Haider Omar Talks to HELLO! About What Drives Him And The Toll That The Pandemic Has Had On Musicians
I’m a 19 year old musician from Lahore. My interest in music started as a casual hobby, playing my father’s old keyboard. I ended up taking keyboard classes when I was just ten years old. Eventually, I made the transition from a keyboardist, to a pianist, and just 2-3 years ago, I started singing as well.
What sort of music did you grow up listening to and what are you listening to these days?
I grew up listening to bands like Maroon 5, Coldplay, The Script, The Fray, Linkin Park, and artists like Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Adam Levine, and Charlie Puth. I believe all of these artists helped develop my sense of music, and my general taste in music. These days however, I listen to a little bit of everything - my daily playlist consists of a lot of Pakistani music - from Strings and Noori, to upcoming / underground talents like Salar Shamas, Omar Mukhtar, and Kashmir.
Do you have a particular instrument that you particularly like? Do you consider yourself a singer first or a musician?
I’m an all rounder when it comes to music - since I grew up playing the piano, I have 13 years of experience as a pianist - but I recently also learnt the guitar, and most importantly, transitioned into becoming a music producer. Music production comes with a little bit of everything, so you have to be a jack of all trades to be good at it.
What made you want to establish your own label? Do you have an artists signed on to your label?
I haven’t opened my own record label as of yet, and I don’t plan on doing so, I’m more than happy with the label I am currently signed to, ‘Shamas-Kaari’, they’re my second family. A venture I have started though, is ‘Dream Big Productions’. Dream Big, is a production house that I have opened, the main aim of which is to help young talents put their music out there. I myself feel, that when I was at that high school phase, I had so many songs and tunes stuck in my head, but no outlet, to help me get the music out there and compete with the industry. My aim is to remove that barrier for young musicians, providing them with industry standard music production at extremely affordable rates, its my way of giving back.
A number of young musicians like yourself these days manage to promote themselves by putting their music out on the internet? Where does this leave record labels and why would anyone sign on to a label when they can just self promote?
One of things I loathe about the music industry, and something I struggled with a lot coming into it, is the fact that the entire music scene is run by a ‘producer mafia’. The amount of good producers we have Pakistan is scarce, whereas talent is everywhere. I personally, could not find anyone to produce my music below 50,000 PKR, when I was looking to get my songs produced, and at that time, that was something I could really not afford at all. The fact that musicians are putting themselves out there, standing on their own two feet, without any labels, is amazing. It will help put an end to this mafia, and will help showcase upcoming talent.
The global pandemic has changed so many things, how do you think global lockdowns and the fact that a large number of people do not have work is going to change the way people think about a career in music and also how they spend their money on music?
Personally, as a musician, my income from music did take a hit, as there were no live shows or gigs. More importantly, most of us don’t do this for the money, we do it because were passionate about it, and being deprived of live audiences took a toll on a large number of musicians. If anything though, I think lockdown and quarantine made people realise how much we take concerts, gigs and shows for granted. Our music industry deserves a lot more attention, and I hope that with time, it gets what has been long deserved.
What advice would you give to young musicians trying to get their name out there?
Don’t do it for the money! Do it because you love it. Money will come and go, but your passion is something that will always stay with you, and will drive you to do better. I see so many artists, changing their personna, and throwing away their morals just to fit in. If that’s what you have to do to become something, trust me, it isn’t worth it. I’m the same person I was when I had a 100 streams, and hadn’t made a penny, and I am the same person, with the same morals, 2 million streams, and a whole lot of money later.
What are your long terms goals? What do you see yourself doing in the coming decade?
I don’t really think or plan that much into the future, but one thing I’m sure of, is that no matter where life takes me, I will never stop putting my music out there. As long as there is one person, who waits for me to drop my next track, who listens to my music and relates to it, I will keep on doing what I do. Apart from that, we’ll see where life takes me, because a year ago, if you’d tell me that I’d end up getting over two million streams, would put my art out there, have people love it, and would make money off of it, I would’ve laughed - but I guess, it’s only upwards from here - expect a lot more from me, I’ll always keep pushing my boundaries, and will always be trying to do better.