Starting his musical career with Vital Signs in the late 80s, Salman Ahmed of Junoon is one of those rare celebrities in Pakistan who possess a dynamic personality with a vision for social reform. He served as the UN Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS for creating awareness about HIV in South Asia. His efforts as Polio Goodwill Ambassador for Pakistan has come close to creating history as the polio cases has dropped from three figures down to single. He is a strong advocate of peace and harmony between nations and cultures. His musical genius brought to the world some of the best music ranging from neoclassic to sufi rock. Junoon’s UK 2019 comeback tour will be staged in London and Leeds on 25th and 26th August respectively.
Ali Naqvi talks to the living legend Salman Ahmed about the recent Junoon reunion and his views on music.
Ali Naqvi: Music fans all over the world are waiting to see Junoon back in action, what is the latest on that?
Salman Ahmed: After sold out concerts in Karachi & Dubai, PSL opening & closing ceremony, Junoon is ready to shoot a brand new video for a new song that will be released in a few weeks.
AN: How Junoon of today is going to be different from Junoon of the past?
SA: Junoon is evolving all the time, I always try to learn and study new musical genres. I also try to dig deep down to explore our rich classical music. So, there will be a lot of difference, and I hope Junoon fans will like it.
AN: Who is responsible for bringing Junoon back to life, you, Brian O’Connell or Ali Azmat?
SA: I believe individual plans and efforts don’t work unless there is a divine consent. I would say God willed it and here we are united once again.
AN: What is your favorite Junoon song and why?
SA: Parvaaz was one of the best albums that we produced. All the songs on that album were hits. Songs like Bullah Ki Jaana Mein Kaun, Mitti Mein Mil Jayengey, Ghoom, Aleph, Sanwal and Pyar Bina are my personal favorites. The lyrics, the melodies and the feel of the songs bring a new sensation and understanding every time I listen to this album. The album is going to have its 20th anniversary this year.
AN: Pakistan film industry is gradually reviving; how is it going to impact the music industry?
SA: The 60’s was the golden period for Pakistani films and music industry. There were legends in every field of art and entertainment. Today things are different. We have to encourage our filmmakers and composers to come up with themes which shape a vibrant Pakistani culture based on both modernity and tradition. If the cinema thrives the music industry will also grow along with it.
AN: Are you interested in composing music for Pakistani films?
SA: I have composed sound tracks for HBO, BBC, Bollywood & Hollywood films and would be happy to compose for Pakistani films.
AN: You are one of the best guitarists that Pakistan has produced, did you ever thought of composing an instrumental album?
SA: Music is an ocean of infinite knowledge. I’ve always wanted to be a multi-faceted individual. I like both instrumental and vocal music. I also learn from writers, singers, composers, producers and multi-instrumentalists. Instrumental album is not part of the plan yet, but maybe in future I might compose one if God willed.
AN: In your opinion, what are the 3 major reasons for the decline of pop and rock music in Pakistan?
SA: Lack of organization, resources and copyright protection. I’m happy to announce that we have come together as artists to launch UMAP. The organization will be operational in the near future.
AN: You and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan have decided to establish a trust for artist welfare, tell us more about it?
SA: I loved working with Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan at the start of my career and I also look forward to continue working with Rahat. My wife Dr. Samina and I have a charity organization by the name of Salman and Samina Global Wellness Initiative (SSGWI) which helps the needy. It primarily operates in the healthcare sector of Pakistan.