Shiraz Uppal is a young, talented singer/songwriter and music producer. He has a mellifluous voice and has to his credit successful albums. His songs are full of sweet melodies and soothing tunes that calm the listener and create a feeling of joy and happiness. He has sung many successful songs for Bollywood films and soundtracks of Pakistani plays. He has a mesmerising effect in his music and songs. In March 2012, he stunned his fans by announcing that he has decided to say goodbye to music industry. It was a big blow to Pakistani music industry and great shock for music lovers that after the exit of many other stars like Junaid Jamshed and Ali Haider, another talented artiste would no longer be making music. He quit music to embark on a spiritual journey to find the inner peace. After a year of soul-searching, Shiraz Uppal decided to comeback to music which created a wave of happiness. In an exclusive interview with Sunday Plus he talked about the music scenario Pakistan and his come back to the industry.

Music was your passion. Then we heard that you have quit the music industry and settled in USA. Now you are back after a little more than one year. What were your reasons for quitting and what inspired you to come back?

Music was my only passion and will remain so InshaAllah in this life. I was going through a phase of my life where, in spite of having every blessing from my creator (Alhamdulillah), I was not getting internal Peace. I needed a break from my routine to find the truth and to find inner peace. So it became the first priority of my life at that time. I decided to take a break from music and went to US where I was living with my family for almost a year. I wanted to go to a place where I am away from my social circle, media, music, fame and my fans so that I could be able to uncover the truth about my inner self/my soul. I was not nourishing my soul whereas I was keeping my body happy. I found out that inner peace only comes through getting well connected with your creator. There is no other way to get that. Allah has sent every soul in this world for a purpose and it is for us to discover what that is. Everyone connects with Him in different ways besides worshipping Him (which is a must). So I found my way and came back with a more focused mind.

What sort of response did you get from your fans in this period?

I got mixed responses from my fans. Some were happy for my decision and some were against it. But as it is my life so I have to chose what I want to do. While in US I was not in touch with any of my friends from the music industry except AR Rahman. I was on to a spiritual journey so I did not want to be defocused.

How do you see SU Studios which you liquidated before going to USA? Have you re-established it? What new additions have been made?

Alhamdulillah I have re-established S.U. Studios. All the equipment has been upgraded to the next level and I am enjoying music production/singing along with inner peace.

You are very close to AR Rahman. Are you planning any new collaboration with him or any other international artiste?

Before coming back to Pakistan, I was contacted by A.R Rahman and he wanted me to sing two Qawalis (Kun Fa Ya Kun & Khuwaja Mere Khuwaja) in One World Peace Concert in Syracuse, NY where other big names like Dave Mathews, Nelli Fertado, Natasha Beddingfield, Cyndi Lauper, Phillip Phillps and Whoopie Goldberg were performing as well. I was so happy to perform there as it was for Peace and I was representing my county being the Peace Ambassador. And as far as the future projects are concerned, Allah knows the best.

Which aspect of music – singing, composing – you like most? In your view what are the prerequisites for a good composer?

I like composing and music production more than singing because it involves the process of creativity and improvisations which a lay man can not feel. I believe that I don't make the melodies; it comes from above, so it is magical and spiritual. There are no prerequisites for being a good composer. It is just a matter of being blessed with something. If He has chosen you for this job then only He tells you what to do and how to do.

Lately we have seen very bad but still catchy compositions that are being produced these days by bands as well as individual singers and music directors? Please keep in mind that the Bollywood too is churning out songs that have ridiculous lyrics and the music is too loud and lousy. The same is happening in our pop music?

As far as the talent is concerned. I can surely say that Pakistan is blessed with people with numerous talents. They just need support and true guidance and they can conquer the world. As far as music is concerned, it is totally up to the music channels and other medium what they want to promote. It is their obligation to educate the listener as well. But the day they start playing only Pakistani music and decent music, most of the listeners will switch to some other channels. So the problem lies with the listeners too. It is a matter of owning your own artists which I never saw here.

Real instruments are now rarely used for making music tracks. Computer generated music is ruling the roost. What is your take on the situation? Are we not losing the real melody and harmony that our music once had?

You have to go with the flow; softwares have made it easier as the technology has progressed. But as far as my songs are concerned I try my level best to use live instruments as much as I can. Rather the album I'm working on is based mostly on live instruments.

Pop music was Pakistan’s forte. In the last few years none of our singers’ albums could click? Some singers have their albums ready but are not releasing them? What in your view could be the reason?

Artistes are reluctant in releasing the albums because hardly people buy the album. Life is too fast these days and people do not have the tie to listen to the whole album. They just download the songs that become popular and the rest of the track in the album that are not accompanied by a video just go wasted. So it is better to release just the singles. As I said earlier "Just go with the flow”.

Internet has changed the situation in the music industry as all songs can be easily downloaded for free. The artistes end up getting nothing. The sale of CD and cassettes has gone down. How do you see the situation?

It is a bad situation. But it is the responsibility of the record label to take care of piracy and matters like this. If an artiste wants the song not to be downloaded or played royalty free then the answer is simple "Don't release it".

Is there any new project that you are working on? Please give details.

Yes. I started working again since January 2013 and I am doing a couple of international projects. Recently produced and sung a duet with Harshdeep Kaur who sang "Katya Karoon" for the movie Rockstar and "Heer" for Jab Tak Hai Jaan. It really came out nice Alhamdulillah.

What is the message for the young generation?

Be positive in your thoughts and get rid of all the negativity within, no matter what the circumstances are. It is only you who can bring a change within your life and your surroundings.

Favo-metre

Your favourite song… Kun Fa Ya Kun (qawali)

Your secret desire… It should remain between me and God. Otherwise it won't be secret anymore.

You are addicted to… Dunhill Lights

One personal weakness that you would want to get rid of… Impatience

Dream vacation spot… Any resort by a beautiful beach

What time do you wakeup? I wake up twice a day, 6am and then 2pm

Most beautiful child memory… Every moment spent with my (Late) father

Favourite gadget… iPhone

Favourite perfume… Fierce by Abercrombie &Fitch

Last indulgent purchase… Honda Pilot

Necessary extravagance… Eating out every night

What makes you impatient? Anything against my will

The best thing of being a Pakistani Freedom and culture