Band Name: Shehzad Bhanji – Instrumental Rock Guitarist
Person Interviewing: Shehzad Bhanji
Narrated by critics as “an extraordinary instrumental guitarist who can make his instrument sing with unparalleled purity”, Shehzad Bhanji has taken the melodic instrumentals to new levels of production.
Based in Doha, Qatar, Shehzad’s unusual melodic and fusion approach to his instrumentals and songs expand its harmonic limits and improvisational possibilities.
Shehzad has released three albums to date and endorses 5 brands. He is currently engaged in several experimental projects such as electronic fusion rock instrumental, international language songs, background scores for short films and documentaries, all recorded at his SB-43 Studio in Qatar. He has been featured in several leading magazines such as Rolling Stone, Jamsphere, Planet Rock along with a host of music blogs and podcasts from around the world.
Shehzad’s perspective of producing instrumentals is simple i.e. it should take listeners on a journey, expressing the feeling of that moment. He uses instrumentals that force an emotional connection with its listeners. Every melody, every beautiful texture, every blend of sound narrates a story that takes the listeners on a unique inner journey.
Song name: Matched Hearts
Music Genre:: Instrumental Rock
Matched Hearts’ is an anthem that describes deep and intimate love as two people’s hearts being in sync with each other. The song is about celebrating the different moments that come with love unedited and completely raw: from moments of desperation to moments of pure bliss.
The song has a strong connection with my life and my journey with my wife. The track is melodic, soft and easy to listen. Something you would like to listen to when you are sitting in the evening with your partner, or while reading, having a coffee or just trying to chill after a long day.
Who have been the most influential in your music and why?
I’ve listened to so many guitarists from various genres, but Joe Satriani has been my source of inspiration. For reasons unknown his music reached out and grabbed me. I don’t think anyone can explain why they have a direct link with particular artists. But you know it when you hear it—the sound that they make just somehow touches you.
And as a guitar player and a professional musician, I’m stunned at how revolutionary his playing is, how he took the rich history of music that he grew up with and used it in such an original way. You hear pure instrumental rock, a bit of blues and jazz, the excitement with how to manipulate equipment, which was quite new at the time and a dedication to a new way of thinking.
When did you know that this was the right path for you?
It all started with a New Year resolution that my wife and I made to each other, who is my strongest supporter and critic. I embarked upon my debut album project in January 2015 (after two decades) intending to finish the recording by end of the year.
Initially, I was a bit skeptical about the whole thing. Times had changed in terms of recording technology, sound, music marketing, distribution, etc. And on top that I’m a one crazy guy planning to make an instrumental rock album. I recall when I shared my tracks with few producers and their first reaction was… who is this guy who is crazy enough to play instrumental rock guitar music in a world dominated by hip-hop and pop? What would he call himself?
But honestly, as an artist, you got to believe in yourself and move forward. You also need believers i.e. family and friends to keep you going and telling you to ignore any negativity around you. After all, it’s about going with the story of the song. “The idea is that by the time the song ends, hopefully, you’re exhaling and you’re going, ‘Oh man, what a wild ride that was’. I want to spark some kind of imagination in people, so they can relate their own story to it. I don’t want people always thinking, ‘Is he playing enough notes?’, or ‘Is he picking upstrokes or downstrokes?’ If you get stuck on it, that stuff will drive you mad, eventually.” So be innovative compositionally and then try not to overplay unless the composition called for it and make every note count.
What do you like most about what you do?
I think that instrumental music always has its place because there’s nobody’s telling you what the song is about. That leaves your imagination free to associate your story with what it is, and you can make it about whatever you want. This is the freedom that instrumental music has always held for people – it gives them the ability to write their stories into it.
So I wake up in the morning and I’ll have a feeling about a place or somebody or something that happened to me. I might read something or bump into somebody and some feelings will hit me and I go with the inspiration. If I want to write a song about summer coming and I’m driving in a convertible, I’m going to write a summer song or if I have bought a new car, I would like to write a song to express my happiness. That’s my true passion: simply to write music around what I experience in life.
But the biggest difference between an instrumentalist is that there are no geographical boundaries. I simply hand over my instrumentals to the audience, and they are free to associate any feeling with it they like.
What do you most hope to accomplish with your influence?
Everybody listens to music for various reasons. I always wanted to produce instrumentals that provide an escape to the listeners. The world needs an escape. I know I do. I never put on music to remind me of how terrible the world is. I put on music to make me feel good or to make me forget what is happening, something that puts me in this great place.
What is the biggest obstacle you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest obstacle was to prepare and convince me to come back to music after two decades of a break. It was tough since the industry has gone through so many changes starting from production technologies, distribution, digital and social media platforms, fan engagement and marketing. It was difficult to adapt and learn about them.
But luckily, my educational background helped me in overcoming them.
What do you want people to remember most about you and your career?
A melodic instrumental guitarist whose melodies have touched their hearts.
What are you most looking forward to this next month?
I’m extremely excited about the coming months. My music video of Matched Hearts will release, The video has been shot in Nuremberg, Germany and it’s looking very cool. There are other music videos lined up as well along with collaborative projects with likeminded artists. The new album promotion will start from next week so it will be a hectic but fulfilling experience.
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