Sufi music gets a new note
Musician Azaan Khan's first solo album philo_sufi, combines the beauty of Sufi lyrics with instruments like dubstep, drum and bass. In a freewheeling chat with Surekha S, he talks about his illustrious background, his passion for music and why it's important to reach out to India's youth
What is striking about the recently released album, philo_sufi is that the Sufi lyrics are set to music that has been created using Western instruments, entirely. “Not a single Indian instrument has been used in the album,” says 23-year-old Azaan Khan about his first solo album.
Ask him about the reason behind choosing to set Sufi lyrics to Western instruments, he explains, “It came across as a new genre that would appeal to the youth.” The young talent has written the lyrics, composed the music and sung the songs for the album.
Philo_sufi, according to Khan, is an album that tries to bridge the gap between modern and traditional music. “It is contemporary Sufi. The lyrics are traditional Sufi and even the tunes emanate from traditional sounds. But, the instruments are completely Western with contemporary Jazz insturments like dubstep, drum and bass,” he explains.
Sufi for all
We prod further, about whether the lyrics are devotional and similar to traditional Sufi music? “The songs are Sufi in thought. It is about good living. I believe that more than a religion, Sufi is a way of life. It is about simple living, where everyone is treated equally and people live in harmony in a society where there is no violence,” he adds. He wrote some of the lyrics of songs that form part of the album when he was in the eleventh grade. “I like writing about social norms and political situations. I write about my thoughts on life and my philosophies. That’s how the name of the album also came about,” he explains.
Azaan started composing music at a very young age. Being the son of sitar maestro Ustad Shujaat Khan and the grandson of late Ustaad Vilayat Khan, music came naturally to him. He started learning the guitar in eight grade, and the piano in eleventh grade. “I trained in Hindustani vocals at the KMMC, AR Rahman’s music conservatory. I learnt the piano and steel drums as well. Being trained in both Hindustani and Western music, I could combine them to create good contemporary music,” he informs.
He has collaborated on five to six albums; philo_sufi is his first solo album. The new kind of music that he is introducing in this album, he hopes will strike a chord with the youth. “The music is fresh, new and will touch them, emotionally. I hope they will listen to intelligent music created with sensible lyrics,” he shares, in hope.