Natasha Noorani’s first solo album, Ronak, will take you on an emotional journey exploring the ideas of love, relationship toxicity and friendship. Noorani describes her own musical journey as a series of challenges and triumphs. She recently released her debut music album globally and in a candid conversation with Images, she delved into the process of making the album, describing it as a vivid portrayal of her musicality and personal journey.
The ‘Faltu Pyar’ singer’s rise to stardom in the Pakistani music scene began three years ago, with the release of her hit original single ‘Baby Baby’ on Velo Sound Station.
But even before that, she was no stranger to the music industry — she was well-known in music circles as the co-director of the Lahore Music Meet. She worked behind the scenes for 15 years in several different roles, ranging from being the former manager of pop-rock duo Strings to curating anthems for the Pakistan Super League.
“Working backstage gave me an understanding of what works and what does not,” Noorani explained.
Despite this understanding, her journey making her solo album was marred with challenges. “My music is so different than what is happening these days like hip-hop rock, hence it was a struggle to communicate my ideas, which were also not market ready,” the singer said. Now that the album is out, her words about it being unique could not be more authentic. The songs have glimpses of the Pakistani music produced in the 60s and 70s, a hint of silliness and, most importantly, profound truths of human relationships.
The sound of Ronaq represents the singer’s journey into “lolly-pop”, a new genre of electronic pop music inspired by the history of subcontinental music of which Noorani is a pioneer.
When asked how lolly-pop came around, Noorani responded, “I am a music historian and my focus was Pakistani music from the 50s, 60s and 70s — that music found a home in my art and came out in the form of melodies.” The music in that era was primarily featured in Lollywood, hence the name “lolly-pop”.
The album’s first half features cool, retro-pop, electronic dance numbers that will have you snapping your fingers. The second half will take you on a deep dive into the sufferings of empathic people.
Her enthusiasm was palpable, even over the phone, especially when the conversation turned to her songs. She said ‘Frendz,’ co-produced by Talal Qureshi, was made on a day when neither of them had an agenda for the day. “Talal was playing with his synthesiser, I started singing the lyrics, and we recorded it with a mic,” she said. ‘Frendz’, one of Noorani’s favourite songs on the album, talks about the casual conversations between friends, and their bond.
“As soon as the song was developed, I knew I wanted Annural to sing it with me,” Noorani said of ‘call me’. Sung by two women, the song is a breath of fresh air in the male-dominated Pakistani music industry where women are mostly paired with male singers and only once in a blue moon do solos. The song is about breaking toxic relationship ties, believing in yourself and letting go of what harms you and it has relatable lyrics like “I ain’t the type to believe in every word you say”.
Co-produced by Abdullah Qureshi, ‘Baaz’ is in the album’s second half, which deals with darker themes and has deeper lyrics. According to Noorani, the song asks oppressors how can they live with their lack of morality.
Other songs like ‘Laaiyan’ have prominent hints of Lollywood with a bit of silliness to them, for instance, “laaiyan laaiyan taxi buliyan” — just when you think you know the end, it turns around and surprises you.
All of Noorani’s songs in Ronak are easy to sing along to, incredibly catchy and embody elements of retro pop, where elements from sounds from yesteryear are mixed with modern beats to give it that nostalgic yet contemporary feel.
Change that needs to happen
The ‘Baaz’ singer has frequently shared the challenges she had to overcome during her journey in the music industry.
Consequently, we asked her about potential solutions to address these challenges. “There’s a critical need for safe, welcoming spaces where young women can gather and create music. Unfortunately, many of these opportunities arise late at night, making it challenging for most girls to leave their homes,” she explained.
Concerts can sometimes prove to be a daunting experience for young women, as their experiences may occasionally be marred by altercations or incidents of harassment, detracting from what should otherwise be an enjoyable event.
When asked if she has any advice for aspiring young female musicians who look up to her, Noorani emphasised the importance of channelling their creative expressions and affording them time, respect, and space. She stressed that there’s no one “right way” to pursue their dreams; they should make the most of the resources available to them.
Drawing from her own experience, she said that she was able to create more content when she let go of the need for perfection. In fact, she recorded most of the songs on her latest album in the comfort of her own room, which she found to be the ideal environment for her creative process.
She summarised her future plans in four words, “Ruk nai rahe mai [I am not stopping]”. We can’t wait to see what she’ll come up with next.