Bangalore-based Kashmiri singer Aabha Hanjura believes that music chooses you

Aabha Hanjura, who hails from Kashmir, wants to take the music of her land to the world and her latest album Aabha And The Sound Of Kashmir is just the first step.

“There’s a lot of music around us. Everybody is doing same thing, people are used to listening to bass or guitar. I wanted to create a rustic sound,” says Aabha, who has been working on finding her sound since she finished in the finals in Indian Idol-2.

“It’s strange I found the answer in the place I belong to. In the past Kashmir has not been known for the right reasons. If tomorrow I find one person who doesn’t know the language humming the song, I will consider that a success”.

Aabha’s album is a mix of multi-lingual music, Rajasthani, Sufi, Sindhi, Punjabi Sufi or Thumri, at the backdrop of Kashmiri sound. She has only just released the first song in her album, her interpretation of a Punjabi folk song titled ‘Kitthe Nain Na Jodi’.

The song recently debuted on radio and a music video is on the offing. The rest of her album will be released song-by-song.

“Once I selected my songs, I had to find the right people to associate with. Last December, I decided to go to Kashmir and find some musicians to work on my album. And I did find musicians to play the old Kashmiri instruments like the Rabab, Kashmiri Sarangi and Kashmiri Santoor. Finding a studio in a place like Kashmir was challenging but a lot of fun”.

Aabha believes that she has finally found her sound in Sufi and a little over a year ago, she formed her band “Sufistication”.

“Sufi is the music I have grown up with, the music works for me. It makes me feel connected to God. The Sufi fakirs and saints wrote powerful lyrics on popular tales like Heer Ranjha. These are then given their own interpretations by artistes,” explains Aabha, who has been learning Hindustani classical music.

“That’s how culture is preserved, that’s how a genre is carried forward. I have grown up listening to ghazals and Sufi music, I believe lyrics are backbone of music. If the words are not powerful, it doesn’t do it for me”. And Sufi music offers a treasure trove of powerful music for Aabha, who says she is yet to find someone who writes so powerfully today.

“It’s what comes to me. My voice, tonal quality, the way I sing and emote, is all Sufi. Music always chooses you, you don’t choose music. It finds its way into your life. That’s what happened to me,” she explains. “But I want to learn other genres. Sufi is my basic sound, but I also enjoy other genres like jazz, funk, pop”.

Through her album, Aabha also hopes to reach out a wide audience, though she acknowledges that it is not easy for independent artists to establish themselves.

“I will do playback singing and commercial music, but this is what pleases me. First you have to be satisfied that this is what you really like. I’m young, I know that if it excites me, it can excite others like me. I have packaged the album in a way that people will like”.

“The idea is not to do Sufi music and be heard by people who like Sufi music. The idea is to do Sufi music and have the youth like it. Albums have to stay in people’s minds, songs have to live through. It has to have sustainable sound that you can carry forward for the next few years”.