Here’s a riddle for you: who is a pakka Lahori, loves spicy food, wears Clark Kent-inspired glasses and has recently been performing concerts all over the US? Well, it’s Bilal Khan, of course! The melodic crooner has been busy since the early fall, performing various concerts at American universities while casting a spell on college girls with emotional ballads such as “Tou Kya Hoa”, “Bachana” and “Mata-e-Jaan” amongst many others.
Guarded by a cabinet member of the Pakistan Student Association of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, the humble and soft-spoken Khan opened up in an interview about his first-ever US tour and his experiences throughout the journey.
Instantly, Khan’s gratitude towards his fans was a topic of discussion as he credited them for allowing his music to grow all over the world, from where it all once started — his bedroom, where he conceived and penned ballads and melodies that are now known as Bilal Khan’s songs. When asked about the difference in recognition he received from his fans in Pakistan and America, he said: “I feel like here [in the US], Pakistanis respect music a lot more because they sort of long for that connection with Pakistan and the music builds our relationship. It’s really cool to witness that in a foreign environment and have a common thing that binds us together.”
The musician believes that the past two years, where he accomplished so much, have been a destiny that he had only fantasised about; these events have confirmed his belief in a Higher Power, somewhere in the universe. He further said that his second album, titled Maktoob (it is written), will release next year. Elaborating on what the name actually means, he said, “It’s more about leaving it up to the universe — whatever is written, you will eventually get [it].” This further explains the point behind his teaser song “Larho Mujhay” from “Coke Studio”, which is to be released as a part of this album whose lyrics are: “Muskurata rehta hoon, duniya se ye kehta hoon, mil jaein ge mujhko khawaab bhi. Dil ko zinda rakhta hoon, khushiyon se ye bharta hoon, itna tou hai khud pe yaqeen.”
Discussing the recent ban of YouTube in Pakistan, he said the situation of dying music channels in the country and the internet being the only medium left to promote music, “It’s quite a shame that it has to be the way it is.”
With his social services stance in tow, Khan modestly ended with a message for the next generation of Pakistanis across the globe: “If you dream big enough and put in the hours, you can do amazing things.”
Follow Bilal Khan on Twitter: @bilalkhan and on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/bilalkhanmusic.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2012.