What better way for a hardcore musician fan of late legend Michael Jackson to keep his oeuvre alive than, in the words of its founder, to “transform the music genius of Michael Jackson into hardcore rock”? That is exactly what the Atif did and we met the band’s founder to know more about their new release on the day he celebrates MJ’s birthday in New-York! He talks to us about his new release and getting Bryan Adams’ guitar!
1inmusic; First of all, there are many musician fans who cover Michael Jackson songs. What is unique about YOUR Michael Jackson (MJ) tribute band?
The Atif: I would say my sound is indie rock. It’s unique in the sense that I transformed the music genius of Michael Jackson into hardcore rock. Something that musicians often overlook, citing that MJ was rather an entertainer and not just a musical artist. I transcribed his music and imported it into rock riffs and testified it with live drum grooves. And now people can decide how much I have succeeded in this endeavour.
1inMusic: What shaped your music and who supports you?
The Atif: Essentially I am a pop rock musician with inclinations to hard and indie rock. These are driving forces behind my motivation for music. Supports me is all around me- how music is progressing in the light of technology and how we can purely amalgamate it with the live essence. I look for the live vibe in a technology ridden music world of today.
I came to this realization when I listened to Bryan Adams’ latest album. He just doesn’t sound the same on hard disc as compared to spools of analogue records. Somewhere along the lines we need to find the balance of sonic depth and dynamic range- the kind we hear in AC/DC’s Black Ice.
1inmusic: When did you realise you were going to make music professionally?
The Atif: Music was my best form of expression after poetry. I always wanted inspiration from the environment- so right now I am living the festivity of MJs birthday today in New-York. The way MJ mentioned the Big Apple in his song Human Nature and this city’s fascination with his works is just commendable. You can hear Billie Jean almost every five blocks. People miss him, like I did and created this Rock Tribute.
As for making a decision of picking it professionally- that was the thing I best loved doing. But with aesthetic feel driven touch not just technique. I have a side profession of being an advertising writer- so I guess for me it’s a win-win scenario. I decided all this when I got my first job as Copywriter and I knew I could pursue music professionally all along. So my stress has always been on creativity and not jumping on the bubble-gum commercial pop wagon, thanks to the internet (it diminished the MTv syndrome). Music IS going back to roots with the ability to gain reception through world wide web.
1inmusic: What type of music do you listen to?
The Atif: I listen to everything- right now you will find AC/DC, The Darkness, SOAD, Limp Bizkitt, RATM and LP on my iPhone for my workouts. And from new stuff I like Gotye coz he sounds like Sting. But then I keep exploring new artists on You Tube and hearing evergreen classics like Sting, George Michael, Madonna- those who have stood the test of time. U2, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, GnR, Metallica are in everybody’s iPhones I guess. Oh ya last but not least Queen.
1inmusic: Who, to you, is the most undervalued music artist?
The Atif: I would say The Darkness, a great singer and of course the eternal Jeff Buckley. I could spend rest of my life with just one available Jeff Buckley record. Grace is my refuge of melancholy.
1inmusic: First MJ now Jeff Buckley, I think we like you a lot 😉 How do you prepare for your performances?
The Atif: I make a playlist considering my audience. I jam them in order and then improvise- feeling the pulse of the crowd. I am a big fan of Bryan Adams unplugged and live performances- and it became unforgettable as he gave me his guitar plectrum in Cape Town, South Africa after one of his upclose and personal Bare Bones Tour shows.
1inmusic: Wow, talk about inspirational! What ignites your (song) writing flow?
The Atif: It has been changing over the time. It is more importantly about the strength of emotion and the force of calling. As Cold Play’s singer Chris Martin says- the song must come to you. It comes sub consciously, I say.
1inmusic: What do you do when you don’t do music (creative or otherwise) and that you are passionate about?
The Atif: I like making films. Ads and music videos and You Tube promos.
1inmusic: Success to you is…
The Atif: … to be able to create something and let it relate with sensitive people. That, to me, makes the process tangible and that it means something.
1inmusic: What do you wish you have been told when you started out and that you think would help anyone who starts out?
The Atif: “Be original- as much as possible. That’s how you will contribute to the progress or development of art, science and business of music”- all else is me too. And that is for me a compromise.
1inmusic: Any upcoming projects?
The Atif: Yes, I will be starting out soon with my second MJ Tributes album with a bigger surprise and bang for the buck.
1inmusic: Great! Before we part, tell us how the Atif all started since we are on MJ’s birthday and where to find the music
The Atif: It all started a week before MJ died (and on this birthday of his in 2015). He was never more alive- I know his art was soaking and heart was bleeding when he died. But he lives in all of us- through the ears of yesterday, today and tomorrow. The generations who have never witnessed his magic still live out and look out for his charisma.
Me, Kashan Admani and Alfred D’Mello initiated this project with Billie Jean in Pakistan. And MJ’s sudden death has given us worldwide acclaim, fame and reception with open arms. People can’t believe what we achieved through our production ideas and sonic understanding. Although it is only the tip of the ice-berg, we hope to share this ode with the whole world.
Thanks to Team 1inMusic- MJ was indeed and will remain 1inMusic.
That’s the spirit! Thank YOU for this interview The Atif and for your contribution to keeping the legend alive!