Singing sensation Saleem Javed talks to us about his choices, professional and personal life in a candid interview! Have a look!Give our readers your background, how you began your journey in music?
Born in Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan on Dec 25th, I started singing in my teenage years. I had a lot of influence of western music on my mind and my focus was mainly on pop music and doing experiments on eastern music with western. When I thought I had hit the ceiling of growth in my music career in Hyderabad, I decided to move to Karachi in 1983 with just 50 rupees in my pocket and a big dream of becoming a pop icon known not just in Pakistan but worldwide where I could represent my country proudly.
After a 2-year struggle period, with many local performances and getting my name out there, I finally had the opportunity to record my first music album titled “Listen to My Voice” It was released on March 7th, 1985. It was the first ever album recorded on a 24 track recording system which was first of its kind in Pakistan. The album was an instant hit. I introduced the concept of remixes in Pakistan from my very first album when I remixed Madam Noor Jehan’s song.
In 1986 my big claim to fame became a song dedicated to Pakistan’s cricket Legend Javed Miandad “Ab cricket kidunya main sub sea gay hai woh kaun, Javed Miandad” The song was made on the occasion of Javed Miandad hitting winning six against India in Sharjah Cup 1986.
Later in the early 90s, the song “Jugni” became my international identity as a singer and proved to be my career’s biggest hit and I have performed around the world ever since. Till date I have released 18 music albums, the most by any pop singer in Pakistan.
Do you feel that the trend of Pakistani music has died down in recent years? Why do you think so?
I think not having enough music channels to support the music industry in the last 10 years had damaged the music scene in Pakistan quite a bit. Then came the dawn of social media in the early 2010s but unfortunately we’ve had a bad luck with the on/off ban of social media outlets in Pakistan. However, over the past few years, I have seen a rise of Pakistani pop music industry again and with the growing number of branded music shows on social media is giving a hope of the revival of the Pop music industry in Pakistan.
How has pop music industry evolved over the years? Do you see any difference?
I listen to more of mature sound by the youngsters as opposed to the past. I believe the exposure of international music and a rising competition due to social media is setting the bar high for quality.
What do you make of modern music and its infusion with classic music?
In order to make newer generations understand the importance of classical music, fusion with modern/pop music is important. Also remixing old Pakistani songs can introduce the younger generation to great compositions and artists’ work from the past. How else will they know the legends of the country? They’re not searching for older songs on YouTube or Google. The curiosity will encourage them to explore the quality music of the past.
What have you learned from your seniors, especially Tehseen Javed Aalamgir?
I’ve seen my seniors respecting their seniors, therefore, the most important thing I learned was the same respect towards our industry seniors and also encouraged the upcoming artistes.
Give us some insight into your new projects?
Though my new album is ready, I haven’t decided if I’ll be launching a full album or release singles one by one from it. The music has been produced and engineered by my son Shezan Saleema.k.a JO-G.
How are you managing your gigs as a musician during the pandemic?
The music industry, especially concerts, have been badly affected due to the pandemic. There are hardly any events happening in the country. And it’s better to be safe than sorry. However we’ll bounce back stronger Insha Allah once we have dealt with the pandemic situation.
Where do you get your music inspiration from?
Inspiration is everywhere. There is not one particular artiste, genre, country or place to be inspired from. Anyone doing good music is an inspiration and a motivation for me to be better every day.
Who has trained you professionally as a singer?
I’m self-taught by following international trends of music. However, during my very early days in Hyderabad, I did have a teacher who taught me some basics and I picked up the rest with experience since I started performing at a very early age as well.
What needs to be done to ensure that Pakistani music is revered for what it is in Pakistan?
By giving a fair chance to new artistes more often. These new kids are different from us. They have different approaches towards music and performance. Also a lot more respect needs to be given to the senior pop artistes and many legends of the country.
Media plays a big part in it. Acknowledgement of the pioneers and caretakers of the industry needs to come from all corners. It wasn’t easy for most of us with many limitations and restrictions on national TV and Radio.
How do you wish to see the evolvement of the music industry in Pakistan?
The new wave of branded music shows on social media seems like a hope for a new era of the music industry in Pakistan. But if every show has the same faces in them, chances are it will halt again. So different artistes in every show should be the way to go.
How many hours do you practice a day to keep your vocal range intact?
A few hours a day. This includes not just vocal practice but also physical activity and taking care of fitness.
How was it like growing up in a family of musicians?
I was the first musician of my family and it was tough to convince my parents that I wanted to become a pop star. Eventually they accepted the fact when they saw my hard work and appreciated the fruits of success through my absolute dedication.
Who, in your family, is now emerging as a musician under your patronage, just like you were training as a youngster?
From my family my son Shezan Saleema. k.a JO-G has chosen the path of media as well. He is a professionally trained sound engineer and music producer from Canada and is also a filmmaker. He has been producing my music and doing engineering for me and many other artistes since he was a teenager. At the moment he is working on some international film and music projects in Toronto, Canada. He also directed a few of my music videos. He sings and raps too and has been featured in a few of my music videos as well.
Why is it that the international community enjoys your music despite Urdu not being their native language?
Music has no language or boundaries. Anyone who has a sense of rhythm and notes will enjoy good music.
To sign off, tell us where we can see you perform next?
Hopefully the pandemic ends soon and we get back on touring Insha’Allah. My Facebook page has all the announcements.
Pakistan or India – the best experience in terms of music?
Pillar of strength?
Something you regret in life?
Allah has blessed me with lots of success. No regrets.
Your best musical gig to date?
I’ve done 1000s of concerts, describing the most memorable would be tough.
Most rewarding collaboration?
My son produces music for me. He changed my sound a lot and put me ahead in the game when winds of music were changing to a new modern era.
Define Art in one word.
A medium of expression.