Interview By: Asif Khan
I t’s a general perception when classical music is blended or fused in contemporary fashion, it somehow loses its hypnotic and ethereal feel but Raga Boyz, courtesy to their loyalty with their legacy, seem to brush such notions away.
The talented sons of living legend Ustad Hamid Ali Khan and the ninth-generation descendants of the celebrated Patiala Gharana, Wali Hamid Ali Khan, Inam Ali Khan and Nayab Ali Khan- are masters in all trajectories of music- from Ragas to Rock, Classical to Pop, Folk to Fusion and from Sufi to Heavy Metal.
Social Diary was able to catch up with the band to figure out how are they keeping their winning streak and handling their global fame with such enthusiasm!
SD: How difficult is it for Raga Boyz to reach out to that segment who are into rap and not raags?
We think the answer rests in fusion and as a band, we have always strived to create a new world for classical music and expanded it to embrace younger generation by introducing new traditions in the genre. Even in this sufi bandish while compositing the new and scales that we have improvised and maintained the percussive interest and melodic charm making it easier to connect and spiritually relate to the theme.
SD: Your recent collaboration for sufi bandish, “Ghareeb Nawaz” with unrivaled queen of sufi music, Abida Parveen, is garnering massive reviews globally. How did the idea come to your mind?
This is our humble tribute to the outstanding contribution of our forefathers in eastern classical. Musically it’s a contemporary blend of classical and Sufi , fused together with rock music .It is one of the biggest musical collaboration made for traditional sufi bandish, written and composed by Patiya Gharana . Wali has not only composed it but he has also improvised some new parts and we hope that this new feel of the bandish would be admired by all. The video has been directed by Hamza Yousaf and released by Sufi Score, a dedicated UK based youtube channel that promotes South Indian Music.
SD: Why did you feel the urge for this collaboration in contemporary form?
We think such collaborations are important if we intend to let the world know how rich our musical tradition is, its historical contribution and the legendary artists who we own. Abida Parveen is a living legend herself with billions of fans around the world whatever she brings out, becomes eternal. Similarly, the contribution of Patiyala Gharana, their renditions, bandish, kalaams and raags have their own following in their indigenous form.
SD: How was the experience working with the Sufi Queen?
Working with a legend like Abida Jee, who’s a marvelous source of inspiration to tons of musicians, is an achievement itself. With her, we strived to display an inspiring synchronicity that feels truly stunning. While maintaining her supremacy, she created a new aura each time she bent a pitch and took a leap, hitting a high octave.
SD: Who else was in your mind as a back-up if Abida Jee wouldn’t have agreed?
We had only and only Abida jee in mind as only she has that endowed prowess to weave the magic with such intricate composition with requisite aesthetics of love, emotions, soul and selflessness.
SD: How has the overall feedback been?
Even weeks before the official release, the teasers of the video were getting an enormous response from the music lovers across the world and until now it has more than 4.3M views to its credit, which is an overwhelming success. The performance of Nighat Chaudhry in the video, yet another maestro of her craft in classical dancing, is very convincing where she had completely outdone herself, giving soul to the words while displaying her virtuosic talent, astounding skills and exceptional artistic flair.
SD: What new projects are in the pipe line?
Our band is coming up a sufi bandish fused with rock music in which we would be collaborating with our father. We believe that to safeguard the rich music heritage that we own, it’s important to enrich our music on contemporary lines to reach out to a wider audience. Recently we also released a groovy Punjabi track Nachle Sohniye which became an instant hit.
SD: What do you think social media can do for dying trajectories of music?
Platforms like Sufi Score treat music as art and not like, that of a merchandise. They are promoting South Asian Music with honesty, without having a commercial interest. Many, out of their 4.57 M subscribers, appear to be genuine music lovers, well aware of the aesthetics of real music. We are really pleased that there are such platforms who are serving the music genuinely.