The Asian Today speaks to Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
Iconic qawwal and global superstar Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan performed his Back 2 Love Tour in the UK in late August. The Asian Today caught up with him after his performance in Birmingham’s LG Arena on Sunday 24th August.
The Pakistani national treasure singer, who returns to the scene after a seven-year album hiatus, released his latest album “Back 2 Love” on June 9th to rave reviews. The album, lauded by critics, combines modern love songs with a classic touch. Featuring 10 new songs, the incredible collection of love songs and collaborations is a fusion of techno, bass and traditional Asian themes which shows the singer at his best.
The lead track, “Zaroori Tha”, saw the song and music video receive an incredible response, becoming globally popular upon its release; it gained over 13 million views on YouTube and Vevo. The song features lovebirds Gauhar Khan and Kushal Tandon from the Indian reality show Bigg Boss who reunite on screen for the music video of the romantic sufi song.
The Bollywood hit-maker has collaborated with composer duo Salim-Sulaiman and singer Shreya Goshal in “Back 2 Love”. When asked about his experience in working with them, he said, “Well, I’ve performed numerous Bollywood songs with Shreya Goshal in the past. As for Salim-Sulaiman, I have worked with them on a few films previously.
“This was the first time I worked on an album with them, and it was a very enjoyable experience.”
The Ustad, who is a part of a legacy of great music, has said that his family has ‘600 years of music heritage’. In an act which shows his promotion of music beyond his own personal work, he partnered with Nokia MixRadio for the launch of “Back 2 Love”.
Explaining the purpose of the music platform, the qawwal said, “It’s a music streaming service that has a lot of global music and it features approximately 30 million music tracks from a variety of music genres. It’s a music app where the listener can access the music through a number of different means.”
The singer was advised in his youth by his uncle, the legendary qawwal Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, to “keep listening to all of the world’s music, they will give you something”.
Speaking about his own music taste, the Ustad said: “Well, I enjoy listening to a lot of old qawwals and modern qawwals too. I listen to a lot of musicians from the Indian subcontinent.
“Any international music I come across that I like, I tend to listen to that too.”
When asked if he listens to any English boy bands or singers, the modern music icon said, “yes, I do listen to English music but what I do listen to is generally from older English bands.”
Performing live was a basic skill the global singing sensation was taught from a very early age, under the tutelage of his uncle who had mentored him from the age of three.
The qawwal has branched out from the genres which saw his greatest devotion in the past, that of sufi and qawwali, in which he saw great encouragement from Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Outside of live performances, the film industries of Bollywood and Lollywood have played a significant part in increasing the Ustad’s exposure to the masses outside of the Qawwali genre and the majority of the great qawwal’s songs for Indian cinema have been instant hits.
When asked about his extensive performances in India, the singer said, “What I enjoy most about performing in India is related to singing.
“The people in India understand a lot about music and singing, so whenever we go and perform there, we always really enjoy it.”
The singer has previously said that as music is one language, there is no boundary in understanding music and so music created by Pakistani artists crosses over well into India.
In reference to his plans for the future, the Ustad said, “Well, we plan to do a lot of international collaborations in the coming weeks. We’re looking forward to working with a number of different people.”
Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s album “Back 2 Love” is available for download on iTunes.
Photography by Adil Iqbal @sayarts