As they dropped the beat, we picked up our pens. As they blended meshes of audio files, we cranked up our car’s radio for the journey ahead. And as they gave us the go ahead for the interview, we saddled up and made our way to the humble living abode of SomeWhatSuper, consisting of Talha Dar and Feroz Faisal, Pakistan’s most popular EDM music group! The Lahore based music duet have been renowned for their instant impact on the EDM scene, sharing the stage with the likes of Ali Zafar, Atif Aslam and many of Pakistan’s leading artists.
Once the multilingual discussion began, there was a viscous flow from English to Urdu, with frequent Punjabi phrases, something which the duo attempted to imbue into their music as well by aiming to spread it across a national base. We kicked things off from the roots, where the two friends (or “chuddy buddies” as Talha Dar described it) had known each other since childhood and had a collective circle of friends till NCA, but their work took form on a professional level after graduation. Many would be keen to know that the name “SomeWhatSuper” actually stems from Feroz Faisal’s fondness of superheroes and the comic universe, which cultured into a “spontaneous” idea that they hold up till this very day.
The two featured in a multitude of bands in their youth, varying from genres such as heavy metal, trying their hands wherever they could, but the desire didn’t seem to surface until their latter years, and eventually their music became a mirror in how they matured in their own lives. Their musical inspirations ranged from Noori, Eminem, Linkin Park, EP, Nazia Hassan, Nusrat, and Skrillex among others. It was from the diversity in their flavor that one could infer the very same variety within music that they attempt to introduce.
Masters of instruments, yet they opted for EDM instead?
Interestingly, both members are capable of playing the guitar and the drums, so why do they use a computer? Well, they said that their inclination towards EDM arose from an affiliation with “computer music”, something with which they had bundles of experience of and, something which was introduced to them quite early on in their lives. EDM gave them the capability to injecting alternating and sinuous rhythms into their upbeat tunes, which when matched with the lighting and the overall atmosphere that they bring along with them, creates an incredibly uplifting and energetic mahol. Initially, they began their work with a small online software (that ran on an even smaller computer) known as “guitar pro”. They stressed on the importance of digital music in our daily lives, whether it be digital or on drums, the method of expression is the hands of the beholder. There’s no “thumb-rule” when it comes to music, and hence EDM is a mirror to the creative change that is emerging in Pakistani society.
The project is intended to “push Urdu EDM music back into the frame” with a focus on unique “signature sound” which is why they don’t do cover songs or remixes. They stressed on how they did not introduce it, but aimed to rejuvenate it with a new twist and an essence that resonates nationally.
Favourite song, importance of the audience & spreading nationwide
While they stated that the best collaboration that they have done so far is “no doubt, the Sibbi Song”, there is “no formula” to the music they make since their main goal is to pass a “positive vibe” through their songs and project it towards their audience. For this reason, they didn’t provide a specifically “favourite” song as they believe that they have achieved their intention with all the songs that they have released so far.
One incredibly important aspect of their music is how they are not only able to create a sense of unity among individuals at concerts, but especially how their music has united many upcoming musicians from all across Pakistan. This, they believe, contrasts them from other musicians as they do not subject the upcoming youth to the same old stringent restraints, but rather actively promote them on a national level. This can be seen from how they recruited Abid Brohi all the way from Sibbi for the Sibbi Song, Sami Amiri from Balochistan to participate in Sher-e-Balochistan. and many others in a similar light. From each of these individuals, there was a resonating essence of “true hard work” and when this effort is practically converted, then it “automatically creates waves of positivity”.
It was after frequent travels to the many districts of Pakistan, that they learned how their music could bring about positivity, and the audience plays a key role in this endeavor: “The response from the audience is what really matters, 50 members of a lively audience would be better than a bunch of 5000 uninterested ones”.
Weirdest encounter with a fan?
Although this may not come under the clinical definition of “weird”, the most notable experience was when the band were resting at GIKI before a concert, eating their lunch when a fan asked them for a selfie. They happily obliged, yet soon enough, they were then surrounded by a whole host of fans who mauled them, prompting an escape through the back door for their own safety. A more endearing experience with one of their fans was when an 8-year-old girl gave them a handmade letter after a concert, and they’ve kept that letter to this very day.
Whom do you admire the most?
While their admiration ranges from Atif Aslam to Rohail Hyatt the reasoning behind these choices are the uphill struggles that each person has faced. They have built themselves up from “ground zero”, and are now renowned worldwide. They don’t have any superpowers, and Talha and Feroz are only somewhat-super, in terms of the hard work that they put in.
“Snakes to har jaga hain bro. Aik snake ko maaro to doosra bara snake mil jata hai”
Delving deeper into the personal aspects of their lives, it’s “no secret that the celeb life comes with its struggles” and “snakes”, a word which they backed up with a series of “hissss sounds”. Yet what they emphasized on was that the presence of these snakes isn’t just limited to the media life, but extends to “every aspect of life”. An example which they gave was how, in the exuberance of youth, they would “spam links” on multiple platforms in order to get their names out there, but he felt that they received undue “personal attacks” for that, which consisted a “difficult period” in their life. Notwithstanding, in spite of all the snakes, in spite of all the bitter hatred, the failed projects and the leg-pulling, one prudent point was how they were able to casually shrug off this hate, stating that “it didn’t matter to us” and perceiving it as a source of motivation that would propel them forth in their ventures.
They acknowledge the fact that everyone has the right for professional criticism, yet this should not be carried over into one’s personal life, and one of the “biggest plus points” for them was that they did not let it get to their head, and even when it did, it was only there for a few moments before they managed to “move on”.
