We’re seated on a sofa in Farhad Humayun’s swanky apartment, where he was up till late last night working on his music. He’s usually an early-riser but with his work trickling into the wee hours of the night, he tries to catch up on sleep the next day. Despite having woken him up, he is cheery enough to talk about the two videos he is set to release post-Ramazan and his life mantra.
One of his upcoming songs, Give In, is about surrendering and accepting that one is not in control of where one’s headed. Although the Overload frontman has written many English songs before, he says he didn’t have the confidence to release them until now. “I want to be a cross-over act and don’t like to be restricted to any one place or audience,” holds Farhad. “People usually consider Bollywood as the natural step forward but, although I’m impressed with their production and grandeur, I feel they’ve not intellectually matured, so the only place to go is westwards.” Part Urdu and part Punjabi, the second song is titled Meetha Toast, which he interestingly conceived after a couple of cooking experiments in his kitchen.
Farhad shares Overload recently toured the United Kingdom, where their music was lauded by international audiences. “I’ve played with many bands as a session artist, producer and drummer but this was unbelievable because it felt like all those years meant something to people,” he says of his experience. “When you can touch people positively, it’s a great feeling.”
The musician created riotarts.com last year with a database of nearly 300 songs, but it was hacked into and erased two months ago. “I know who you are and I’m going to get you,” he says vengefully. He opposes people who create websites that don’t pay artists, citing Patari as online music portals that are in violation of copyright law.
Channelling his inner rockstar, he says, “I like freedom and don’t like to be boxed in. I don’t like rules, conditions, and boundaries. I like self-constructed rules that don’t necessarily reflect those constructed by society.” He shares that the music he creates is extremely personal. “I like to [express my stories] artistically like I did with my past two ballads, Bolo Na and Nimmi Nimmi.” As strong as his penchant is for making music, Farhad acknowledges it’s not a lucrative profession on its own. “You can’t get rich from selling songs … one has to be open to collaborating, travelling and other ventures.”
Overload, which Farhad founded along with Shiraz, has been an integral part of his career trajectory. “I know myself because I know Overload … if it wasn’t in my life, I might’ve been directionless,” he says. “I’m not a solo artist and like working with likeminded people, so Overload is the one thing that keeps me grounded.” He is content with the direction the band has taken over the years. “We’re making original music without being sell-outs who make entirely Sufi music just because that sells.”
Farhad worked for music show Pepsi Smash in November 2012 but shares he won’t be a part of the project anymore. “My problem was that Pepsi did not promote the first season properly. It takes a while for new things to resonate with the public, as was the case with Coke Studio’s first season,” he notes.
He has also been part of Coke Studio, which is interesting, considering it’s often a tricky to be associated with rival companies. But he clarifies he wasn’t a brand ambassador of either of the two brands and that they simply hired him to produce their shows, which is what he did. “When Coke Studio season 6 wasn’t offered to me, I worked with Pepsi Smash because producing music was my aim,” he says. As brands have been growingly affiliating themselves with music, Farhad feels they aren’t interested in being a driving force for the industry and are merely focused on their product.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2015.
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