Going Solo: Bilal Ali’s musical journey gets a new direction

  • 01 Jul - 07 Jul, 2023
  • Wajiha Jawaid
  • Interview

The lead vocalist of Kashmir Band, Bilal Ali, is all set to take a big leap in his career with the release of his first solo music album. The singer cum lyricist has already released three solo numbers, ‘6 Mahine’, ‘Har Qadm’, and ‘Saath’i0 that reflect Bilal’s distinct identity. MAG got a chance to meet the mesmerizing singer at his residence where he talked about the latest development in his career. Wearing black t-shirt and loose trousers, he warmly greeted us before leading us to his state-of-the-art jamming studio. Surrounded by musical instruments, Bilal excitedly shared the highs and lows of his musical journey. The singer while exclusively talking about his first album said the singer’s true identity often gets blurred while working on the band ideology and going solo will help him to unleash his hidden potential. He and he may be able to narrate stories that he has always wanted to tell the world. We were lucky to listen to one of the songs from his upcoming album – it was a heartfelt duet, beautifully sung by Maria and Bilal. The high on emotion track had meaningful lyrics and I instantly fell in love with soulful vocals and melodious tunes. Here is a snippet of our conversation with the superbly talented singer. Read on….

Your life must have changed after winning Pepsi Battle of the Band. What is the best way to sum up your journey?

Yes, a lot has changed in my life, but I see it as just the beginning of the journey to achieving a dream that I had when I was just 13 years old. There is a lot more to explore and experiment in the field of music.

I had read that a talented musician would write the lyrics before beginning the composition. How do you go about making fantastic music?

There isn't a set rule for it. Sometimes they create the music first, then write the lyrics. In other cases, the situation is vice versa. What exactly goes through my mind while writing a song depends heavily on my mood and preferences. Additionally, anything you experience in life may unconsciously influence the music you compose at a given time. I also have my old guitar, which I consider my 'lucky charm' - it has always helped me create magic. Every time I play on it, I end up making great music. Anything can inspire an artist; just a few days ago, I was watching the Spiderman movie and was so moved by it that I ended up creating a beautiful rendition.

Did you remember that time when you realized that you wanted to be a singer?

My father wanted me to become a cricketer but destiny had different plans for me. I discovered my love for music during my stay in Dubai. Once I went to an internet café and I overheard Limp Bizkit’s song there. It inspired me a lot to become a musician. Moreover, my father was an ardent music listener so I grew up listening to Micheal Jackson's iconic numbers and Bollywood tracks, sung by Sonu Nigam, and Kumar Sanu.

So, do you consider yourself lucky as you have parents’ support in pursuing a music career?

My parents supported me because I never disappointed them in academics. My grades were above average, I preferred to stay at home and rarely went out with friends. So, they were happy in letting me kill time in a constructive activity. My elder sisters used to play piano and guitar and a tutor used to come to our place to teach her. Once the tutor asked her to clip her nails as it often created hindrance in playing the correct chord on the guitar. Being rebellious, she refused it and stopped playing guitar. Her rebellious nature turned out to be a blessing for me as I got that guitar.

You were doing fabulous in the Kashmir band. Why did you decide to release a solo album?

I haven’t left my band – I am still part of it. We have a mutual understanding where all the band members are allowed to work separately – it gives us creative freedom. So far, I have released three solo tracks and as far as their tone and style are considered, they are different than what we do together for the Kashmir band. I decided to release my solo album because I have always wanted to tell my stories to the world whereas in Kashmir, we keep things generic. Even if the songs we have written for the Kashmir platform are thought-provoking, they aren't as intense as my solo efforts. But let me also make it clear that Kashmir Band has always come first in my priorities; I just began working on my solo record after finishing Kashmir's upcoming music album.

Considering Pakistan’s current socio-political situation, do you think making a career in music is a lucrative option?

The situation was worse than it is now a few years ago. Nowadays, corporate events and concerts occur frequently, and social media also exists to give anyone immediate visibility. To achieve one's goals, one only needs to be determined and focused.

You just said that social media is a terrific tool for marketing, but when we closely examined its dynamics, we discovered that frequently, trash content goes viral and quantity takes precedence over quality. What opinions do you have on the matter?

I agreed with whatever you have said but this situation never demotivates me. Some people love our work and appreciate it. Once I was coming back from a concert, and at the airport, I met an old aged man who wanted my autograph. He told me that he was on dialysis and my songs helped him pass that difficult phase of his life with courage. Similarly, once a fan tweeted me that he had lost his father and he couldn’t sleep because of it. Our song, Soch, helped him in overcoming his pain. Incidents like these are great courage boosters.

Tell us about your experience of doing a live concert.

The experience is definitely on another level, and it has only gotten better with time. Things have changed with time; we are now eagerly anticipating our next major performance because it gives us such an incredible boost that is difficult to put into words.

Do you still remember the time when you made your first appearance on the stage?

I can never forget that day – it was a Battle of the Band event at CBM University. Noori was judging the contest. I sang the entire song looking straight into the SMD. After the performance, we came back home with no hope of winning the battle but luckily, we were announced winners and organizers were looking for us on the campus but we weren’t there.

Who is your all-time favorite singer?

When it comes to live performance, no one can beat Arijit Singh. He is mesmerizing as a live performer. Other than him, Coldplay and Guns N' Roses are awesome too.

We have also heard that you admire Atif Aslam a lot. Is it true?

Honestly speaking, I haven’t found a humble and down-to-earth person as Atif Bhai ever in my life. We were lucky to be mentored by him on Pepsi Battle of the Band. Later, whenever we meet him, he shows the same affection and love. I still remembered that once we had to perform at a concert and our performance was just before him. There were separate arrangements for all the artists backstage and Atif Bhai left his space and came to greet us. His humble gesture lifted our morals and we did our best afterward.

What are your plans?

The follow-up album from Kashmir is coming, and many more projects are in the works as well. There are other solo projects. We intend to continue performing together as a band for at least the next 30 years. Our goal is to grow to be as popular in Pakistan as Junoon and Vital Signs.