Their message to the youth who find themselves in such incidents is that the snake may not leave you, but it is up to the individual to remove themselves from the troublemakers. Let them think they’ve won or let them think whatever: it just doesn’t matter. In life, you can’t go and blame others for your problems because it is you who has to make something out of your life. Essentially, “uss laanat se door ho ja(o)” and let them propel their negativity elsewhere and keep yourself busy in order to guard from such sources of demotivation.
“What’s your biggest fear?”
It was through this question that we were offered an insight as to the true level of dedication which SomeWhatSuper imbue into their work. A fear of failure is what encircles them, but they believe that this can be extended to all human beings for it is something that one “cannot run from”, but what one must learn to control by learning to make oneself “mentally strong”. When one is able to bank on their capabilities, then they can establish a sense of confidence that is essential for mental growth and which can then ferment their growth as a human being. More specifically, they cited a “project crash” as their biggest fear, especially when one would wake up in the morning, keen to look at their newly polished work only to realise that their project had crashed. Prior to the release of the hit “Sibbi Song”, both members would make a living with their day jobs but once the song had become viral, the frequency of their work increased and it was only when they became famous that this fear truly surfaced. However, when they grew accustomed to the stage lights, they became so immersed that the fear subsided as their work transitioned from a hobbie to a profession.
“Academically mai kabhi sound student nahi tha”,
Referring to themselves as being nothing more than “normal” students, they too faced a number of personal struggles when growing up. They led their student life on lease, being wracked with financial difficulties and Talha described himself as being a “bohot bara gamer” (not the other kind of gamer), even going as far as representing the national Call of Duty D-Juice team in Karachi. At the same time, he barely mustered 608/1100 marks in his second year of college, and so had to plead his friend to ask his father for permission to go and play in the tournament.
“Mai bohot aik introvert banda houn”
Both were and, to an extent, still are introverts, having “total mai sirf 3 dost”, contrasting with their star status. Yet, what was important is that they stayed away from “negative people” and even regular people who give off “negative vibes”. By not associating themselves with such people, they’ve managed to blossom into the humans that they are today, letting their music speak where their “introvert(ed)” personalities may have not.
“Pakistan is the place to be”
A loss of direction: not knowing where to go, unaware of what awaits you; completely lost and absolutely aimless. This is where Pakistan’s leading EDM group began. Indeed, “audio career paths are odd”, not only because there wasn’t a visible scope for this profession at that time as well as the fact that there was an evident “scarcity of information” with respect to these types of career paths, which not only led to resentment among the masses, but also destablised the individuals when they were unable to decide what to do with their lives. So, what did they do? In order to escape the toxicity and the incessant negativity, Talha Dar “Australia bhaag ghaya tha” under the same cloak of pretension that many of Pakistan’s youth face today of leaving the country, but he returned only a few years later after realizing that “Pakistan is the place to be” and it is this very stereotypical perspective that they aim to change.
The Importance of the Household
Both members of the band are unequivocally grateful to their families for the support that they’ve offered them in the band’s times of hardship. “People will always criticize you, but it’s the family that always sticks with you through thick and thin” by providing consistent support and motivation. The impact of the household is something that is ever present in Pakistani society and although the bands’ respective families had a completely different take on their music, it was when they began to emerge on TV that these doubts began to subside. Initially, there was some criticism from the family, yet it was justified as in the folly of youth, one may not recognize an issue from their own perspective whereas now as grown adults, they can relate to what their families felt. Yet, what was ever-present in the beginning was a desire to prove to his elders wrong and go beyond mere musical performances to establishing a “legacy” for the upcoming generation.
What’s next for SWS?
“Pakistan ke sound ko agay le ke jain gai”
In addition to a couple of upcoming concerts in Islamabad and Nathiagali among other places, SWS have a vision for the long run. They aim to bring in Pakistan’s first ever “post production cinema house” and introduce an array of resources to the music industry all the way from audio engineers to educational schools all with the aim: “Pakistan ke sound ko agay le ke jain gai”.
Any message for the young readers out there?
“You can make samosas for a living, but those samosas should be so good that everyone from across the world would come to taste them”
In response to this, they stressed on the need for one to follow their “passion”, something that is embedded into the heart and soul of SomeWhatSuper, supporting their statement with a plethora of personalities such as Wasim Akram and Nusrat who they claimed had succeeded as a result of staying true to their hearts. They key is to identify your passion and then pursue it. In the words of Talha’s computer teacher, “You can make samosas for a living, but those samosas should be so good that everyone from across the world would come to taste them”, just like our local Grato Jalebi!
Moreover, it’s important to align yourself with the people who “value” you, your decisions in life and attempt to guide you towards being a better human being.
There’s no point in looking to the past. At times, the band woul look back realise that they made certain mistakes, but managed to equate it with the fact that there was no point in looking back: “agay ka sirf dekho” and let bygones be bygones.
Lastly, no “magic trick(s)” or shortcuts to success, it’s just hard work and determination. All humans make mistakes, but “as you take steps further, you get further away from the ground” and they allude to mistakes as just being a way of growing and one tends to hesitate in fear of making another similar mistake, but the important thing is once again to think ahead.
“Age is no limit” and they opposed the cultural view that one’s life has been planned out and it is up the youth to change the system, not just mindlessly oppose it without any constructive action.
Lastly, how was the interview?
Referring to their first interview in Karachi “jahaan pe phat gai thi”, they claimed to be “very very nervous” for this one “but really enjoyed it” nonetheless. It’s always nice to interact with fans, and the band valued our profession and what we were doing in conducting this interview and writing this article. We thank both Talha and Feroze for giving us their time, it was a very pleasurable experience!