who committed to pursuing his passion diligently when he left the world of finance as a successful investment banker, giving his all to the world of entertainment.
As he continues to impress us on the music front, morphing infectious western pop/rock with poetic Urdu/Hindi/English lyrics, as well as on the acting front, with amazing titles in drama serials, we are waiting with bated breath to see what he has in store for us in 2021.

Social Diary had a chat with Fahad the Maestro, who is paving the way for many to realize where their enthusiasm lies and how to work hard to realize efforts into results.

SD: Share a little with our readers about your upbringing and education?
Fahad: I was born on May8 and I’m the eldest of four kids. I studied Finance and Economics at Temple University, Philadelphia PA USA and then worked as an Investment Banker at JPMorgan in New York.
SD: How did you enter the field of music? What motivated you?
Fahad: I was always into English and Urdu music. I played guitar in my teenage years and made my first band called Eternal Zeal that had a song “Aashna” on the Music Channel Charts.
SD: Have you taken any professional training?
Fahad: When it comes to guitar and singing, I started learning by myself. I did end up getting formal training in singing in US in Western and Eastern styles.
SD: What were the odds you were up against while trying to enter the entertainment industry?’
Fahad: The major one was when I had to leave my professional job in New York to pursue music and acting full time. It was a challenge as family and people around you think it’s best to have a job and do these artistic ventures on the side. So that was an uphill battle. People always doubt you until you show them you can do what you have set your mind to.
SD: Which famous musicians or singers do you admire? Why?
Fahad: There are too many to list – Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (for his incredible talent, body of work), Junoon’s singer Ali Azmat (his passion, giving us enormous hit songs and making strides in Sufi rock genre), Junaid Jumshed(Major pop hits that we still sing; positive attitude) and many pop and rock singers here and abroad.
SD: What are your fondest musical memories?
Fahad: There are many great memories. Performing at the Lincoln Center in New York with notable international artists and having people like Mira Nair in the audience. She later came to meet me back stage and I was awestruck. Jamming with Ali Azmat at a friend’s house. Jamming with my friend and band mate Adnan at my place. Jamming with my brothers who are all musicians, and making up silly songs while doing karaoke and playing antakshari. Seeing a composition I made come to life in the studio. All are amazing memories.
SD: How often and for how long do you practice? What do you practice – exercises, new tunes, hard tunes, etc.?
Fahad: I try to practice an hour or two every day. Obviously if I am shooting (an ad, drama or film) I don’t practice that day. Sometimes I take my guitar to the set to practice in between takes. I start with basic riaz of various raags. Then I practice specific techniques. I end the practice with either singing my original songs or some covers that I enjoy or like at that moment.
SD: What do you feel about the existing status of singing/music academies in Pakistan? Are they important? Give your stance on it.
Fahad: I think NAPA and Arts Council are doing a decent job of training singers/musicians. However, outside of those we have a major shortage. People learn music on their own. All schools should have proper music programs that provide basic training and understanding of music. Studies have shown students who participate in music related activities achieve significantly higher scores in Math, Science and English as compared to non-musical classmates. So the benefits are numerous. Introducing music programs in schools will develop the next generation that appreciates and understands music better.

SD: How do you balance your music with other obligations – family etc?
Fahad: Well for the last few years I have been acting in dramas and films; my time gets divided between music and acting for the most part. I am very close to my family so any free time I get I try to spend with them. Days can be fairly unpredictable at times.
SD: Describe a typical day of yours?
Fahad: There are no typical days but on a day I am not shooting I wake up, have breakfast, do riaz, practice guitar, workout, have lunch, do some scene practice. Work on some new songs or plan on launching the next single. Spend time with family. On shoot days I wake up, have breakfast, review scenes for that day and go to the shoot.
SD: What skills/personal attributes are most important to you for being successful?
Fahad: You have to practice and really hone in your skill. Once that’s in place there’s a lot of networking and getting out there that is involved. Have a positive attitude and be persistent. Opportunities are not handed to you, you have to work hard.
SD: Is there growth in this field? How do things generally look for new musicians entering the field?
Fahad: The whole paradigm has changed slowly and then suddenly. If we look around, how many new superstars have been produced by Pakistani music scene since the collapse of music channels and record labels in 2007/2008? So it is a difficult ride, to say the least, however, if you are smart, talented making good music, you can make room for yourself. There are few new artists that are doing just that. Corporate music shows are also a good support for the industry and artists.
SD: Your take on Coke Studio?
Fahad: Over the last decade it helped us connect with a lot of Sufi and local music in a modern way. So I enjoy it as a listener. I would love to be a part of it if I get called.
SD: If there was one thing you could change about our music industry what would it be and why?
Fahad: Ecosystem needs to be put together. TV, Radio, Print, Web based platforms need to come together for developing and promoting local music artists and the scene. Corporate funded music is very useful but the scene has to be much bigger than that.
SD: What projects you are currently working on?
Fahad: I am planning on releasing a few of my own singles this year. I am also working on some new songs. On the acting side I have shot for a few upcoming dramas. A film is in the works but on hold for now due to corona situation. So things are moving forward.
SD: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Fahad: I am generally a very curious person. Anything that interests me I like to learn a lot about. I also have had a harder life than most people think. I have a cat. Also people might not be aware that I have done some comedy and have been told I’m good with deadpan humor.
SD: Name a few things you cannot leave your home without?
Fahad: Phone, keys, music either in USB or phone and a smile.
SD: What do you play on repeat mode on your music device?
Fahad: Currently the new season of coke studio and some of the songs from Velo Sound Station. And also some western songs. I also mix things up with some classic rock and pop songs.
SD: What message would you like to give to your fans through the platform of Social Diary Magazine?
Fahad: I know due to my acting stints many of you have been asking about my music. I am coming out with some new songs in 2021 so keep an eye out. Don’t let a bad day or a bad year like last year define you. Rest up, get up and rock on!


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