His 17th album offers Sufi songs, ballads and collaborations with Aamir Zaki and Faraz Anwar
Throughout history numerous torchbearers have taken upon the challenge of performing Jugni to the audience of their time and era. But none have enjoyed the level of cult-following that Saleem Javed attracted. After close to three-and-a-half decades of endless performances and music releases, the singer has decided to call time on his music career.
A moment that almost every fan of the 80s and 90s era of Pakistan music may have dreaded seems to have finally arrived — with the singer’s seventeenth and penultimate album, Suno, shaping up to be his swansong as far as his album discography is concerned.
With album releases in Pakistan on the verge of extinction, the Jugni-fame singer elaborated how the idea of releasing a musical record to no or limited fanfare was just not lucrative enough to continue.
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“The trend of releasing albums has almost finished and now, people only release singles and music videos. I am hopeful that this trend will reverse in the future but audiences nowadays only respond to songs which have music videos and major sponsors — something which is not possible for all the tracks,” Javed tells The Express Tribune.
With a gap of almost eight years in between his sixteenth (Dosti) and seventeenth (Suno) studio album release, the singer describes his latest album as his magnum opus, which he hopes would help him sign out on a perennial high.
“There was always this thought in the back of my mind that if I ever wind up my album career then it has to be on a memorable note. And I may never make an album as great as Suno.”
His latest work is an amalgamation of the style of music that he has been known for and some experimental compositions. “I am confident that people will remember the music of Suno for years to come. It is the most profound music that I’ve ever made”.
Even after finalising all the details for the album’s release, the singer is still spoilt for choice, telling how the decision to select 12 songs from the 15 tracks that he had initially recorded is giving him headaches.“We’re in a fix as we are unable to decide which three songs to remove.”
Suno includes a diverse range of musical styles from sufi kalams to never-heard-before unplugged versions, as well as the usual remixes. Notable Pakistani musicians like Faraz Anwar and Aamir Zaki have featured in his new album along with musicians from Mexico.
Unlike his contemporaries, who got their initial break through television, Javed terms himself a product of the stage. “My audio albums and stage performances are my true identity, not TV appearances. I remember people used to wait in line to buy my albums in wholesale markets. But people don’t want to purchase music anymore.”
Having witnessed the decline of the local music industry throughout the years, Javed urges audiences to revive Pakistani music. “Audiences should help local music stay alive like they did in the past. Otherwise music would gradually finish in Pakistan and the only alternative would be to listen to Indian music.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2015.
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