While we are all familiar with Zayn Malik's track, Intermission: Flower, most of us don't know who inspired the British-Pakistani music sensation to release a song in Urdu.
The former One Direction member has revealed stories behind his solo track featured in his debut album, Mind of Mine, in his upcoming autobiography, Zayn and Rolling Stone shared a few excerpts of the book. One of the excerpts reveals Zayn's dad and the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan inspired the 23-year-old musician to release a track in Urdu.
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Here's what he wrote:
Malay (producer) and me were spending an afternoon sitting around the pool at the Beverly Hills hotel, writing down lyrics and messing about with melodies. Malay had his portable recording rig with him and the pair of us were talking about the Pakistani musician Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
I was really into him, because my dad had played his music a lot at home; I loved that the dude sang in Urdu, for one thing. A lot of people who know his music reckon he was one of the greatest artists of all time. He also turned a lot of people on to qawwali music.
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Zayn further revealed that a little twist to his melody led to the idea of recording a song in Urdu.
"As we were chatting, Malay picked up the Martin backpacker and began playing a little riff, based on an idea I’d shown him earlier that day – a melody I'd been playing with. He added a few twists and, immediately, it sounded amazing. I was like, 'Man, this is so cool. We should record some of this. And I think I want to sing this one in Urdu, like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan,'" he recalled.
"I knew that Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s music came from a spiritual place, and it was also almost like jazz: his band would find a hook, and they would sing and play it, but what happened next was pretty much improvisation, Intermission: Flowers soon took on a similar vibe. I was just riffing lyrics in Urdu over Malay’s lopped guitar, and we got it down."
Zayn further said, "Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan passed away in 1997, but in May 2016 I heard some talk that his nephew wanted to perform with me, to do a gig somewhere in India. He had taken on being the main guy in the band after his uncle's death and, once he'd heard the story of Flower, he reached out. Doing something with him — anything — would be an honour. Fingers crossed we can make it work."
Zayn, a British-Pakistani, further revealed that he penned the lyrics in Urdu – his father’s native tongue, to please him.
I was telling Malay about my relationship with him and how important it was for me to do well for him, to earn his approval.
"My dad's a hard worker and he has strong values. He was a personal trainer and is solidly built, and he used to go on at me all the time about being a good student and getting the right education. He wanted the best for me, and I wanted to please him in return."
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"I wanted to show him, as much as everyone else, that I could do it, and once the tracks started coming together with Malay and a number of other producers I'd been working with, I began to feel that I was really able to express myself vocally and I hoped my parents were going to see it from my side."
'Man, I know if Dad was to hear me sing like this,' I said to Malay one time, 'it would mean everything.'
Zayn, a tell all autobiography, will launch on November 1.
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