Singer Asim Azhar brings new single 'Habibi' to Dubai

A chat with the Pakistani singer-songwriter who was in the city to promote his new track.

By Sadiq Saleem

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Photo: KT/Rahul Gajjar
Photo: KT/Rahul Gajjar

Published: Sat 30 Jul 2022, 4:16 PM

Last updated: Sat 30 Jul 2022, 6:12 PM

“I firmly believe that an overgrown ego is something one should closely watch out for. When you are adored by millions and have a sizeable fan following, there are chances that success can hit your head and you can lose control of your life, your relationships, and everything you’ve worked so hard for.”

This is a confession by an artist who tasted massive success at the age of sixteen, who is loved tremendously across the world, whose songs become anthems in no time and who is being signed by brands left, right and center.

Asim Azhar in a short span of time has become the go-to-voice for music producers, filmmakers and brand managers alike. But when you speak to him, he comes across as a boy next door who is definitely grateful for all that he has achieved; but, he is also mindful that the dream run may end in no time if he takes it all for granted. He says, “In today’s time, you are as good as your last project, so I don’t take my fame for granted. I have no time for distractions.”

What keeps Asim sane

But for me, it was important to know how a well-recognized artist, with followings in millions, keeps his sanity in check. As someone who is used to noise, applause and cheering round the clock, does silence scare him? Almost instantly Asim responds, “Absolutely not. In fact, I ensure that I keep an hour for myself during the day where I am doing nothing and just spending time in silence, away from the shor-sharaba. It keeps me sane. That is my time to connect with myself, my thoughts and that has become the anchor of how my day goes.”

His new single 'Habibi' which he was in Dubai to promote, has broken records already and has topped the charts. Currently ruling the platforms like TikTok and YouTube in Pakistan, Asim’s new song has struck the right chord in India as well. Singer and rapper Badshah took out time and slid into Asim’s DMs, praising the song. He wrote, “Tripping on Habibi! What a song you have made bro, the melody is great.”

As per Asim, the song is about “how ego should not get in between two people who are in love”. He explained that “there is no harm in apologizing first as it only makes you a better human. And there are always going to be differences and arguments but it's okay to say sorry first”.

Taking a cue from this, I asked him something that I ask every rockstar I meet. Does an artist, especially a singer need to experience heartbreak to be a better singer or performer?

“I don’t think that is a prerequisite to a good poetry or a melody,” he claimed. I have sung the best of breakup anthems like 'Tera Woh Pyar' and 'Tarasti hai nigahein' in my happiest of times. I would say not only a romantic relationship but being in any kind of relationship helps you to be a better artist. My observations and imaginations have helped me deliver such songs with much ease. I don’t necessarily have to experience the heartbreak first-hand to make it impactful.”

Protecting intellectual property

In light of the recent controversy about Pakistani singer-songwriter Abrar-ul-Haq’s song 'Nach Punjaban' being used in the Bollywood film 'JugJugg Jeeyo', we asked Asim what measures is he taking to ensure that his work remains his own intellectual property.

He explains, “For any artist, the benchmark of success is that his work crosses borders and touches hearts of millions around the world and only good music has the power to do that. Having said that, the music or the song is also a product which you are putting out for the public to consume and make it their own, and that obviously has certain risks attached. An artist today, must be aware of the legal aspects and must safeguard his work through contracts and copyrights. I have a team that ensures that my songs are licensed to avoid any potential misuse. I would also take this opportunity to urge all artists to have a legal advisor on board who will ensure that your content is legally secure and remains your property despite being on the public platforms.”

Asim is not only a singer but a composer and a songwriter too. So does he also face writer’s block? Asim reminisced about pandemic times when suddenly the whole world came to a halt. "I was just not getting the right energy to write or compose. There was no music scene happening and there were no engagements as such. That really made me realize that for me to flourish as a better son or a partner or a friend, I really needed to create something, but the circumstances were such that it was not happening.

“I kept my faith intact and I knew it was a phase and it will pass. That day I told myself that I will never write or try to compose under pressure. Now I let it flow naturally and when it comes, I get goosebumps. I can’t explain the sudden rush that my body feels when an idea clicks and I capture it. I then cap my pen right there, knowing this is it. This will be my song. And 'Habibi' is the product of this process.”

A classic playlist

In the end, we asked him to give us a glimpse of what his playlist looks like. It was indeed surprising to see him idolizing icons from bygone eras. Asim shared, “I have grown up listening to quality music. Be it Mehdi Hassan or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or pop icons like Nazia and Zoheb Hassan. I don’t have a particular go to list because my playlist is a mixed plate and it doesn’t stick to any genre. But I am a huge fan of Mohammed Rafi and Noor Jehan. I think they were institutions and the treasure that they have left behind will keep them immortal.”

Sadiq Saleem is a UAE-based writer and can be contact on his Instagram @sadiqidas

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