Name: Danish Rahi
Location: NJ / USA
Education: Bachelors of Arts
Occupation: Designer / Singer / Producer
Interest(s): Visual and Performing Arts
Music Genre: Pop
Since how long have you been practicing music? When did you first pick up an instrument?
I have been practicing music since childhood. I remember waiting for my turn to play my sisters keyboard when I was five.
Did you acquire any formal training or was it all self experimentation?
I never took any courses in music, not much was available in those days in Pakistan for pop music. So it was mostly self-experimentation, and help from my senior musician friends and books.
If it was self experimentation, how has the self training been beneficial to you till date?
Performing arts is a ‘hands-on’ field. Theoretical knowledge helps a lot but when you are in the studio, recording a session it all comes down to your talent and skill. I believe that in order to create anything, one must experiment and I also believe that Self- experimentation is not an option but it is the only way to create pure music
Who has been your inspirations towards music? Any inspiring mentors?
I take conscious and unconscious inspirations all the time but I will mention, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Pink Floyd, BT, Yanni and few birds that come early in the morning at the bird feeder in my back yard.
You had also been playing music before leaving for America for studies. Tell us about the experience in music you had in Pakistan, What was the name of that band and the band members?
I am impressed by your research. Yes! Doing music in Pakistan was a lot of fun on personal level because of my friends but it was a struggle otherwise. There were very limited opportunities and resources available but I am glad that Pakistani music industry has come a long way since then.
After leaving Pakistan, you had shifted to America for further studies, did you continue with your interest in music in America? Or you wanted to finish your studies first and then get onto the music track?
I really had no choice because I didn’t had enough money to record my album at that time, I was doing two jobs to pay for collage but I kept working on the compositions and lyrics. Most of the songs were written during that period.
How did your journey of music began in America, who all did you meet and what did you learn from them?
I can sure pull a book out of that one but I’ll cut it short. After graduation when I got my job in New Jersey, my first goal was to start recording. It took me another year of trial and error, trying to understand the American music industry and in the process ended up recording at several different studios around New York and New Jersey area with various different musicians and producers. I was not satisfied until I met Ron and Bart, who amazed me with their style and skill level. We decided to do the first single. It was a challenge for everyone involved as they were discovering the Pakistani music for the first time and I was learning a lot of new things about pure western style. After combining the styles together the results were so amazing that we decided to do the entire album.
Soularis, and Frankensound Studios, is where you had worked on your debut album “Fiza – The Evolution” who else has helped you in the album and how?
One of the great things about this album is, that it involves talents from all over the world. I was lucky to work with sessions players and musicians from countries like Turkey, China, Spain, UK, Italy and many more. Its hard for me to mention every single name as there are so many people who helped me out but I have to mention Frank Certo my executive producer, Karen Eide my strategic advisor, Shauna Barry who provided female vocals, Rashan Richardson who provided Rap vocals and Alan Douches who provided engineering and many more people.
Your debut song “Chalo Mere Saath” was highly appreciated amongst the masses of Pakistan all over the globe, tell us about the song, when had you produce it, and when did you work on the video?
I picked up Chalo Mere Saath to go in as the first video even though it was my second video that I shot in America. We shot Chalo Mere Saath in Spring 2003. The camera crew was from New York City and our model Victoria was from Philadelphia. The directors Sara who is from Philadelphia and Mojo from Brooklyn New York helped me a lot in storyboard development, camera angles and effects. The video took about two months from start to finish. I do a lot of editing and motion graphics myself and I was involved with the entire process. The effects took the most amount of time, as they need to be rendered and it can take hours to render just few seconds depending on the amount of networked processors. Top of the line editing and compositing equipment was used and I learned a lot of new techniques during the process.
It seems that you have done quiet a lot of planning of getting yourself a proper launch, as seeing, couple of songs ready on your official site www.danishrahi.com, when are you planning to launch your debut album?
Well! It is important to understand that FIZA-The Evolution is now estimated to be one of the biggest projects ever to be undertaken by any Pakistani artist in US due to the nature of its production, budgeting and distribution. It is also the first Pakistani record to go on the Satellite Radio. Since it is a global launch it is hard to co ordinate things in several different countries at the same time. We are currently waiting on some final issues in the South Asian zones and will begin the launch shortly. It will be announced through the broadcast and print media.
Tell us about your debut album, “Fiza – The Evolution,” will the whole album, give the pop/trance sound or have you done any other experimental work in it as well?
