Aahad Nayani – Drumming his way to people’s hearts
Pakistan has always stood out for its music, both locally and on the global stage. After going through a spell of downturn, our music has once again surfaced with a renewed energy, all thanks to our musicians who didn’t give up on their passion. They have not just helped in the revival of the industry but have also inspired a new generation of musicians who will take on the torch.
Aahad Nayani, a 28 year old drummer who plays for Strings and is part of the Coke Studio’s house band is one such story. Some of you might have noticed during one of his performances at the latest season of Coke Studio, his stick broke and the smooth precision with which he picked the spare!
The journey to the country’s most famous house band has not been an easy one. Nayani’s passion for drums goes back to his earliest memories. This is what he has wanted to do for as long as he can remember. Growing up he watched his father play drums in their community and his mother shares, that from the age of two he used the house utensils and sofas as his drumming instruments.
“Drums have always fascinated me.”
In his school life, Nayani joined a flute band. However, he didn’t play the instrument itself but the snare drum. It was at the age of fifteen that he started listening to western drummers and developed a taste for that style.
“There was a time when I wanted to become a cricketer but due to some reasons I lost complete hope in that prospect and the passion for drums over took my life. I knew that if I concentrate on it I can escalate, as this was something that I have been passionate about since my childhood.”
When he went to his community’s orchestra, the then chairman told him that he was too young and would be considered upon reaching grade 10. Despite the rejection he kept practicing on his own. Given that music was part of his family, one would assume that his decision to pursue it as a profession would have been encouraged. However, the reality was the complete opposite. Community Chairman wanted him to concentrate on his education and focus on a traditional career.
Nayani’s financial status further strained the situation as at times the family was so strapped for cash that putting food on the table was difficult. Hence, to cover the finances, Nayani took up a low salary job at the call center for three months. Simultaneously he got involved with underground bands and used to balance his job shifts in accordance to his jam sessions; doing double shifts in a day to get the next off for the jam.
With no break on the music front and his leaving the job, his family asked him to take up ACCA, which he complied to. However, after clearing two papers he quit his education.
“It was a gut feeling, that this is not for me, and that I wanted to just focus on drums.”
This decision was not welcomed by his family and friends, apart from his mother and sister. The rest of his family saw him headed in the wrong direction. He faced a family boycott of sorts and locked himself up in his room drumming, spending his time in self learning for future prospects.
Through a friend, he was informed about a studio that was looking for a drummer. Without hesitation, he showed up and recorded an album produced by Faisal Rafi. Few days later, Mr Rafi offered him to join the house band for a TV show called, Azam-e-Alishaan. As destiny would have it, the show was being judged by none other than the Strings duo. On the last day of the show’s shoot, Bilal Maqsood offered him to play for their band, giving Nayani his first break from which there has been no looking back. From there he ended up joining the Coke Studio house band.
The first ever drum set that Nayani owned was a second hand Yamaha 1974 that his father had bought for him. At the time of recording the album he needed a professional drum kit which he bought with the help of some money his uncle loaned to him. Today, he is the sole Pakistani ambassador for Mapex drums and Vater Sticks, talk about coming a long way!
Nayani is of the opinion that there are lot of taboos associated with music in the society. For him something that comes to a person naturally can’t be termed as wrong or not be valued. He is a self-taught drummer who followed his instincts and his own example is the counter argument to the hard-line viewpoint. Being a society that encourages conformity, those who want to stand out need to prove themselves, only then will they be appreciated. It takes a lot of time and patience to change opinions but at the end of the day it is worth it. Nayani stayed steadfast about his passion and all those who want to follow suit should take a leaf out of his book. Hard work, persistence and patience are the core ingredients.
“I have to work even harder, there is a long way to go, this is just the beginning for me.”
Music and musicians have always brought Pakistan into a positive lime light. It is a good way to break stereotypes about the country and we hope to see Nayani exploring his craft and continuing to be a source of inspiration. You can visit his Facebook page and Youtube channel for his amazing performances!
Interview by Adeeba Kirani | Written by Fatima Arif