Wajiha Ather Naqvi has been a vocalist for Coke Studio, initially part of the house-band in season 11, Wajiha is also part of the creative strategy team this year. She debuted a lead singer this season (13), and has also composed her own original track , produced by Rohail Hyatt, called 'Yaqeen'.
Being an artist in Pakistan, Wajiha Naqvi has explored cultural history and fusion, as well as focusing on understanding eastern classical music and its anthropology in the Islamic world.
Q. When did you decide what profession you wanted to pursue in Pakistan?
This has been and still is an evolving process and I’m not sure if I've ever wanted to be boxed into one single profession. I think one would especially resonate with this in the post-COVID world which has focused many of us to re-think on how to diversify your skill sets within the profession. In my case, I’ve been interested in many different yet overlapping things but I suppose my passion for the arts, particularly music and its social context, has been the primary driving force in both my educational background and career.
Q. Was it always music, or the cultural experience?
I think it's both as music is a subset of this cultural experience. Everything that I have done or pursued professionally has somehow always been connected broadly to the creative space, whether it is managing cultural programs/festivals, writing about cultural history or just doing music itself.
Q. Describe your musical journey in Pakistan so far
I haven’t been in the mainstream music space until about two years ago when I became one of the backing vocalists on coke studio’s season . I’ve mostly been singing western music since a very young age at school and college concerts, but this took a bit of back seat once I started working full-time because over the years I became more interested in Hindustani classical music and and was in search of the right teacher for this. music continues to be a very personal journey where my focus has always been to work on my voice and the knowledge behind eastern classical music. I truly feel that even a lifetime is not enough to learn this art form. but having said that, I have been making music and hope to make it more public now.
Q. Have you also had experience with teaching in the country, at universities, and what have you taught so far?
Yes, I have taught undergraduate courses at Szabist and IVS as Visiting Faculty. These include courses on the anthropology of music; media, culture and society and music appreciation.
Q. How would you describe anthropology in Pakistan and it’s study?
To put it simply, anthropology is the study of human society and culture. It is an academic approach to understanding human behaviour and societies based on the economic, political and cultural/social conditions they live in. My own specific interests lie in the anthropology of music in South Asia and the Islamic world.
Q. What was it like working with Rohail Hyatt on your original song ‘Yaqeen’?
It was an experience of a life-time. He is such a creative visionary and knows how to best create a sound that suits the style of the artist. He spends a lot of detail and effort into each aspect of the song so I got to learn so much from him. I would also encourage people to read his post on “yaqeen" that he shared from his Facebook page (and which he’s done for all the songs).
Q. Can you tell us a bit about the story behind ‘Yaqeen’
Yaqeen is about believing in one’s own potential- it is an introspective dialogue with myself to not lose faith and keep marching on. Being a female, I have written Yaqeen from a feminine perspective, not to say that men wouldn’t relate to it as I hope they do too as we all go through experiences of loss and heartbreak in our lives.
I have a three fold role in this season, I joined Rohail to work on research and creative strategy as part of the production team; I’m one of the backing vocalists and also a lead vocalist with my own original song.
Q. Which genre or ‘type’ of music would you say is your personal style?
I would say my music taste is quite varied and diverse because I listen to everything under the sun including jazz, hip-hop, electronic, desi music- you name it! I suppose I am most drawn to the fusion of our own South Asian classical music repertoire with other types of music which is usually termed as "world music” though I would not want to restrict myself to just that sound.
Q. Do you think Coke Studio is a great platform for musicians in Pakistan?
Yes, most definitely. It is the biggest stage for a musician here in Pakistan and one that is very well respected both locally and internationally. I am proud to be a part of it and also excited to see that so many other newer music platforms have originated as a result of this one.
Q. What’s next for Wajiha Naqvi?
I work in these overlapping spheres as both a creative professional but also as a musician and wish to continue along both lines. I hope to create more of my own music, do more song-writing and perhaps my own album in due time.