I like breaking the regular rules of music and make my own and as a result create something new and original. Their is an enormous amount of experimental work present through out the album, but some songs like “Limited Existence” and “Farishta” reflect significant abstraction and are more on the alternative side. Even though it is a pop record but it involves a lot of rock and folk elements.
What about your new songs, what message are you trying to give via them?
There may be a million messages in each song as sometimes I write between lines. We took each song as an individual project with its own philosophy, meaning and environment but one basic message is that one must continue to follow his or her dream and should never give up.
The video of “Chalo Mere Saath,” had shown a lot of graphical work done on to it, which seemed to kill the life of the video that was presenting the song, what opinion do you have about it?
Well! I am professionally trained as a Graphic Designer after all so I use graphics as one of the instruments. Chalo Mere Saath is such a strong number that one can stretch it and can easily make a full length film out of it, but in a music video you have to compress everything in about three to four minutes. I think the intense motion graphics compliment the rhythm and beats pushing the song way above average.
Coming to the talks of Pop music, as you can see that the Pakistani music market, is now deviating and going more to the rock side, and giving minor light to the pop music, what expectations did you have from your launch in Pakistan?
FIZA-The Evolution is a combination of elements from several different genres including Rock that come together to form my own style and that even continues into the videos through the distinctive color treatment, graphics and editing style. To answer your question, I expect the album to do extremely well because its original and has so much to offer. FIZA-The Evolution is a post contemporary record and it is hard to compare it with anything as it is so far one of a kind record.
Living in America, what made you do Pakistani Music over there? Is there a good potential for such a music from the masses living over there?
FIZA-The Evolution fills up a huge gap that existed in the Pakistani pop music industry. I think there is a lot of potential for my music in US, Pakistan or any where else in the world where people like listening to world music or Urdu music.
Usually Pakistani musicians, go to America and work on English music, but you seem to live in America and work on a Urdu music, would like to tell us why?
I have several English numbers and I do plan to release them as a separate album but FIZA-The Evolution is mainly targeted towards the south Asian market and Pakistani communities living abroad therefore I kept it mainly in Urdu language but two songs have some English and two songs have some Punjabi and one song even has some French. It all just makes it more interesting and exciting.
Couple of musicians are trying to move away from the Pakistani music industry, how has your decision of making Pakistani music, helped you in deciding to approach, or make a come back in the Pakistani music industry?
I cant blame those musicians because some other countries do provide better opportunities for artists but I would say that it is our duty to help the Pakistani music industry to become stable enough so that it can provide opportunities that are competitive on the international level. I believe that my album plays a significant roll in doing so and we will need many more of such albums and worldwide releases that define our culture and take not only it self but the entire industry a step ahead in music.
You have recorded your debut album in Frankensound Studio, how has it been beneficial to you? How was the music equipment there? Was the sound quality up to your requirement?
Recording at Frankensound was an amazing experience. I had a tremendous amount of fun. It is one of the best studios in the state of New Jersey and has top of the line equipment. Every single sound, instrument or effect that I wanted was available and we created a lot of our own sounds through sampling, editing and filters. We never compromised on anything and took our time to complete each song. At times one song took months to complete but we never rushed anything. You will be able to see some of the footage in my upcoming Behind The Scenes program “FIZA-The Making” in which we take the viewers inside the recording studios.
Soulrais Records, will be releasing your album worldwide, would you like to tell us which countries would the record be releasing the album in?
The album is mainly targeted towards the South Asian market, it has a controlled distribution in North American zones, UK, Pakistan and several other countries in Asia and Middle East. It will also be available through major online stores for instant purchase from any where in the world.
When will your album Fiza – The Evolution, release in the local[Pakistan] markets?
I would say very soon. We will announce the launch dates shortly. We will make sure that anyone specially in Pakistan who goes to the local music store to buy this Album, finds it without any problem and if in case anyone does have problems they should inform us through my official website and we will assist them in any way we can and make sure that they are fully satisfied.
Do you plan to do anything before your launch? Future plans?
Well! Right now we are mainly concentrating on the videos. Each video takes a tremendous amount of work and we plan to do as many videos as possible and working on it non-stop.
Besides music, you have also acquired education certificates in Graphical designing as well, tell u about, was your alternative interest as well?
I hold an honors degree in computer graphics from Troy State University in Alabama along with several certifications in video editing and motion graphics from various places including Apple. The study process is simply never ending since the technology is always changing but I enjoy what I do so its worth it.
Lastly, we would like to Thank you for allowing us to Interview you, would you like to share few words with our viewers