When and why did you start making music?
"I’ve been writing songs since I was in elementary school, just as a hobby. Of course, they got much better over the years and in high school I wrote songs that could actually be performed. I started making music with the intention of publishing them around September of 2017, shortly after I was abducted. I wrote a song to an instrumental I found online and called it “Sunscreen”. My roommate walked in on me singing the song and secretly recorded it, then forwarded it to our mutual friends so that all of them could come together to push me to make more music. I relented, and I’m very happy that I did."
Who has influenced you the most?
"My biggest musical influence would have to be Eminem, as I can’t picture a better lyricist than that one. In terms of the way my music sounds, however, I’d have to point to Jaden Smith as my main source of inspiration."
Why have they influenced you the most?
"Jaden Smith’s latest album has not left my mind since it came out. His songs are unbelievably catchy and they never get old. I want my art to live the way his does."
What are you aiming for with your music?
"Ideally, I want to share a story with and entertain everyone else. I never meant to depress anybody by revealing the true nature of the album and the context in which it was produced, but it was incredibly cathartic for me to finally tell people what happened in that chapter of my life."
What’s your musical background?
"I don’t actually have any musical background — in middle school, my parents wanted me to take violin lessons, but I never did very well with them. I’ve taught myself instrument I can play today, and I started learning them one at a time starting three years ago."
Where did you grow up? How has it influenced the music you make?
"I grew up in Chicago, Illinois, in a community called “Devon”. It was primarily inhabited by South Asian immigrants who played a lot of Bollywood and Indian music, so some of my songs are influenced by that style, even though I’ve never particularly even enjoyed that genre."
Would you describe yourself as “trying to make it” in the music industry?
"Absolutely. If I “make it”, that means all the more people will know who I am and what I’ve done. I’ve always wanted to share my art with the world. I’ve also always wanted to be a philanthropist and do some good in the world with whatever fame I may garner."
If you’re “trying to make it,” what do you define as “making it”? What’s the perfect life you can envision reaching through “making it” with your music?
"To me, “making it” means successfully being remembered by the general population. It’s not about the money as much as it is about the art for me — I want my art to be profound enough to ring through history for as long as it can."
What’s your favorite album of all time?
"Oh man, that’s a tough one. I’m going to say “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” by Panic! at the Disco for now.
I’ll tweet an update if I can think of any album I like better."
What was your favorite album in 2018?
"Jaden Smith’s album “SYRE” came out in 2017, but I’m going to pretend it came out in 2018 because it rocked my entire year. So “SYRE” was my favorite album of 2018."
What was your favorite song in 2018?
"My favorite song of all time — every day, every month, every year — is “Human Sadness” by the Voidz. It’s just the prettiest song I’ve ever heard. Specifically for 2018, though, my second favorite was “Thunder” by Roy Blair."
How often and for how long do you practice?
"I practice constantly, since I can’t stay idle without boring myself to death. I always have an instrument in my hands when I’m at home, and lately I’ve been home a lot."
What do you see as the main obstacle standing in your way from getting where you want to go?
"There are a few. I think it’s too true that “video killed the radio star”. My 5 foot 7 inch butt may not make it very far because of that. I’m also very, very Muslim, and I have a feeling that would get in the way of me reaching my goals."