15th July 1976, just another day of history, a child was born, there was nothing special about both of them, the date or the child. But when the child was in class 6th, he watched Yngwie Malmsteen in a video playing a six-strings instrument. It inspired him so much that he immediately decided to learn this instrument to let out his expressions & explore his inborn talents. The child was Faraz Anwar. And now people know the significance of both, the date & the child.
Faraz, a name known & admired internationally but unluckily the people in his hometown don’t know his worth. Faraz studied in St. Paul & St. Andrews & did his matriculation. After that he left studies because he knew what he was supposed to do & what he wanted! Yeah, it wasn’t an easy decision on his part. And like all the other parents in Pakistan, his parents too wanted him to study. They scolded him for choosing the path of music that is not considered a worthy one in our country. But it was impossible for him to negate music, which was nothing but him. He wanted the artist in him to come out & prove his mettle.
Why he chose guitar? He says,” It was just by chance. If I had got some other instrument, I would have started playing that”. But the stars knew how to give birth to such a great artist. He saw Yngwie & started playing guitar. The first guitar he got was Ibanez. He learned the basics from Adnan Afaq. And then he owes it to the guitar lesson videos of Paul Gilbert, which helped him a lot.
He started playing guitar in 1990. Although these are mere 12 years since he has been playing, but the caliber he has is really unmatchable. He played Malmsteen in the beginning, who is considered the most technically accomplished hard rock guitarist. He likes Allan Holdsworth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Steve Morse and Steve Vai.
During his 21 years in music, the guitarist has already worked with Ali Haider, Dr. Nadeem Kazmi, Fakhr-e-Alam, Junaid Jamshed, Sajjad Ali and Nadeem Jaffri to name a few. Faraz has also been an integral part of lesser known bands Power House, Live Sketches and Collage. His first international gig was with Sajjad Ali for his album Bebia. His first composition Akela, roared across the screen and speakers at the famous music charts MCC 1 way back in 1993.
The album that brought him international acclaim was his solo instrumental album “Abstract Point Of View”. It was released by Gnarly Geezer Records internationally. According to Faraz, “It’s nothing but me. This album is a part of me. Sometimes it’s aggressive and at times it’s romantic”. And the thing that gave him utmost satisfaction was the fact that Allan Holdsworth appreciated him. He is a self-proclaimed disciple of Allan. Getting the appreciation of someone, whom you consider as your inspirational teacher is something. This album got him a place among Gnarly Geezer Artists. These are all Jazz-Fusion artists. Jazz is considered to be the most difficult genre of music. This is a solo album in the real sense of the word. He wrote all the music & sequenced all the tracks himself. It was recorded in DFS in just four months. He hasn’t played this album live yet. When asked why, his answer was “There are no artists who can play live, the sequenced bass and drums on the album”. Allan especially appreciated the drum sequencing.
In 1996 he sent his instrumental demo tapes to Berkley College of Music Boston. They sent him scholarship to come and study music. But due to some problems, he could not go there. But as an acknowledgment, they presented him with “Outstanding Musical Achievement Award ’96″. It was quite an achievement for the young and aspiring guitarist.
His past projects include a black/death metal band “Dusk” & a progressive metal band “Mizraab”. Dusk consists of Faraz and Babar Sheikh (ace video director). Faraz conceives the basic concepts and Babar gives words to them according to his own perception. Faraz composes, synthesizes and plays guitar, and Babar adds the right feel by his husky vocals. The first album by Dusk was “My Infinite Nature Alone”, which was released by a Portuguese label in ’96. Right now they are working on their second album called “Off White”, which is lined up to be released this year. It is set to be released by an international label.
The present project is called “Mizraab”. It is a post-grunge, progressive metal band. It’s a brainchild of Faraz. The band consists of Faraz (concepts, compositions, guitars), Faraz Arshad (bass), Jamie (rhythm guitars) and Irfan Ahmed (drums). Adnan pens the lyrics. Their album is called “Mazi, Haal Mustaqbil”. It’s all about human feelings & human psychology. The video’s of “Insaan” , “Meri Terhan” , “Izhar” and “Kitni Saadian” are on air on Indus Music. Insaan was the video during which Faraz lost his long time companion Jackson (his guitar). It burnt during the video shoot. The video is directed by Babar.
He gets his inspirations from ordinary objects & everyday life. He says, “It could be anything that might cross my mind anytime, be it during walking or doing nothing special”. In the beginning he used to practice for 8 to 9 hours daily. But after his soul got connected to his six-string through his fingers, 2 hours were enough. Nowadays he isn’t practicing & looking for a new guitar. About his dreams he tells, “I want to be renowned worldwide”. And with his caliber, perseverance & hard work it can be said without any ambiguity that pretty soon his dream will come true.
He likes Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Kansas & all the likes. According to him, “Gone are the days when I needed to listen to other musician for learning music and inspirations. Now the music comes right from inside”. He
says, “Although Paki music scene is progressing, but it still has a long way to go”. In the local scene he likes the new band Aaroh. About the local guitarists he says, “A lot of them are working nicely, but none of them could be called perfect. They are good with only one or two genres of music. They are not versatile. Some are good with the compositions & some with the guitar solos, but you can’t fill the whole album with your solos”.
Many guitarists learnt the guitaring skills from him. Nabeel (Aaroh) happens to be one of them. He also gave some lessons to Mekaal Hassan. Mekaal says, “I had some technical problems & Faraz solved them for me”.
Now that he has created his own niche in this field, his parents are also proud of him and they don’t have any objections. But in our country music is not thought to be a profession because it does not earn you enough money. About this Faraz says, “I’m quite satisfied with what I am earning. But the thing is when you are an artist, you are only concerned with creating things, not with if it earns you money or not”.
His guitaring abilities can be heard in “Guljana” by Collage. “Jadu” by Ali Haider, which gave a new sound to Paki music scene, is totally sequenced by Faraz except the song Jadu. The guitar work in this album is extremely creative. The guitar solo in Junaid’s “Keh do jo bhi” carries a lot of feel. Faraz is a player who can play all the genres of music with equal ease and virtuosity, be it blues, jazz, funk, rock, metal or trance. Faraz produces his albums himself.
In the local scene, he likes Shallum, Mekaal and Nabeel. He thinks we don’t have some great vocalists. He feels that our scene lacks music producers and musicians need to do this job themselves. For all the upcoming musicians Faraz says, ” First get a grip of the music you want to play properly and then jump in the scene. Don’t make your appearance before you’re matured musically”.
It’s not that we lack good musicians, the real problem is that music has commercialized a lot. It’s really strange that we have such a talented musician who is releasing his albums internationally but in his own country people don’t understand his caliber. But with the growing awareness, we can hope it will change. And Faraz will release his album in Pakistan too.