Whether it’s his guitar or melodic vocals, Usman Riaz is a musician who knows his instruments well. His debut single Firefly caught everyone’s eye instantly and from then onwards, it was all about music for him. “I’m shocked to see more than 20 people in the audience today,” joked the humble 22-year-old at The Second Floor (T2F) on Friday night, where he was scheduled to perform.
“I find there are a lot of extreme limitations as far as teaching music is concerned; there is no middle ground for experimentation,” says Riaz, admitting that he learnt how to play the piano and was classically trained at the age of six. “When I first picked up the guitar at the age of 16, I would find stuff on YouTube. And later, I would pick up stuff from the internet [other websites] also.” He’s also very proud of the use of body percussion in his short film Ruckus.
Before the performance began, Riaz spoke a little about his musical family background. He is proud to be related to renowned Broadway performer Zia Mohyuddin and says music, basically runs in the blood line.
He also spoke about the numerous appearances he has made globally also and admits Ted Talk, which was held in Edinburgh, was “the most gratifying experience of them all.” He was also part of the team One Beat, which was a project sponsored by the US State Department. “Both were very different yet inspiring events. It was a broad experience for me altogether,” he adds.”
As the musical evening finally began, he performed on a couple of his own compositions such as Firefly, Shimmer, Bone Shaker, The Waves – which he played on the piano instead of the guitar and turned out to be a soothing and memorable performance – as well as on others such as Led Zeppelin’s Bron-Y-Aur Stomp and Preston Reed’s Ladies Night. The audience was spellbound and the silence broke into applause when it was over.
“I’ve seen him for the past three years and he used to be a complete introvert. How he just comes out and emerges as this great talent is amazing,” says Karen Zeb, who sat in the audience. “I believe that music can heal. His work touched a chord and paved the way for so much more to emerge,” says another fan Talha Iqbal.
He then screened a few minutes of his short film, The Waves, which will be released in June this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2013.
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