The fourth single to be released from their debut album titled ‘Mitti’ (‘Mitti’ is Urdu, for ‘earth/soil’), ‘Exile to Space’ is a soundscape with a hybrid Ethnic-Chillout-Blues-Rock sound. ‘Exile to Space’ has a mystical and empowered vibe as the English and Urdu lyrics blend into each other. While the English lyric speaks of the relationship with her Beloved and the qualities of both merging into a unit; the Urdu lyrics (excerpts from his poem, titled ‘Faqeer’ (‘Mystic’)) declare an almost real sense of liberation discovered while in ‘exile’ (‘jilawatni’, in Urdu). This exile is a state of being, not a physical banishment, but an emotional/spiritual escape to a parallel universe where he found freedom and yearns for enlightenment.
Hi there ! Where can we find you right now? How did you start your day?
Hi! «You can find me at www.maham-suhail.com.» is the first response that comes to my mind. *laughs*
But well, physically, I am currently in Lahore, Pakistan.
I started my day with a breathing meditation, and then tea.
When did the idea of starting a project start to take shape? Has it always been something you wanted to do?
By ‘project’, I suppose you mean, my album project, correct? Because I do have an E.P. titled ‘Pari Sufna’ which re-released last year, and a few performance & songwriting published projects online.
For this particular project, vis a vis ‘Mitti’, my 7-track debut album, as my inclination
towards ‘World’ or ‘Modern Ethnic Fusion’ music was growing, I decided to start compiling an album in 2017.
Yes, I always was a performer (Music (Vocals, Piano), Poetry, Theatre), and as I decided for Music to be my primary medium (being an AV artist too) in 2016, I began to think on the lines of recording an album.
How would you define the sound of your latest work? What is the concept behind?
The sound of my latest is a blend of Chillout-Ethnic-Blues-Rock, more like post-genre World Music.
The concept behind this track is that of discovering freedom in escape from the confines of the limited self, and getting liberated into a parallel universe where there is connection with the inner self.
‘Exile’ here, is a positive connotation, as the chorus of the Urdu lyric also talks about finding her kingdom in a state of exile.
The English lyric compliments this by also talking about what is in Sufi mysticism, referred to as ‘Ishq’, the most eveolved stage of love where the lover, the devotee becomes one with the Beloved (the Divine).
And this stage can only be reached by liberting oneself from the confines of the always needy, the limited, material self which has not experienced love as a state of being.
What artists are you interested in these days?
Jacob Collier, Nitin Sawhney, B B King, Abidah Parveen, Buno Mars, etc.
How do you manage to combine such disparate genres? How do you manage to give them unity and harmony? What do they have in common for you?
Very good question, indeed!
So, the way I look at brining genres together is, like one looks at an ensemble of multi-ethnic musicians orchestrated for a peace parade to play a symphony based on a few musical movements: Another analogy I imagine, is that of a painting composed of many colors yet beautifully color-balanced.
My ears are tuned to registering sounds, even microtones at times. It was my very interest in the intricacies of tones and the spaces between those, that attracted me to my last ustad (guru/mentor), Mr. Naseer-ud-Din Saami (He specializes in micro-tonal raaga singing).
I have been going off to remote natural sites and recording the details of wind & water, ice, etc.
And then, having the background of being trained at both Western & Eastern theories, with a vast listening and travelling/cultural exposure, I began to make way for bringing these various elements together through knowledge & intuition put together.
How would you define your sound?
My sound is a mix of influences. I think the very title of my debut album, ‘Mitti’, is a reflection of the main ideology behind my synthesis as a composer/producer/artist. As a practitioner of styles varying from Folk, to Western forms, to sonic textures & samples, and recording in 8 (regional, Persian & English) languages in between…I view my sound, in the bigger picture, as an ancient tree, firmly grounded to the organic roots, yet finding growth & blooming upward in a few directions.
Can you tell us something about your current or future projects?
I am currently working on, i. Co-producing a track with a young female rapper from Islamabad, ii. A TV acting/performance project in a genre new to me, comedy i.e., iii. Getting out there as a sync songwriter/producer in the international markets, something for which I am willing to re-locate too, if need be.
In the future, I see myself having released my entire ‘Mitti’ album, and the goal is to get signed as an artist and hopefully also as a sync songwriter with a library, Insha Allah!