The secret weapon for an increasing number of British-Asian artists is Lahore-based music producer Irfan Chaudhry.
With a studio set up in the city, the Pakistani musical maestro has been responsible for creating hit songs for a number of British artists including TaZzZ, Maz Bonafide and Nafees. He has also worked on diverse projects with talented Pakistani artists.
Eastern Eye ventured into the heart of Lahore to shine a spotlight on a bright talent who has lit up the songs for so many stars with his music, to find out more about him, his creative process, latest releases and inspirations.
How do you look back on your journey as a musician so far?
It’s been very difficult having to overcome hurdles along the way, but at the end when the music does the talking, it’s all worth it. It’s ultimately a learning curve and this journey has no destination. I just carry on and take on new challenges. But I have to say whatever I am today is because of this journey, which continues to surprise me in a good way.
What was the turning point for you?
I would have to say the turning point was when I started producing for the international market and getting global recognition. I’m not saying I’m disregarding the Pakistani market, but it took me out of my comfort zone and taught me that there is a bigger world out there.
How does it feel to be the secret weapon of so many British-Asian artists?
I don’t know about the term ‘secret weapon’, but I have been overwhelmed with all the success and recognition I have received. This is my job and it has to feed my passion for me to be motivated. I’m just happy to work with talented artists and it doesn’t really matter where they are from.
I have produced a lot of songs for British-Asian artists even though I live here in Pakistan – that is down to the power of the Internet. Nowadays it’s very accessible and easy to connect. It’s also the power of music, which is a universal language.
Tell us about your most recent songs?
After delivering the song Jannat earlier this year, I released Vichore, which features the talented singer Ali Wadood and UK-based rapper Illmatik. It has a beautiful melody and emotional lyrics about love and pain. The song is available to purchase on all leading digital outlets and the video is out now on YouTube.
I also produced the recently released song Nazar Na Lagey by Maz Bonafide.
Which songs for the UK acts have you enjoyed producing the most?
I enjoy every song I produce as I always put my heart and soul into it. I try my utmost to deliver it to the best of my ability, but if I had to pick one, I would have to say Ayaan by my brother TaZzZ.
It was a special experience. It was the first time we connected and through that we built a very good friendship. We have an amazing chemistry which is very organic and natural.
The whole making of Ayaan was a fun vibe. We were two people with the same amount of knowledge and passion, giving our all because we believed the outcome would be beautiful.
Two years since its release, it has been regarded as a classic anthem. I feel very proud about that.
Have any of the songs you have done surprised you with their success?
When a song is released, you never know what the outcome will be. My main objective has always been that I am satisfied with my product; what happens after that one cannot control.
But I have to say when the song Bukhaar, which I produced for Nafees, was released, it went viral all over social media. It was appreciated and loved by the masses. It became a breakthrough for me and Nafees gained overnight success. It’s one of my personal favourite projects.
What is your working method in the studio?
I like to work mostly at night and alone in the studio, so I can write music and produce new ideas without anyone disturbing me. This is how I like to catch my vibe.
You have worked on a range of genres, but which is your favourite?
I like symphonic music blended with hip-hop. It’s all about fusion and creating something unique.
A number of artists have become successful with your songs. Do you believe that you get the credit you deserve?
I believe everyone should get credit. It should all be about teamwork and not individuals. Some of the artists do give proper credit and mention my name proudly, but some try to hide it, which I can’t really understand.
Which of your unreleased songs are you most excited about?
(Smiles) I’m excited about all of them. They are all different styles. I have some interesting collaborations on the way too, which I can’t wait to share with the world.
Which of the many singers you have worked with is the most fun to chill with?
I enjoy working with TaZzZ. He is a fun guy and the fact that he is also a producer makes life easier. He is so energetic and full of life. Like I said, we have this amazing chemistry when we are working together and completely understand each other’s vision because we have such a strong friendship. We always find time to get away from the studio and chill together. We both love music and have so much passion for it – we can talk for hours about it.
Which singer would you love to work with?
If the opportunity ever came, I would like to work with Atif Aslam because he has a unique voice, along with his vocal delivery and emotion. That would be a very interesting collaboration if it was to happen.
What is the Pakistani music scene like?
It is filled with talent and is growing very quickly. There is so much competition, which makes it very healthy. The history it has is very rich and I believe the whole world appreciates and respects the talent we have as a nation, but I do think that sometimes we don’t get enough recognition of that in the media.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face as an artist?
Well, every day is challenging for me in the studio to do something new, but the biggest challenge I ever faced was to work on a script for songs in a TV drama for the first time. It’s not the same as working on a single song – when it is a whole soundtrack, you have to merge the tracks with the emotions that are already on screen. But challenges like these bring out the best in me.
You champion new talent. Which upcoming singers should we look out for?
One upcoming artist you should keep an eye out for is Pakistani singer Ali Wadood. He is on a different level, very talented and a promising singer along with many other attributes. You can check him out on my latest production Vichore.
Where is the strangest place you have come up with a song?
(Laughs) They may not admit it publicly, but every producer would agree here – the infamous toilet seat.
What inspires you today?
Green places and good music inspires me. Life itself is an inspiration. I can get creative any time of the day or night. It could be anything that I hear or see.
Which music producers do you most admire?
I like composing duo Salim Sulaiman and AR Rahman sir. I am huge fan of theirs because they always come up with new ideas and outstanding production. Just when you think they can’t get any better, they surprise you again and again.
What are your some of your big passions away from music?
I like exploring history and travelling.
What has been the best advice you ever got?
Be patient and never ask for work from anyone, it will come to you on its own.
Do you think there is a secret to producing a hit song?
(Laughs) The big secret is there is no secret. You never know which song is going to be a hit – all you can do is give your 100 per cent.
Finally, why do you love music?
Ever since I was a kid, all I have known is music. I can’t explain it. It’s inside me. I eat, sleep and breathe music. I can’t live without it. Music is healing and spiritual.