Natasha Humera Ejaz a.k.a Tasha is a very talented musician to come out from Islamabad. She is currently studying in Malaysia and is in town on vacations. We at www.islamabadthecapital.com decided to interview this gifted artist at Kuch Khaas. The interview was a lot of fun. Here is the Interview.
Islamabadthecapital (ITC): So we will start off with a basic question, tell us some thing about yourself?
Natasha Humera Ejaz (Tasha): My name is Natasha Humera Ejaz and I have been writing music since I was 15. Now I am studying audio engineering from a school at K.L which is affiliated with Berkley. I am doing a certificate course. It’s more like a two year diploma. I love technology and I love the technological side of music. So I am really enjoying myself there because we have been working with all sorts of machines and gizmos.
CELEBRITY IN THE MAKING
ITC: We got to know from your social networking profile that you have been an Rj on City fm 89 for two years. How was that experience?
Tasha: Awesome! Actually before 89, I was working on this other station called 99. I had a comedy chat show there with Danish Ali (Danish Ali is a stand up comedian) and I think I was seventeen years old at that time. That’s how it started. I have this crazy love for comedy. We used to pick up news reports from all over the world and used to have our own spin on it. So I think one thing lead to another I got working in 89. First I was there as a marketing executive but than I started to do a show with them. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I miss it a lot. I love Rj’ng. You know it has a strange kind of power because its just words. They don’t see what you are doing and they don’t know what you are doing. I feel like a lot of people don’t understand or more like under estimate the power of radio. Back in the 60’s and 70’s radio was a source of revolution. It’s a beacon of information but it’s never really used to its capacity. But I love the radio. I love being on the radio. It’s fantastic.
ITC: When was the first time that you realized that you want to do music as a profession?
Tasha: I think my real moment came when a couple of years ago I was called into Coke Studio as a back up vocalist. I went there and it was like a dream come true. I was meeting all these big shot musicians and every one from the Pakistani music industry. After five days, they called me up and said there is good news and there is bad news. What do you want to hear? I said give me both. They said that the problem is you are not a backing vocalist. When we mix your voice with the other vocalist it doesn’t come out right. Umber Hayat told me that if your in this as a backing vocalist than you are choosing a different path for your self. So I was there for five days and I was fired. At that point Ali Hamza from Noorie was sweet enough to sit me down and say that you are not good enough and its not about your skill. You are a song writer and this is not you. We donot want to push you through this. So that was the time when I realized that okay! If Ali Hamza is saying than there is some thing. Before that I was under confident and I thought I was not a good song writer or a good singer. So I came back to Islamabad and quit my marketing job and started working on this new life.
ITC: Pakistan has a totally different image in KL. How is the response from the people there?
Tasha: It has a totally different image over there. At first when I told people that I am from Pakistan. They didn’t believe me because I was speaking in English. It was insulting enough as it is. I went up to a college professor and said, Gabriel I am faced with a conundrum and it is upsetting me and replies me that how some one from Pakistan knows how to use conundrum in a sentence. I am like how much faith do you have in my people. We are good educated people but the funniest stereotype is, “Oh your from Pakistan, you must be married and have 10 kids.” Then there are days when I make fun of myself. I mean it is the only way to go by. So if some one upsets me too much I tell them “ You know I am from Pakistan and I am wearing a suicide bomber vest. Trust me you do not want to mess with it and we do have a tendency of blowing ourselves.” I did play them the lights of Zeb and Hania, Noorie, Vital Signs and all the great stuff. They found it very hard to believe this stuff is from Pakistan. They totally have a different perception of our country.
ITC: You released a video, “Today is a Place”. Which has a really nice concept and some people that we know still find it hard to digest that it is done by a Pakistani artist? Share your thoughts on it.
Tasha: Today is a place is a song which I really wrote because being an actor, being a musician or comedian, you start living in this world of imagination and we do start wanting to see things that are not there and they make life so interesting. That song was basically about that. Usman Mukhtar who is the director of the video is very talented. He has these crazy concepts. He is a horror movie buff and he works on horror movies. So when I took the song to him, he initially wanted a gruesome dark video with gothic make up and what not. I was like dude seriously I am not gonna commit suicide at the end of the video. He was like Tasha its so cool. Imagine you singing the last line “show me the mirror again” into the mirror and your evil reflection as a creepy lady. I was like, dude happy song, happy thought. So we deliberated a lot about it and eventually we came to the conclusion that we should keep it as real as possible. We just went to Capital Park, shoot out ideas and literally did the choreography on the spot. We didn’t even know what locations we were too shoot at until we got there and looked around. It turned out brilliant. Usman I really was not expecting it the way it turned out. It was fun, it was great and it was magical.
ITC: Any new videos coming soon?
Tasha: not very soon. I was supposed to release something by February but one of my songs is not complete yet. I am here for a limited time and it won’t be possible for me to shoot a video. So it is bit of a tragedy that there will be a long gap between “Today is a place” and the next song. Even though I wanted to release some thing in January. I will keep on posting covers and stuff.
ITC: We really want to know about your brain child Insolent Knights.
