A heartbroken teenager wrote ‘Udhero Na’: Arooj Aftab

Grammy winning Brooklyn-based Pakistani singer, composer, and producer, Arooj Aftab gave it her all at the Grammys premiere ceremony held on Sunday in Los Angeles.

The artist became the first Pakistani singer to have taken the Recording Academy stage. She performed her Grammy nominated song, Udhero Na, alongside Anoushka Shankar. But prior to this, Arooj interacted with the Rolling Stone magazine on the red carpet.

Reflecting on how her year’s been since winning the highest honour in music, Arooj also opened up about everything that’s changed or remained the same since she wrote her Grammy-nominated song, Udhero Na, some 15 years ago. The singer also spoke about her experience of working with only women on the song and of course, her collaboration with renowned Indian sitarist, Anoushka Shankar.

“It’s been a year to your Grammy, what did you learn and what’s it been like,” inquired the representative. “I’ve learned a lot, I’ve toured a lot, and the Grammy looks really nice on my bookshelf,” chuckled the singer. “There’s a bit of vanity and a bit of niceness to the essence of music itself now that there’s this acknowledgment, after having received the highest accolade in the World for music. So, it’s just a big swirl. And it’s back,” she noted.

The journalist reinstated, “And you’re nominated again!” Arooj bragged, “Back-to-back,” laughing. Acknowledging Udhero Na was written 15 years ago, the interviewer asked, “So, who was Arooj then and who’s Arooj now? And what do they have in common or are they completely different people?”

The singer replied, “Arooj then was a heartbroken teenager and I’m really thankful for having had that kind of sentiment that pushes you to pour out your feelings and write some soft, gentle, heavy metal beast you know, that has stood the test of time. And it’s still, apparently, a good song… a grammy award winning or nominated song. And I’m still the same person, I’m emo, loving. I love heartbreak, I think sadness really is a pure and beautiful emotion and I channel that a lot in my music. So, it’s all going well although since I’m more mature, no one can break my heart now. But yeah, that’s the difference.”

About what made her release Udhero Na as a bonus track on her album, Vulture Prince, Arooj recalled, “I’d been playing it live for such a long time and always loved it but it had never been recorded. So, when I was releasing Vulture Prince, it was the perfect bonus track. And now that it’s out, it’s getting its flowers.

As for recruiting Anoushka to play the sitar, and having the experience of creating a song of such range and magnitude with a powerful female collaboration, Arooj reflected, “There are only women in this song and that too, only four people, so it’s such a powerful song coming from such minimalism. And coming from the range, the dynamic range that female musicians have, it’s quite a statement.”

Praising the Indian sitarist, Arooj added, “Anoushka’s such an incredible musician, she transcends the sitar you know. She’s a legend. So, [her playing] is kind of like the sprinkled magic fairy dust on top and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

When asked about her preparation before taking the stage with Anoushka to open the Grammys, the Mohabbat hitmaker remarked, “We’re just going to do it! We’re just going to go up there and do it!”

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Originally published at tribune.com.pk

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