Danyal Zafar Talks To HELLO!
1. Your second track ‘So Long, Goodbye’ from upcoming album ‘Blue Butterfly’ is a mix of traditional Qawwali and hip hop/ R&B. How did you come up with the concept?
The track was initially entirely in english. I had been working on other concepts where I wanted to incorporate qawwali style vocals on my beats, but for this track it wasn’t until Hassan Badshah was sitting in the studio while I was working on the mix of the track, and when the last couple of bars kicked in he just came up with the melody (that you hear) out of the blue on the harmonium. I literally turned on the mic, we both gave our vocals and when we heard it, we knew we had hit the mark.
2. What is ‘So Long, Goodbye’ about?
I wrote this in sheer frustration when I found out I had been betrayed. The lyrics literally depict how I felt. ‘My heart on a platter she served, ripped it out is she Lecter?’ Is literally what the track revolves around.
3. You’re both a singer and a producer; which role requires more attention?
Both require equal amount of attention when you’re an artist producing for themselves. As an artist and songwriter I come up with melodies and compositions I like and as a producer I’m constantly thinking of the direction I’m gonna take with it’s track and treatment of the entire song. And sometimes it’s vice versa, I come with an idea for a track, produce it entirely and then step in as a songwriter and perform it as an artist. The roles have never conflicted for me, only benefited.
4. What gravitated you towards becoming a singer? Was this always the dream?
I would definitely say I was influenced a lot watching my brother be an artist from childhood and being in a family where music and films had always been around. But as I grew older I realised it’s something I’m deeply passionate about as well. Something that completes me. I actually AM an artist. The profession isn’t something I’m pursuing just because I’ve grown up around it. Music is literally my life now. The way I feel when I express myself through creating music is unreal. It brings out the best in me. Creating music has helped me deal with and celebrate every kind of emotion I‘ve felt. And I think that’s beautiful.
5. How many tracks are in the album? And which one is your personal favourite? Why?
There are 8 tracks in the album. My personal favourite is ‘Rumble Tumble’. Just because of the way I produced it. The process was very raw, slightly experimental and very spontaneous. It’s a different vibe from the rest of the tracks. There’s an artist featured in it as well and recording her was an absolute pleasure because she added so much more to the song!
6. Being the younger brother of well-known singer Ali Zafar, has he been involved in your music journey? Do you get inspiration from him?
Of course. He’s been my first inspiration, a constant guide and mentor. I’ve always turned to him for advice whenever I’m stuck in a debacle (which is a lot) and he’s always been there to help me, push me and make sure that I thrive to my best.
Even watching him, the way he does things has been an inspiration. I’ve learnt a lot of stuff in my beginner days from him, how to record, my first few chords etc. And I’m so grateful that he let me carve my own path, artistically and creatively. That’s not the kind of freedom you usually get from mentors.
7. Where did the name ‘Blue Butterfly’ come from? Tell us a little more about the albums name.
It was the emoji me and this person I loved used on our phones to send each other to express our love and care for one another. To let each other know, we’re there for one another. It was our ‘language of love’. It became OUR thing you know? And since most of the tracks reflect on my time with and without her, I just named it Blue Butterfly as it encapsulates the essence of our relationship.
8. Are they any artist you would love to collaborate with internationally and locally?
I’ve collaborated with 4 artists locally in this album, Maria Unera, MRKLE, Asad Saeed and Anna Salman. They all were phenomenal and I’m super grateful they blessed me with their presence in the album. But of course, there’s a lot more of local artists I’d love to collaborate with. I like the sound that’s coming out of Islamabad. It would be great to work in the future with Talal Qureshi, Adil Omar, I just recently discovered Shamoon Ismail’s music and that spoke out to me as well so him too.
Internationally it’s a dream to collaborate with John Mayer, Frank Ocean, Daniel Caesar, H.E.R. All in good time!
9. What elements define your choice of genre? Where do you find inspiration?
I’ve never looked at music as ‘genres’. It’s just sounds that I connect and vibe with. But if we are to talk genres, I discovered only last year that R&B and Soul is what brings out the most expressive and best in me as an artist. It’s just the groove, the beats. I’m able to do so much in terms of production, melodies, compositions and writing that it’s very fulfilling as an artist.
I find a lot of my inspiration in listening to newer music every other week, especially while I’m travelling.
10. What is the most challenging aspect about your field?
I’d definitely say as much as I’m involved in the process of making my songs, from production to mastering, it’s always a challenge to create something that will make people feel exactly the way you feel through your art.
11. How do you overcome creative blocks?
It’s simple. You have to disconnect. Take a break. Or maybe just make a completely new song from scratch even! But mostly just, take a break for a couple of days, hang out with my friends and hit the studio after 3-4 days.