Tasha: Ah! Insolent Knight!! My baby. Tulin Azim who’s a theater veteran in Islamabad. She studied theater from the States and she has done her majors in French and Theater. Her and I meet about four to five years ago and we instantly bonded and we are very good friends. You know its Ironic that we both are really small and we kind a look alike. So she is basically me in 10 years and it the joke all over town. So we wanted to do a monologue night as theater takes a lot of time and not every one has the time to do that. We did our first show a couple of years ago. We just put together a couple of monologues and it went really well. The reason why called it Insolent Knights because we try not to censor as much as possible because there is enough censorship on all the media. So we thought we should have something that should at least try to attempt to question society norms. So it was just an attempt at that and it just grew and grew and grew and now we have this huge family. Tulin and I are literally in tears when ever we are planning a show. Wijdan Khaliq, Osman K. Butt, Ammar Latif and Atif Siddique are our four core members and they have been there from the very first show and they have been in every show. The last three shows were not individual performances. They have been more of a collective input from every side and it’s been great. Insolent Knights I think is doing what it was meant to do.
ITC: You recently did a cover of Coldplay Fix you. What was the main idea behind covering Coldplay?
Tasha: Honestly! It was a friend of mine back in college. We both are huge Coldplay fans and Fix You is attached to a very beautiful relationship I had with a friend of mine. This friend of mine was to do a MIDI project and he decided to do Coldplay. It was a college thing but I really enjoyed doing it and he really enjoyed doing it. We decided to put it up online. The responses we received were great.
ITC: You have a huge following in Islamabad. How do you feel?
Tasha: I do? It sounds so surreal. I still find it unbelievable. Me having a fan following. Its feels great to know that people understand the kind of music I do.
ITC: Natasha Humera Ejaz, a song writer, a singer and a music producer. Which trait do you like more?
Tasha: As long as I write my own music, I prefer both. Music production is some thing that I really want to indulge in.
ITC: What are your future plans?
Tasha: As soon as I am done with my education. I want to come back to Pakistan and work here. I have this five year plan in my mind. The thing that we really lack here is education for performing arts. You know I am really lucky to go to KL and study music. For a girl from Pakistan, to go there and study, it’s a rarity. Now Fine arts have been recognized as a viable profession. Music, dance and theater are professions that are still not in lime light because there is no education from the get go. Abroad I have seen models of education that start teaching you what ever you like from the age of three. I started acting, dancing and singing when I was three years old. So when you have a talent that you recognize and your parents recognize it. Abroad you have the option of training at a really young age. So by the time you are out of high school, if you want to continue it you have an option of going to college and study music, dance or theater at that level. Now the tragedy about Pakistan is that we just keep on feeding that singer, actor and dancer in us and we don’t get proper training or platform to express that talent. NCA has started theater department and there are very slim chances for the people studying there to get a job due to the lack of infrastructure. Abroad if you are a musician, half of your time is spent in institutions teaching and that is one of the main sources of income. So if we do not have institutions like that in Pakistan, that talent goes to waste. So that is one thing that I really want to work on because I feel too much talent has gone to waste in Pakistan and its not fair. The second thing that I want to work on is infrastructure for publishing music as we do not have many record labels. We can’t have an Indie music scene because we don’t have independent music labels that are ready to publish that kind of music. The music labels that we have are more focused on the commercial and pop stuff which is great in a sense but we have an entire generation of musicians who feel that they do not fit in. there is this guy Asfandyar from Islamabad. He is making really good post rock music and he is posting it online. Post rock is some thing that is not that known even outside Pakistan but this guy is making it. His music can compete internationally. Then there are some under ground bands in Karachi who are makes some really good electronic music and we don’t get to hear them. If we put there work in the international market, the only difference is that they have a market for them because they have labels for them who market and publish them. We do listen to all that stuff and if we say that we are not going to listen to a Pakistani band making post rock music is very hypocritical of us. So I really feel like that the infrastructure for music needs to be developed in Pakistan academically and in the field of publishing. I actually don’t see my self as a recording artist. I love singing but I want to help out musicians get out of there shells because we are forced into it. You know so many musicians and actors are wasted as accountants, doctors and engineers. It is so sad and I want to change that.
ITC: Take Kuch Khaas as an example. What do have to say to there initiative?
Tasha: Kuch Khaas has taken a great initiative and sadly not many people know about it. They are remarkable at what they have done. It’s like some one took my brain child and put it on the face of F-6. They are doing great.
ITC: Your best performance till date in theater and music?
Tasha: In theater, by far I think the best character that I played in Osman Khalid Butt’s play the good doctor. I played this role of a low life woman who ate spiders, a very uncivilized kind of character and I loved doing that. Music! I think my first ever gig was my favorite. It was a gig when Zeb and Haniya were not Zeb and Hania. Shehryar Mufti, Zeb, Hania and I got together and we did this super acoustic awesome jam. It was my first ever gig and by far is my favorite.
ITC: Thank you very much Natasha for taking out time and bearing us. We wish you all the very best for your plans.
Tasha: My pleasure. It was lovely talking to you.