Interview by Maria Manzoor for Style & Art
What bands are you working with?
Usman: As far as my musicianship is concerned, I am part of two bands apart from my solo projects. One is called ‘KHARAJ’, in which I am the vocalist/lead guitar player/song writer and the other is ‘SATURN’, in which I am a backing vocalist and rhythm guitar player.
Tell us more about Saturn?
Usman: Saturn, a five members progressive rock band and is one of the pioneer rock bands from Islamabad. Saturn started playing in the year 2000 and has been active since then i.e. fourteen years.
The band is known for its powerful live performances. Over the years, Saturn has managed to seek attention of masses and have made a huge fan base nationally and internationally. The band had been in the spotlight since the year 2000 and has released many hits including ‘Kuch Nahi’, ‘Dhundla Aasman’, ‘Kuch Khaas’ and many others. Saturn has been dubbed one of Pakistan’s loudest bands.
The band released its debut album ‘Naya Din’ in April, 2013 which rose the popularity bar of the band to a whole new level. ‘Naya Din’ has been nominated as one of the best music albums of the year in Lux Style Awards, 2014.
And what about Band Kharaj?
Usman: Kharaj is a three members Islamabad based rock band which has been active since 2002. During more than a decade long active tenure with Kharaj, it has released three music videos, six singles and one music album called ‘Aag’.
Kharaj is a main stream multi award winning band and is known for its hard hitting impact and electrifying live performances.
What can you tell us your Solo Projects?
Usman: Apart from my bands, I am also working on my solo projects which are expected to hit the channels in December, 2014.
How did you start producing and what gave you the motivation to stay with it? Music producer and a cinematographer/ film maker?
Usman: Music has always been my first love, frankly. It gives me inner peace. I started audio production at a very early age. I preferred learning it and doing it all myself instead of going to producers and getting my content produced because in the whole process, somehow (I feel that) the artist’s originality gets overshadowed. Producing/recording songs exactly the way I had though them to sound like had been my concern from the very beginning.
As far as filmmaking is concerned, I always wanted to be one. It always fascinated me. I started working as one few years back. Started off with shooting / experimenting with my music videos. Later when I got a hang of it properly, I started working on commercial projects as well.
With all the music producers in the world, what made you think that you were still going to be successful in this field?
Usman: Well, I never intended to compete with any of them honestly. Every producer has a unique skill set and own ways of getting the job done. I became a music producer because I never felt satisfied with other people producing my content, the way they wanted. It kind’a took my originality out of it.
If you can come up with one habit that could possibly ruin or stall a person’s career, what would that downfall be?
Usman: Unorganized way of executing things with no backup.
Maintaining a successful career takes a lot of work and commitment, how much time do you dedicate towards your work?
Usman: To be successful, it does need alot of hard work and dedication. At the beginning of my career, the only thing I had in mind was doing music. It was like Oxygen to me. Fortunately, all that efforts and hard work paid off. There are no set hours. The time varies from project to project.
I make sure, that whatever I produce is worth listening to. That’s all. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many hours I, spent making it. All that matters to any artist out there is the appreciation that he gets from his fans for what he does and is good at because that’s what makes him an artist.
There are times in a career when life isn’t going your way, how do you keep your mind on your work without losing focus?
Usman: Every experience whether good or bad has a lesson for us. One should learn from it and move on. I am an optimist. I look at the brighter side and plan for the worst. Everybody has career downfalls. That doesn’t mean, one should lose hope, sit at home and wait for a miracle to happen. Things get better when you work for it. That’s what I do.
What goals did you have set before you started your career?
Usman: It all started as a childhood hobby, honestly. I had no plans of pursuing any of the things I do, professionally. As the time went by, things changed, so did my aims and I kept on setting new goals and benchmarks for myself and here I am now!
What did you have to sacrifice to make your business happen? (hobbies,etc)
Usman: I don’t think I sacrificed anything to become who I am today. I set goals for me, worked for them, focused and achieved them one by one. Everything I do (be it music, audio production or filmmaking) are all related and the skills I developed over the years has benefited me in every way. It was all a passion, still is, always will be. This is what I like doing, so yea! I never sacrificed anything.
Is there any additional advice you can give me to help along the way to have a successful career?
Usman: Stay focused, never get disappointed and try being the best version of yourself. Stay original. You are in competition with none other than yourself only.
What is your favorite thing about being a cinematographer/DP?
Usman: I capture moments. I give life to ideas.
What personality or character traits are necessary to excel in being a cinematographer/DP?
Usman: Like I said, determination and passion are key things required for learning. Filmmaking is a skill, which anybody can learn. If one sticks to it, keep experimenting and trying new things / ways, he/she gets better at it with time. Life is a learning process.
How your fans can contact you on facebook or emails?
Usman: I have my fan pages/channels on facebook / reverbnation / twitter / youtube / taazi.com etc. They can get in touch with me there and follow my work.
Where do you see yourself after 4 or 5 years?
Usman: At a better level professionally, if things went the way I planned them to go.
You are the face of Style & Art, how does that feel and few words for Maria Manzoor who take interview?
Usman: I am honored and obliged. Style & Art and Maria Manzoor both are doing an amazing job at promoting artists. This is a very good platform for professionals as well as the new comers. Keep up the good work *Thumbs up*.