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Pakistani veteran singer and composer Faisal Kapadia, known for his work with Strings, recently sat down for a candid chat with Rolling Stone India to discuss his debut solo album and what the future holds for his musical genius. Kapadia, who co-founded Strings alongside Bilal Maqsood, closed a 33-year chapter in music when the band ended in 2021.

Kapadia’s involvement in Coke Studio Season 14, particularly the track Phir Milenge featuring Young Stunners, marked a significant departure from his usual. “It excited me, it was something out of my comfort zone, collaborating with rappers,” the singer recalled. This newfound inspiration culminated in his debut solo album, Zindagi Jahaan Le Jaaye, released in February this year. The album showcases a slick synth-pop sound, reflecting Kapadia’s musical preferences and influences.

New times, new journey 

Reflecting on the evolution of the music industry, the Dhaani singer highlighted significant changes in music production, marketing and distribution since the early days of Strings. “When we started, we had to be four or five band members together on bass, guitars on keys and drums and that’s how we used to record music,” he mused. “Nowadays, it’s more producer-driven music where one guy produces the whole song, more or less.”

On a lighter note, he furthered on, “Someone from the new generation, if they were to ask me, ‘Can you guide us through this [music industry]? What should we do?’ I tell them, ‘I need your guidance because what we used to do… things have changed.’”

Despite these changes, Kapadia expressed his enthusiasm for embracing the new journey as a solo artist, distancing himself from past accomplishments with Strings and focusing on personal exploration and creativity. “That was Strings. And now it’s me, so I’m not trying to take any advantage of my past and just do things as a newcomer…I’ve just dived into the ocean and now I’m swimming wherever the wind takes me,” he added.

When asked about synth-pop turn with Zindagi, the 52-year-old delved into the process behind his solo album, explaining that the music he listens to daily largely influenced its sonic direction. “This is the music I listen to, which is on my playlist every day. Of course, there are some amazing rock bands and yesterday’s alternative rock bands, which I like. But what I’m listening to these days, it’s all synth-pop,” Kapadia observed. 

For the singer, this turn makes sense given how synth-pop dominates the mainstream these days. However, for old fans of the veteran artist, Kapadia admits to preserving his signature moves. He said, “Composition-wise, yes, my music does have a feel of a bit of retro because that’s what I am. I am not a 19-year-old guy. My voice, it’s not a youthful voice. So it will take you back to that Strings era where you used to listen to Dhaani or Duur.”

“Now this journey I’m on is at a time when I don’t have much to take from this world, and I am not looking for any rewards, I’m not looking for any destination. I just want to enjoy the process,” he elaborated on his new sonic era. Consisting of four solo and four collaborative tracks, Kapadia recounted how one track, in particular, came about: La Takhoun featuring Krystel Dib.

Collab with Krystel, Ankur

“My plan was to just make one song. That was Jaadu,” he confessed. “It was itching me that, okay, I want to do one song, at least after Strings. Then I took a break, in the sense that I just wanted to explore the world.” It was when Kapadia ventured into a camp in Poland as part of his self-discovery that he crossed paths with Krystel, a fellow participant and music instructor specialising in Arabic music.

Their encounter led to an unexpected collaboration, with Kapadia recalling how their initial conversation sparked a creative connection. Despite initially concealing his professional background as a musician, his shared passion for music prompted a spontaneous collaboration that laid the foundation for his solo endeavours.

Looking ahead, Kapadia expressed his adventurous spirit, likening his approach to that of a “hitchhiker” or “banjara,” indicating his openness to new musical experiences wherever life takes him. “My next move is going to be to make a few videos out of the album. I wanted to release the album without any music video…So probably in five, six months, I will release five to six songs.”

This ethos extends to his willingness to collaborate with artists from diverse backgrounds, as evidenced by his recent interactions with Indian musicians Ankur Tewari, Karsh Kale, and Bangladeshi artist Shayan Chowdhury Arnob. 

“We were planning to work on a song, to collaborate. We all met in Dubai and Ankur and I go a long way back. I’ve known him since the past, almost 20 years. Karsh, I’ve been a huge admirer of his work and his music. And then Arnob, he’s a pop star,” Kapadia fondly recounted a creative rendezvous with the Indian cohort in Dubai, where they convened at Rahman Sahab’s Firdaus Studio for an impromptu jam session.

The camaraderie shared during this meeting has inspired discussions of future collaborations, with plans to convene again in Thailand for further musical exploration. He disclosed, “We’re just still planning that this year, we all have to meet and go in the studio and record something.”

Music beyond borders

In addition to these collaborations, Kapadia expressed admiration for emerging Indian artists including The Yellow Diary with whom he collaborated as part of his album’s promo. “The Yellow Diary, their music is really amazing. I recently went to an Anuv Jain concert and I really enjoyed it. I met him after the show and told him it’s amazing how one person on an acoustic guitar can pull off a great show,” he revealed.

He went on to list other commendable names from the burgeoning music scene in India. “I really like Prateek Kuhad and apart from that, there are so many amazing musicians – The Western Ghats, Vismay Patel, Twin Strings, Dream Note, Abhilasha Sinha and Hanita Bhambri,” the singer listed.

Kapadia also praised the mutual respect and collaboration between Indian and Pakistani artists. He reminisced about Strings’ collaborations with Indian bands like Euphoria and Indian Ocean, expressing optimism about the renewed exchange of music and friendship between the two countries’ musicians. 

He contended, “Thank God that the new generation is also respecting each other. They are also going through that process that okay, Pakistan and India, whatever their histories are, we can be friends and we can work together.”

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