Yawar Abdal : My motive is to make young generation of Kashmir listen to Kashmiri music

Yawar Abdal

Yawar Abdal is a young musician from Srinagar, Kashmir. Since his first song Tamanna came out in 2017, his fame has only grown in Kashmir. In a candid chat with Rising Kashmir Yawar Abdal discusses his childhood, his early fascination for music, his aims as a Kashmiri musician and his upcoming projects.

Source : Rising Kashmir

Misbah Bhat
Q: What was your childhood like and how did your musical journey begin?
A: My childhood was spent in Srinagar city. The childhood was spent playing cricket and goofing around with neighborhood friends, with whom friendship has endured to this day. My school was only 2 km away from my home and I used to walk up there and back. I was a sober kid, no naughtiness, I had an introverted personality. I studied here till 10th standard and then I went to Pune for further studies. All this time the interest in music was there and I was continuously writing music during this stage of my life. Then during my BCA days in college, I performed a couple of times at some farewell parties and all. After my graduation was done, I had to take up a job because the financial state of the family was not good. So, I started working in an IT company in 2015. This went on for 2 years. During this time, I learned many things, I became bolder, I learned professionalism, understood the value of money. Then I decided that I should do that work which will help me to survive and pique my interest; something that I would love and enjoy doing. That is when I decided to pursue music. My grandfather both maternal and paternal were fond of writing and were highly influenced by Sufi literature. I have heard a lot about them from my father as unfortunately I was not born during that phase of their life when they were interested in art. They played musical instruments, but they never did it professionally. They used AABAD as their pen name, which is why I use this term a lot in my works as well. It is my tribute/homage to them.
While living in Pune I came to know about the music of the band ALIF, I started following them especially Mohammad Muneem, a Kashmiri who was also living in Pune at that time. I met Muneem at his academy in Pune and before meeting him I had already shared my composition MERA PYAR with him. 

From then on, we developed a friendship and he advised me a lot on music. I learned a lot from him. I also got to meet many artists at this academy through whom I came to know about various gigs happening in Pune in cafes and restaurants etc. At first, I was doing one gig per week for Rs 500, then for Rs 1,500, then Rs 3,000. So slowly I built a name for myself in Pune. I started getting invitations from many cafes. Then I met another Kashmiri artist there Rayees Khan, and we started performing together. I was getting so much work that it was becoming difficult to balance music and my corporate job. At times I used to sleep for only 2 hours, after enduring large exertions I quit my job much to my family's frustration. I started earning good money from the gigs. I was earning Rs 12,000 monthly at my job, I started earning that much money just from a single show. I started saving money and then I invested that money in my recordings, which led to the release of my first single TAMANNAH ; said Yawar Abdal

Q: The response to your first single TAMANNAH has been overwhelming, how does that make you feel? And tell us more about that song.

A: The most important effect of this overwhelming response to my single was its effect on my family; they got a sense of security that our kid is really onto something here. Also, the biggest moments of happiness are when fellow artists listened to my song and loved it and were impressed by it. It also cemented my belief that this is what I want to do, and this is what I will continue to do.


Q: What are your musical influences and who did you grow up listening to?

A: I have listened to Kashmiri music a lot, especially CHAKIR, and local Kashmiri artists and singers. Outside of Kashmiri music, I listened to Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sahab, Jagjit Singh ji, the rock bands of Pakistan like Junoon, Jal. Listening to Indian bands like Agnee, Bollywood music too has influenced me a lot. In western music presently I am listening to Poets of the Fall. Then later when I fully entered the music scene, I started listening to Katatonia (metal band). All these influences are inside me and have influenced my music.


Q: Have you received any musical training?

A: I have not taken any training for singing, but I have received training for guitar playing in my 12th class. I had come home after my 11th class exams, and when I left for Pune after vacations, I had Rs 3,000 which I had got from my relatives. I had only one thing in my mind; to pay for my guitar lessons with this money and that is what I did. 

Right now, I am researching things like how to duet, how to improve voice quality, how to widen the range etc.

 To know more about Yawar Abdal , click here

Q: Tell us something about your first live performance.

A: My first live performance was during my college days. In Kashmir, my first live performance was in Nigeen Club in the fall of 2017. The response was great, this club is near to my home and my neighbors; people of my father’s age were there enjoying my performance and honestly, that is the greatest feeling in the universe.


Q: Do you pen the lyrics to your songs too? If yes, doesn’t it mean trying to be “Jack of all trades”?

A: Yes, I do. It is not like being “Jack of all trades”, if you have that skill set you can do it. Like I do not record instruments for my songs, I play the guitar, but I have never recorded guitar for my songs because I am not that perfect at it.


Q: Any plans of opening a music academy in Kashmir?

A: I would love to. There are already music academies in Kashmir where people are learning. People come to me saying they want to learn guitar and all. For an academy to be set up it will take a lot of planning and investment; to get the best teachers to teach and so on. There is a plan in my head but in the long run for sure.


Q: Do you think the current status of the local music scene is progressive in Kashmir?

A: Indeed, it is, people are telling me that since your (Yawar Abdal's) song Tamannah we have started listening to Kashmiri music, which was my motive. To make the young generation of Kashmir listen to Kashmiri music. Fast forward to today and people are listening to Kashmiri music again. All this gave impetus to other Kashmiri artists to make music. The platform has been created. 


Q: What hurdles are you facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic?

A: I am not able to do shows, I am not able to go to recordings. But hopefully, it will end soon and get back to work again. I long for the stage and praying for all this to pass.


Q: Tell us something about your upcoming projects.

A: The big project right now is my first album ABAAD, I have been working on it for the past 10 years. It has 8 tracks in it. I am trying to spread the message of peace and harmony, and I am trying to inspire people towards kindness. There are songs on social causes, there is one song about acid attacks “Abhi mujh mein jaan baaki hai”. There is a song on bad politics, “Siyasat”. It will be released on 12th June this year. I am trying to make people explore themselves.


Q: Any message to the budding singers and youth of Kashmir?

A: My (Yayar Abdal 's )message to budding singers of Kashmir is to learn, learn as much as you can; get out and meet other artists collaborate with them, see how they work. Expose yourself to the market to learn new techniques and new technologies. 

And most importantly I would request the people to stay home and follow all the necessary precautions. This is the only way to contain the virus and save others. 
Covid-19 is extremely contagious and should not be taken lightly. We are in this together and we should be careful for the sake of ourselves and our loved ones

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