Uzair Jaswal is making a musical comeback with an album created within months and he’s calling it Lovestruck. This is his second album and it encapsulates the journey of love in a holistic way because, according to him, love-struck may have you in love but it also has you struck.
Jaswal has always waded through the waters of melody — he recalls how he’d go on seven-hour road trips from Islamabad to Lahore frequently — wedged in the car with his seven siblings and they’d all be subjected to his parents’ playlists that would feature great musicians such as Kishore Kumar, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Hemant Kumar. He credits his musical ear to his parents’ music taste.
His is a story of music running through the veins. He’d make up songs in his own language — whatever the coded tongue of children might be — and dance to his melodies. “My report card from kindergarten says ‘your child is full of music.’ My mum still has it,” he told Images.
He recalled his first big performance at the age of 14 when Entity Paradigm (EP) performed at his school and his band got the chance to open for them. “We performed well so they asked us to play some more and that exact moment is when my love for the stage began — there’s a certain connection with the audience a musician has and it was two-way. There and then I knew this is what I wanted.”
With the momentum building with his brothers Umair and Yasir also pursuing the arts, word spreading about this teen who sang quite well, landing him gigs. He finally made the leap and released his first song ‘Yaheen’ at 17. It was ‘Tere Bin’, though, that kickstarted his career. Calling it his “lucky song”, he said it changed the game.
“I started performing more and traveling more. Two years later I got picked by Coke Studio for the same song — then three years later the same song for Bollywood. It was one of those songs that was reborn every few years — it became an anthem for me. It also won awards across borders, it was just a special song.”
Jaswal added that being picked by Coke Studio felt as incredible as a “college acceptance letter”. He described himself as “just a young boy among legends,” being the youngest artist to have ever been featured on Coke Studio at the time.
After production, progress and “scattered” song releases, in 2017 Jaswal decided to compile his music into an album and added the bow on top calling it Na Bhulana, a name he attributed to his desire to leave a legacy behind.
In the time leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, Jaswal finished his undergraduate studies, pursued some acting roles and produced music, including a collaboration with Momina Mustehsan for ‘Hamesha’. Then 2020 happened and the music stopped.
“Growing up I’ve only known one way of living life and that’s being on stage. Till the age of 20, I did theatre, musicals and performed all over Pakistan so for me the only way to live was being on stage and then all of a sudden it was all gone," he said.
"Who knew it wasn’t going to happen for another two years, right? When that happened for me, I just closed off from the world. It took a toll on me.”
The ‘Yaadaan’ singer explained that he takes inspiration for his music from his environment, from human interaction and meeting loved ones so he can write from a place of contentment. “When you’re sitting at home in one room you can’t write freely, you can’t be inspired,” he said.
Jaswal said the uncertainty paralysed the musician in him and that he couldn’t write for the entirety of the year until his Dec 2020 song for Velo Sound Station with Sara Haider. “I started writing again — I took a flight to Karachi, which was my first flight in Covid, and I felt better. I thought, ‘wow, this is what I’ve been missing! This is my life, what am I doing at home? Life has to go on, the show must go on.’”
From this point on — especially after vaccinations became available — the singer utilised his period of rest to get back up with a “new vigour” and energy that led to the music flowing out of him effortlessly.
Even though the songwriter was ecstatic to finally get rid of his writer’s block, he made sure to not rush himself. He allowed the process to take its natural course. “So that’s how I started writing and then I got to my eighth song and thought, 'is this it? Am I writing an album?'” Jaswal added the cherry on top — the ninth song and that’s how Lovestruck was born.
The title of the album isn't a random choice of words. Jaswal explained how his understanding of love was transformed by the pandemic — a hug was not an ordinary embrace anymore, it was cherished more, everything was cherished more than before.
But love isn't always a positive experience. “Love is such a rollercoaster, there are all sorts of twists and turns and ups and downs. The album talks about the good, the bad, the crazy, the emotional, the toxic and the great — just the whole journey of love.”
The musician isn't love-struck right now but that hasn't always been the case. He is a romantic — one of the few who “still have hope that their one true love is out there.”
For the ‘Nindiya Ke Paar’ singer, “love and heartbreak are feelings that resonate with everyone,” and music has a big impact on people because it gives a voice to what people feel but cannot say.
Jaswal prides himself on the originality of his content, saying “I feel like people will connect more with me if I write it myself — it’s a different feeling when you’ve written a song and it goes big because there’s this sense of ownership and the satisfaction is greater."
The singer said his album will be up on all digital streaming platforms on Dec 24. Each of the nine songs will get their own music video, released every three to four weeks starting Dec 24 because he doesn't want to "discriminate" between them. He's going to be performing his new album live in Islamabad on Dec 24 and Karachi on Dec 26.
After a pretty serious interview and in the spirit of getting to know the musician beyond his music, we asked him about his strangest fan encounter. “The funniest would probably be this one time fans showed up at my house when I was out of town and told my parents they’re my childhood friends. They mentioned some general things about me that they ‘remembered’ and ended up having chai with my parents. They had a full conversation and then left.”
Jaswal hopes 2022 will be “the year of collaborations” — his wish list includes Natasha Noorani, Young Stunners, Aima Baig and Maanu. He also said he’s reading a lot of scripts. “I’m going to do lot more television this year — I want my acting to be taken very seriously. I don’t want to be a musician who can act, I want to be a musician and an actor. I want to do great at both.”