Ismailimail audience is familiar with the young and talented Junaid Alam and his friend DJ Ghasury (Saqlain Saleem) of Gilgit-Baltistan. It is no secret that their music transcends international boundaries and languages. Their humble beginnings, and the inspiration they received, were through the local community and its youth development programs. In this exclusive interview with Ismailimail, you will learn how Junaid surmounted the natural challenges to find his calling, and how Saqlain receives sustenance through his creativity.
The God-given natural talent of these two young individuals led us to check with the world renowned music composers Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, for their views. Here is what Salim Merchant said in his exclusive message to Ismailimail:
“Junaid is extremely talented & passionate about music. His voice has a magical quality & innocence that expresses and touches one’s heart. At such a young age, he’s got the dedication and passion for his art and I wish him all the best for the future which I know is very bright!”
Ismailimail: Tell us about yourselves, your home, your family.
I am Junaid Alam from Nasirabad, Hunza. My family moved from Hunza to Gilgit City for the purpose of me and my sibling’s quality education when we were young. Shina is the language spoken in our households.
I was born and raised in Gilgit-Baltistan (Khanabad, Hunza). I have lived most of my life between the mighty mountains of northern areas of Pakistan. Our history is one of stories that founded the culture of Hunza which is renowned all over the world. From our traditional food to local dance, our heritage is one of the most significant pieces of jigsaw for the development of Hunza culture.
Ismailimail: What are you studying? What do you aspire to become in the future?
I currently go to Aga Khan Higher School Gilgit and I am giving SSC-II affiliated with AKU-EB. I see myself as a popular singer in the next 5 to 10 years. I want to dedicate my life to art and I would like to express my feelings and emotions through my singing.
I have studied pre-engineering from Aga Khan Higher Secondary Gilgit. I wish to become an artist that appreciates the beauty of our local music and highlight that beauty with Electronic Dance Music.
Ismailimail: When did you realised that you wanted to take up music and singing?
The first moment when I realised I had singing potential was at a Youth Camp arranged by Aga Khan Youth & Sports Board Pakistan (AKYSB,P). After getting selected through interview process from Gilgit, I was off to Islamabad where the camp was held. The camp’s name was BHYC (Broadening Horizons Youth Camp) and its motto is ‘Discover Yourself’. The youth in this camp were from all over Pakistan and it was a 7-day camp; it had a lot of interesting and fun activities. ‘Talent Night’ was one of them and I participated in it because I knew I was always confined by my low self-confidence. This time I said to myself ‘Let’s do this!’ I sang a song of Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa ‘See You Again’. After singing the whole song, everyone in the audience gave me a standing ovation and that was literally the moment when I thought I am going to take up singing!
There wasn’t any specific moment that made me realise that I wanted to choose music as my career. Music has always been in my soul and it has always ignited my spark to create what I felt. It allowed me to express my emotions to the world in different frequencies. Whenever I am working on my art it feels I am supposed to do this and I don’t feel any stress or tiredness; it’s just blank world, me and music.
Ismailimail: Who are your inspirations in your life and in your art?
My aspirations have altered my life in a very positive way. Charlie Puth is one the artists who is very original and has an incredible voice; he is a record producer and also a songwriter. In life, the man who has always been my inspiration is my Dad, he supported me in my art and in every downfall; he gave me the courage to get up.
I have always been inspired by the artists who create unique content like Martin Garrix and who are not afraid to do something new like Skrillex. They inspire me to do something out of the box.
Ismailimail: Do you do any volunteering and social work?
I am a boy scout and have done two badges and some proficiency badges. Also, I am a Shaheen Scout leader at my Jamatkhana. I teach the young scouts about respecting elders and ethics that you should follow in Jamatkhana.
I volunteer in social work in my region. I am the coordinator of my local AKYSB area committee and I have conducted many exciting events in my Jamatkhana. I have been working with my team on other new exciting projects that will contribute to the welfare of youth. I have contributed through my art such as photography skills, in an attempt to help my community.
Interview compilation and coordination: Arif Ali