Best known for their compositions – Ankhon ke saagar and Mora Saiyaa, Pakistani rock band Fuzon, formed in 2001, has come a long way. Started by the trio – studio sessionist Imran Momina, Shallum Asher Xavier and Shafqat Amanat Ali, Fuzon was the first band to release its debut album Saagar concurrently in India and Pakistan.
Shafqat parted ways with the band in 2008 to release his solo Tabeer and Fuzon faced the heat. It bounced back however with new addition Rameez Mukhtar and a new album Journey. It was inevitable then that music lovers dug into similarities between Tabeer and Journey!
Anita Iyer caught up with the band that’s currently working on a video to be released soon to celebrate their decade in music. Excerpts -
Fuzon is completing a decade in music. How has the journey been?
It’s been an incredible journey; obviously there were ups and downs and highs and lows, but we have always stuck to the task and believed in our ability. We have been quite fortunate to get several opportunities to travel and perform in various countries (India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, UAE, Norway, Italy, UK, and USA) and learn from different cultures and traditions. The diversity of people and places, has taught us a lot as individuals and as a unit, the journey has just begun. We recently released a video Saajana after almost three years to celebrate out decade in music.
Fuzon was loved by many for Shafqat Amanat Ali’s vocals but he quit after the first album Saagar. You believe Rameez Mukhtar has filled in the vacuum created by Shafqat’s exit?
Shafqat’s vocals are undoubtedly still loved by many. Initially, it was a little complicated to explain the break up to our fans and the entire music industry here. The band suffered and went through a very tough and complicated phase after that. But, we were determined and passionate about our cause; we wanted the band Fuzon to progress.
We had to wait for some time to revive the band with the inclusion of Rameez, but eventually things started developing, we started receiving calls for tours, performances, recordings and collaborations and the second album – Journey, started picking up. By that time, Neend Na Aaye, Soona Soona and a few other songs by Rameez were accepted and started gaining popularity. Rameez has not only done a great job singing the second album but his skill level allowed him to take on songs that we composed in our first album and he added his flavour to those songs while performing live. We have managed to do several extremely successful local and international performances in the last four years with Rameez. So, yes he has filled the vacuum!
Could you touch upon the changing music scene in Pakistan over the last decade?
The music scene under ex-President Musharraf’s era developed, flourished and gained a lot of momentum, there was enormous progress. There was a lot of support. But this started changing after he was removed from power.
The chaos and uncertainty caused by terrorism has crippled the economy hence the fragile state of the music business as well as other businesses. But we are a very resilient and daring nation, we still believe that there is going to be a change, there are still several positive signs, live performances are still happening, although not as much as they used to, but even in this turbulent environment, people are very passionate about the music scene.
Artistes from Pakistan talk about the lack of platforms for musicians. Do you believe there is a paucity of avenues for musicians?
Yes, the lack of opportunities to perform in Pakistan is evidently a result of the security situation. People are now scared to be a part of large public gatherings. The corporate sector is not willing to invest in building places for live performances, although it can give them a lot of mileage considering the demand for regular live performances and the amount of immense talent that exists in our country.
Do you believe the music industry has crippled owing to monopolistic practices by the record labels? Is the music industry encouraging for independent acts like Fuzon?
Yes, different organisations including PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority) and record labels, specifically Fire Records, which is a part of the most powerful TV channel Geo and Jung Group, have totally crippled the music industry. Fire Records started off by offering established as well as promising artists a substantial amount and obviously a dream contract with videos, publicity, tours, all the glitz and glamour. Unfortunately, in return they made them sign a contract in which they took away all their rights. The artists were not allowed to perform for other TV channels, radio shows or concerts organised by their competitors. They controlled the artists because they wanted to introduce the idea of royalties, which is a great idea. But it should have been done sensibly, we have to realise that the dynamics are quite different in Pakistan. So the majority of performers who signed with Fire Records were not able to do much, hence the lack of shows and performances.
Would we see Fuzon releasing an album soon as it has been three years since you released Journey?
We are working on something; hopefully by the end of this year we will be able to release an album.