The youngest of the Jaswal trio, Uzair Jaswal is a name that’s closely associated with the current generation as his music evokes the imagery of youth and sonic peppiness. He was once the youngest musician to feature on Coke Studio (just before Asim Azhar swiped the title in Season 8) and his hit single, ‘Tere Bin’ was picked up for the Sunny Leone starrer Bollywood film, Ek Paheli Leela.
By starring in Pakistan’s first ever online film, Oye Kuch Kar Guzar (which followed the journey of four youngsters such as Uzair alongside Ali Safina, Ushna Shah and Mah Jabeen) and releasing his debut album, Na Bhulana (to a sold-out concert-launch in Islamabad), Jaswal concluded the past year on a high note.
“To me, an album is the most cherished part of a musician’s career,” maintained Jaswal as we sat down for an interview. Having decided to meet up at a local cafe on a late breezy afternoon after much trail, Jaswal spoke passionately about music and his latest offering in that department.
“Growing up, I used to follow and look up to all these musicians who had their very own albums,” he said. “It used to be very exciting waiting for Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar and Noori’s music. I just feel a musician’s journey is incomplete without an album.”
“Initially I kept waiting for brands to help me out and I did get lots of offers verbally, but I realized that no one really wants to invest in music,” said Jaswal, explaining his journey in an era where piracy and digital media has completely abolished the album culture. “I knew this was the right time. And I know after a few years when I look back, I’ll be proud of it. I want my fans to know that I’m very serious about music and I don’t take it as a joke.”
Despite having several hits on Patari (Pakistan’s largest and most prestigious music streaming platform, where the album was officially released) within a short period of time, Jaswal is not restricting the release to a digital platform alone; Na Bhulana’s physical CDs will be home-delivered to his fans in the five respective cities where New Yorker Pizza operates.
“I don’t expect to make money from this album. Whatever I’ll earn will mostly be from Patari, since they have their own revenue generating system based on how many times a track is streamed. But that doesn’t really matter. The album is out there and I did it because I want my music to be heard. That’s the only goal,” he clarified, revealing that his main drive has never been monetary.
Reflecting on how cinema has the power to lift music, Jaswal noted: “We saw hope when films were being made. With OSTs, the music industry would’ve flourished, however, cinema now looks really shaky again.”
Expanding on what he thinks is the way forward for the music fraternity, Jaswal told Instep: “Internationally, if radio plays your song, if somebody covers your song, heck if somebody is singing your song while taking a shower, you get a certain royalty. That doesn’t happen here. Thank God that YouTube has finally started monetization in Pakistan. So that’s one way for musicians to make money.
On the other hand, I think concerts are happening in a large number. Probably not on a big scale, but at schools and colleges, there are enough shows for everyone. And I’m mostly on tour, so that’s where I earn the most. At the end of the day if you’re talented and if you’re active with your music, fans will want you to be there.”
Calling the album a “compilation of my journey for over a decade”, the singer-songwriter explained that the tracks in the album deal with heartbreak while the inspiration is drawn from personal experiences. “Every song in the album has been written at different stages of my life – teenage, school and then college. I believe you always fall in love once, but once you’re heartbroken, with time you not only learn to get over it but you live and love better the next time,” he observed.
While Uzair has also explored acting, he insists that he has been a part of several Islamabad-based theatre plays and that explains his interest in this field. Uzair’s first film is the unreleased Aisha Linnea-Shahbaz Shigri directorial, Gol Chakkar. But his cinematic debut came with older brother Yasir Jaswal’s Jalaibee, in which he essayed a supporting role.
2016 was also the year when Uzair’s television career kickstarted with the drama serial Moray Saiyaan, which is currently on air. He had also signed Aabis Raza’s untitled film, produced by Crew Motion Pictures as the male lead but is no longer associated with. “Our dates continuously clashed,” he explained. “They kept delaying the shoot and since I’ve been working extensively lately; I’ve taken up acting and I had to release my album, so we had a few differences related to the schedule. But I believe they’re shooting now and I wish them all the best with whatever they’re doing.”
His music videos, that some believe showcase aesthetic brilliance, often come attached with “risk” but that hasn’t stopped Jaswal from releasing music videos for singles like ‘Bolay’ and ‘Sajna’. And he has started the New Year by releasing the video of his album’s title track, the soulful ‘Na Bhulana’.
2017 will be another monumental year for Jaswal, both musically and otherwise. Planning to release music videos for the other seven tracks on his album, Jaswal gears up to start shooting for his second drama serial (by the end of this month). It looks like he is here to stay as an actor and as a musician, lending more excitement to the entertainment industry as it continues to evolve.