Jimmy Khan’s journey from being a notable musician in Pakistan’s indie-music scene to widening his horizon to mainstream staging has been gradual and dignified. From featuring at Coke Studio in its seventh installment to turning to films last year with the track 'Baarish' in Asim Raza’s commercial success, Ho Mann Jahaan, and 'Khaamoshi' and 'Hone Do' from the critically acclaimed Mehreen Jabbar directorial, Dobara Phir Se.
His stint at this year’s Lux Style Awards brought music and fashion together like never before. His soulful compositions and soothing vocals have truly added a new facet to commercially acclaimed musicians in Pakistan. Taking that forward, Jimmy returns to the fore after a brief hiatus with a single titled 'Madame'.
“For me, now that I think about it, it’s hard-hitting to know that people expect something from you. At one point, when nobody really knew me, there was nothing,” he tells Images of how his newfound fame has helped him evolve as a musician. “Madame is a song with which I’ve ventured into a completely new dimension, and what I enjoyed the most, is that it is something that was not expected from me. I’m not trying to alter myself to expectations.”
However, he agrees to the fact that his metamorphosis has been consciously come about. “It’s not just a transition, it’s a dual role on purpose, and something I’ve added onto my wagon from what it only used to be. I’ve also indulged into commercial, mainstream music now, which is off the brand ‘Jimmy Khan’. I write for myself, but I do commission work as well,” he claims.
Seeking financial stability from the music fraternity is yet to become a reality, especially from the genre of music Jimmy originated from. “Survival plays an important role. Regardless of what is going to happen, I decided music is something I want to pursue and on some subconscious levels, you do constantly work towards making it more of a wholesome deal and an endeavor for yourself.
“It’s my livelihood; this is what I do for a living. However, it’s not only that, as a singer and songwriter, it naturally comes upon me,” he continues of going beyond the mercenary peg. “The fact that I love Urdu and Punjabi comes into play as well; I feel really connected to both the languages and feel the need to communicate through them.”
Coming back to Jimmy’s latest track, 'Madame', the 'Baarish'-famed singer revealed that even though he wasn’t too keen on releasing the track that he had penned with Danial Malik last year, it was the anatomy of the tune by Zain Ahsan, that brought him closer to 'Madame' – personally.
“It was a composition I worked with my very dear friend and lyricist, Danial last year and while writing it, or even when you’ll hear it, it could be very generic; it could be about anything,” he observes. “I honestly wasn’t in the mood to release it right now, but when Zain took it to the studio; played the electric guitar, he wanted to rearrange my sound as well and it was very interesting, the direction he wanted to take it in.”
Judging by the song’s first look, the video seems to be along the lines of ‘Soch’s Adnan Dhul’s single Dhola that highlighted the struggle of the transgender community in Pakistan. When questioned about whether the single takes social commentary forward, Jimmy says he revisited the libretto to make it more relevant to its flick.
“When I conceived images of the song and saw the visuals, and the idea which it became, I reworked the lyrics with Danial, altered it in accordance to its theme. It might be able to start up a conversation, but at least at my end, it is in no way a public service message. That said, the video is very close to something that is very real in our society, it affects all of us and we need to start considering it.”
Speaking of his breather earlier this year, Jimmy feels he isn’t exclusive to the work he takes up, but has been exacting of the brains he collaborated with. “Commercially, I only work with people who give me enough creative freedom. Even if I’m given a brief about what their vision is, I have to have the sole responsibility of creating music and I’ve mostly been happy with what I’ve done,” he maintains.
That said; he doesn’t feel he made a deliberate decision of isolating himself from the territory. “It’s not really about being selective, its more about how my year’s been organized, how much priority I’m giving to what and I’ve always wanted to be on stage,” he began. “I want to be able to perform live and that takes a lot of the chunk. When it comes to projecting an image, that is slightly more than what I truly am, that’s something I’m not into. I’m only showcasing my work, there’s nothing more.”
Soft-pop being his claim-to-fame, Jimmy reveals that he’s been adapting to filmy, classical folk and is trying to incorporate that into his forthcoming musical outings. Aspiring to take a departure from what he’s known for instead of hammering what he’s found; it can truly be a gamble, but then everything in music is.
“I’m writing a bunch of ideas. I’m working towards something electronic folksy and collaborating with people, so there’s nothing specific for now,” he discloses. “I’ve done only a certain sound up till now, but I don’t want to restrict myself. It’s not the right time for me to do that. I am still exploring and putting myself out there, differently. I never want to settle with any one sound.”
Apart from the release of 'Madame', Jimmy is slated to fly to the United States, where he will be performing at the East Coast. Also expecting another single in autumn, Jimmy concludes with saying that he’s back to the grind and we surely don’t mind.