In conversation with the dreamer, Natasha Humera Ejaz
Natasha Ejaz’s dreamy music video for her latest song ‘Khwab’ was released on social media on Sunday.
Trained in different forms of dance from hip-hop to kathak, Natasha shows her prowess and breadth of skill in the video.
When you first watch the video, you wonder what Natasha is trying to do?
Although dance is not everyone’s cup of tea, it is one of the most visceral art forms and works well with this song.
You witness a shift in the mood from day to night, as the song progresses from mellow and warm to heavy and resounding. With this change, you also notice Natasha’s performance become more impassioned.
The quick cuts, lighting and colour treatment gives the video that dream-like quality, and helps it correspond with the theme of the song.
The video was co-directed by Natasha and Shahrukh Khurshid, who also did the cinematography. Natasha’s drummer Ali Junejo and Salik Abbasi have ably handled the post-production, making this tricky, possible hit-and-miss, a success.
Natasha is also working on her music video for 'Raqeeb', for which she is collaborating with Kohi Marri.
This video will be premiered at Natasha's EP launch in the first week of December, for which she has planned installations to go with every song. The idea is for people to walk in and have a visual experience instead of a standard band performance.
We grabbed a cup of coffee with Natasha and chatted about Khwab's unusual shoot and her upcoming EP.
Images: How is 'Khwab' different from your other music videos?
Natasha: I think I've grown a lot in the last three years, so everything that I did prior to this has been really cute and adorable, according to most people. This one is darker, has a little more spunk to it. There's absolutely nothing other than dance being explored in it, so that’s really interesting.
Images: You’ve been dancing for a while...
Natasha: I’ve been dancing since a really long time and have been missing it, so I thought of just shooting it. Ali Junejo and Shahrukh Khurshid shot it, so I said I’ll get some dance practice and you’ll get some shooting practice, and if we can find a narrative in the end, that'll be great.
Images: What was it like to shoot the dance video?
Natasha: We just decided on a Saturday that I will dance on Sunday. It was just me wanting to improvise, so we had no plans.
It took a lot of trust from these guys because I said, 'I’m just going to do these things. Shoot them.' They had no idea what was going through my head or what was the story possibly could be. I sat with Ali Junejo on the edit for a really long time. and [pieced together a] basic narrative.
The shoot itself was very tiring because I was dancing from 11am to 12am. The light started changing since we started in the daytime [and at one point,] they told me to finish the video in the next hour. I [couldn't] because we [wouldn't have had] enough content, so I said let's break for two hours and let nightfall come. We lit up the studio and completely warped the concept. That’s how the video's daytime/nighttime split came about.
Images: Have you explored the song's concept through the choreography, or is the music just an aural backdrop for the dance?
Natasha: The choreography is [inspired by] the lyrics. If you pay attention to the song, it's basically like a personification of a dream and the interaction between the person who's dreaming and the dream itself. So we wanted to depict that as much as possible.
The entire video takes place in a dance studio, so the dancer is symbolic of the spiral we find ourselves in. You keep hoping, keep dreaming, keep waking up, there's reality, it hits you and at some point, you're like ‘Hey! Optimism!' and you go back into it.
Images: Is the song about finding yourself?
Natasha: It’s more about realizing where you are at. Just realizing the matrix that we live in, the spiral that we live in, the delusions that we live in...
Images: Let’s talk a bit about your EP.
There are four songs on the EP. The first one we put out is ‘Raqeeb’, which is that conversation that you have with the next person that you want to fall in love with. You just want to tell them, 'I'm capable of this. Just give me a chance.'
Then, we have 'Khwab', which we've talked about.
And then there's ‘God Song’, which is about taking that entire space and giving some hope to it, and ‘Till The End of Time’, which is closest to my heart. I wrote it for my dad and it's about our relationship. That's why it’s the title of the EP and the last song on the EP.
I am planning to put out 'Till The End of Time' when we launch the EP in the first week of December.
Images: So, who is officially in your band for this EP?
Natasha: Khizar Jhumra was [our bassist] before he moved, after which Bradley D'Souza played bass on the one remaining song that needed it. My live act now consists of Rahail Siddiqui [bass], Ali Suhail [guitars], Saad Hayat [keyboard], Ali Junejo [drums] and myself.
Images: Why did you decide to release an EP instead of an album?
Natasha: I decided to do an EP because honestly – costs.
I want to make sure that the producer gets paid, that the band gets paid whenever it is possible and at the end of the day, I am an indie musician in a country where the kind of music that I am doing want to do is going to take some time to pick up.
It would take me till next year to save up for an album. I’ve been sitting on these songs for a very long time, so it got frustrating because I wanted to move on.
Images: What was the idea behind releasing each song online as opposed to releasing the EP in one go?
Natasha: Since I hadn’t put something out in a really long time, I wanted to let audiences in one at a time.
Marketing an EP as a four-track collection is really hard, especially when there is so much thought and love and passion put into each song.
Even though they merge beautifully as a theme, they are also four different parts of my life and I wanted to showcase that.
Images: What was recording this like? You were working with Omran Shafique?
Natasha: We as a band worked on all the music ourselves, and I talked to Omran about producing it. Omran used to come to our jams and share how he wants to record each song.
We tried to keep it as live as possible. All of us were at the studio, even if it was one person recording. I was the only person who did my tracks myself because they insisted I do it that way. Even Omran had a lot of trust in what I was doing; he just said, 'If you need me, just let me know.'
He sat through some really important songs like 'Khwab'. We reworked Khwab's melody quite a lot, so he helped in that. He also helped in the harmonies for 'Raqeeb' and 'God Song'.
It was really good working with Omran because he doesn’t try to change you, he tries to bring the best out of you.
Images: What feedback have you received about the songs released so far?
Natasha: 'Raqeeb' has gotten fantastic feedback. Luckily, I started doing this at a time when Taazi and Patari are alive and they are very honest gauges of who is listening, and how much, etc.
I think 'Raqeeb' made it to some top five list and 'The God Song' on Taazi's top ten list in the weeks they were released. I’ve gotten some very kind, supportive personal messages on the fan page. Someone said that they're glad that I'm persevering and doing what is me.
'Raqeeb' also got featured on an international radio show for world music last month in London. As for 'Khwab', people have been really enamoured by the guitar and vocal solo.
Images: Will you follow this up with live shows?
Natasha: I don’t think I love anything more than being on stage and actually saying what I need to say to people. In the last three years, we've had a lot more music festivals than we used to. So, I hope to keep performing.
We are writing new stuff all the time, so the only real challenge for me is that when we do live shows, how do we start introducing the new music. I don’t know how that will happen but it will. We are not going to stop.