It was an emotional decision. He had come home after meeting Goher Mumtaz one last time. Then, he updated his Facebook status, which read, “Shazi left what was left behind…No more with Jal…Been through good and bad with you. But bad is rather memorable…Over and out.”
Shazi had always been the underrated bassist of Jal. He was seen as an outsider. He had been working on the perennial underground rocker Shahzad Hameed’s album with the Meekal Hassan Band, when he met Atif and Goher, who were recording Aadat, in 2003.
Shazi sat down with The Express Tribune to look back at his career, from the beginning till its end, and all the trials and tribulations of Jal in between. After making his announcement, he switched his phones off for several weeks, and tried to think about what he wanted from the world of music. The emotional decision had to be made due to his approach to the band. Shazi says that he never put himself first and was just looking to make good music.
“Whenever you make music you have to have fun, it’s that simple,” he says.
“These days, music is more like a business, there is pressure, you have do things a certain way.”
He said that the tension within the band occurred several months after Farhan left Jal. It was an interesting period for the band, since Jal was being forced to re-invent itself for its upcoming album. The band had started to promote Shazi in the form of a vocalist on one of the tracks.
It was also difficult due to the changing dynamics of the industry. The music business is very different now than it was during the time of Aadat, and Jal’s initial success. Farhan had managed to forge a solo-career on the basis of the viral hit Pi Jaun, a song that had been composed by Saad Sultan.
Meanwhile, Shazi and Goher were being faced with the possibility of being overlooked by a vastly changing market. The first single after Farhan left, Mahi Ya, was used predominantly in order to show the band’s new line-up, but left Jal fans wanting more.
“Something changed. The band is family to me, and it’s very personal, but change makes it very hard to stick together,” says Shazi. This upheaval within the band occurred on the 10th anniversary of Aadat, a song which changed the industry for good in the mid-2000s.
“It’s true we probably could have produced something better, if we trusted each other. It’s all about working together, if I am thinking something different then let’s sit down and work it out,” Shazi explains.
“You can’t think along the lines of ‘if this person likes this. We as a band could have experimented, which was not allowed,” says Shazi. More importantly, Shazi says that the situation of Pakistani music is very bad at this point.
“It’s fine that music is a business, but don’t take it literally, if it’s not me or you, there are other artists waiting in line — that standard we are searching for has finished,” says Shazi
“People are focusing on solo careers, and what I have noticed is that that people are now competing with themselves, instead of with bands. This is because, slowly, everyone is going solo.”
Since announcing his retirement from Jal, Shazi has already started work on his solo compositions, which he wants to release in the upcoming months. Shazi is working on developing a team of people with whom he could work long-term, and will be working on side-projects with various musicians.
“When you’re making music you can’t always look at for its audience. Its more about what you can bring from inside yourself. I also am looking to make an album because for me, there is a charm in that and it’s very natural,” says Shazi.
The Express Tribune also contacted Goher, who refused to comment on the band’s future following Shazi’s departure.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2014.