POP SONGWRITING DUO 'HASSAN & ROSHAAN' ARE HERE TO DOMINATE THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
We met up with Lahore-based duo Hassan Sheikh and Roshaan Sherwani, better known as Hassan & Roshaan, who exclusively tell us about their journey, what it is like working as a team, future plans, and more. Read on...
Hassan & Roshaan it’s a pleasure to have you both here. Could you please tell us a bit yourselves and what life looked like before fame?
Hassan: Glad to be a part of this interview! To answer your question, Hassan & Roshaan were just two individuals from Lahore that shared a passion for music and the music scene of Pakistan. We both grew up listening to and watching the old scene, and also saw its decline later. By the time we were starting our shared trajectory as ‘H&R’, we desperately wanted to play our part in bringing that sense of festivities back, and as students started working to save money and invest in our music while also working on our craft as songwriters.
‘It was absolutely surreal. The ‘Ms. Marvel’ feature happened at a really crucial time for us’ - Hassan
‘After our first song ‘Allah Hu’ turned out well, we took that as our cue to keep working together and to create all the songs and albums we later ended up with’ - Roshaan
Fill us in on how your journey began as music artists and how did you both team up to be a duo?
Roshaan: Hassan was my senior in university and was looking for someone to play with him at a gig. Through coincidence, we ended up playing at the same show. That’s where we first met. At that time, Hassan had been working as a vocalist and a songwriter and I h a d n e w l y l e a r n t m u s i c production on a software, after l e a r n i n g s e v e r a l m u s i c a l instruments. Our skillsets really complemented each other at the time, and as it turned out, so did our goals and values.
After our first song ‘Allah Hu’ turned out well, we took that as our cue to keep working together and to create all the songs and albums we later ended up with.
You both were part of the MCU with your song ‘Doobne De’ that was featured in ‘Ms. Marvel’. Tell us more about this. What was your reaction upon finding out?
Hassan: It was absolutely surreal. The ‘Ms. Marvel’ feature happened at a really crucial time for us. We were working on our album ‘Day 5’ at the time and had no idea how we would fund it or how we would convince people to collaborate with us as we did not have that ‘buzz’ around us. Fortunately, it all happened at the right time. Sometimes we like to think it happened simply because ‘Day 5’s completion needed it to happen (laughs).
Your song ‘Sukoon’ is blowing up, even across borders! It has received an immense amount of love. Before releasing the song did you guys expect it to be as successful as it is now?
Roshaan: We certainly didn’t expect it to grow as fast as it did! But we did believe in its potential from very early on. During a songwriting session when I came up with its melody and sang it with a guitar, Hassan got so excited and knew right away we had hit gold, even though I was a bit like, ‘Really? I mean its nice and all but you really think its THAT good?’. Fortunately he did.
‘We certainly didn’t expect it (Sukoon) to grow as fast as it did! But we did believe in its potential from very early on’ - Roshaan
How was it like working with Shae G i l l ? A n y m o r e e x c i t i n g collaborations we need to look out for this year?
Working with her was so pleasant! Not only is she super nice, but also incredibly skilled at what she does. Her recording session was the smoothest one we had during our ‘Day 5’ sessions. Our next big collaboration is with QB, which we’re super excited about! We’re in our final stages of wrapping it up and will probably be all set to release it this month 2023.
As a duo, what are both of your responsibilities - who comes up with the lyrics, who works on the music etc?
Hassan is the main vocalist and Roshaan handles the music production and recordings. As far as songwriting is concerned there is no strict rule, but the general pattern is: Hassan mainly comes up with the lyrics and Roshaan mainly comes up with the melodies.
Some exceptions to this pattern:
Hassan wrote the melody for ‘Lamha’ as well as ‘Doobne De’ along with its lyrics. Roshaan almost entirely wrote the lyrics of ‘Rang’ along with its melody. The most convenient summary is, we both write the songs together (laughs).
How do you guys balance working with each other professionally and being friends? How do you set aside any differences or arguments, if any?
It’s funny how we started off interacting on a strictly professional basis at first. But after working for so much time together, it was natural for us to develop a sort of sibling-like work friendship. Our casual time is usually spent either discussing philosophy or just joking around. We’ve developed a sense when to spend our time like this and when to be fully focused on work. As far as differences of opinions are concerned, they are generally welcomed by us as they often breed new and better ideas.
How do you both overcome creative roadblocks? What inspires you to keep creating?
We try not to place too much pressure on ourselves and recognise that our main responsibility is to simply show up for our goals, make time, and be available for receiving ideas from our mind(s). If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. And if it does we hit record and start the work. We take it as our responsibility towards the music scene of Pakistan and by extension, the sub-continent. We want to become the musicians we wish we could look up to while growing up in Pakistan. That is what inspires us to keep creating.
If you could change anything about Pakistan’s music industry, what would it be and why?
We wish there were more artist tours and themed concerts in Pakistan and not just events where artists are simply booked to perform as on external events. Themed concert tours are so important to really allow an artist to express themselves, establish their brand, and overall nurture the music culture of their city/country. We have full intention to play our part in changing this and hope to see all our industry peers do the same.
‘We take it as our responsibility towards the music scene of Pakistan and by extension, the sub-continent. We want to become the musicians we wish we could look up to while growing up in Pakistan’ - Roshaan
How would you describe your journey so far? What do you hope to achieve as being a musical duo in the near future?
To avoid any complacency, we truly believe that our journey as musical artists has only now finally begun. In the near future we hope to become the next music act to become the talk of the entire subcontinent.
Lastly, what message would you like to give your fans?
Many people will claim to know who you are, but only you can truly answer that question.
INTERVIEW: SAFA ADNAN
STYLIST: NAEL HAFEEZ
GROOMING: TONI&GUY, LAHORE
PHOTOGRAPHY: YRATTA MEDIA