Ans: Well, I was born in Islamabad. Moved to Canada when I was about 5, came back at 11. It was a bit of a trip because when living abroad you really have to fend for yourself. I saw the changes in my parents, both positive and negative due to the fact that everything wasn’t being handed to us anymore. My family consists of diplomats and business men so living in Pakistan was always a comfortable experience. Canada taught all of us the value of a dollar and personally taught me nothing in life is permanent. It’s here today and gone tomorrow, make the most of it. As far as education goes, never took it too seriously. Which was a mistake.
2. When did you start developing an interest in pursuing music? Why did you choose the genre rap specifically?
Ans: I still remember hearing a rap song on the radio for the first time when I was around 6 or 7, I think it was either Holiday Inn or Right Thurr by Chingy. 100 percent sure it was Chingy though. It was so catchy and different, and coming from a household where music was confined in a box of 80’s pop and whatever was on the radio in the late 90’s, it was a culture shock. I was so used to my parents playing Sting and Junoon or seeing the Backstreet Boys on TV I didn’t know how many different kinds of music were in rotation in the west. So by the time I was 9 I gave it a shot. Initially I would sing R&B, but rap was always where my heart was. I picked up the guitar and drums and listened to a lot of rock after coming back to Islamabad but I didn’t get the same rush. I guess my singing voice went to shit because of excessive smoking and puberty, but it was a blessing in disguise. By the time I hit 16, I started going after it.
3. What have been your musical influences?
Ans: In terms of what influences me, I’ve always been drawn to music that can touch my soul. As cliché as that sounds, I’m addicted to the feeling of nostalgia and my mind wanders. So if a song can either put me back in a time where things were more peaceful or make me feel like I’m apart of another universe, I’m influenced. I take those sounds, filter them in my head and come up with my own sound based off that. I’ve been listening to Exile on Mainstreet by the Rolling Stones these days which is my go to album in terms of musical arrangement. The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie puts me in a place these days too. It all depends on vibes. In terms of writing raps, I get influenced by raw talent that pushes me to be better. Listening to a rapper named Dave East these days, he’s signed to Nas. Really pushed me to get back on the lyrical side of things. And the song-writing process, I write based off personal experiences and draw influence off that.
4. What hip-hop artists did you grow up listening to?
Ans: When I was younger I listened to a lot of southern rap because that’s what was popular in North America. You had Chingy, Jeezy, Joc, T.I. and all of them. My dad was a huge 50 cent fan, bought Get Rich or Die Trying when I was about 8 and exposed me to that side of hip-hop. Mom bought late registration by Kanye West. Then there was Tupac, who I had an unhealthy obsession with after watching a documentary on the murders of Tupac and Biggie. I was more drawn to Tupac as an activist and human being though. You could say he was a role model. But when I heard the Message by Nas my life changed. I was just like ‘okay this is what I was born to do. I was born to give people the same feeling of amazement these guys gave me’. It was like Mick Jagger when he heard Heartbreak Hotel for the first time. My world went from black and white to multi-colored. But as I started doing research and studying albums Jay-Z, old Eminem, Outkast and Wu-tang clan had a huge impact on me in terms of mainstream rappers.
5. What would be your dream collaboration with any rapper or producer?
Ans: In terms of producers, Dr. Dre or Timbaland most definitely. That’s what I grew up on, those guys are the benchmark. Pharell is a guy I’d love to work with too. He’s so outside of the box and weird I’d love to see what we could make together. Rick Rubin as well based off the way he looks at music and his experience in the game. Rappers, well I’d love to work with someone who can push me to the brink. In terms of verses, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Andre 3000 and J. Cole can literally kill anyone and anything when they get on a beat, from the currently active rappers. I’d like to see how I could compete with them. They’d probably wipe the floor with me since rap is so competitive but it’s a challenge. In terms of just getting on a song with my heroes, if I do a track with Nas or Jay-Z my life would be complete. It’s always been my dream to be signed to Jay.
6. What do you think your listeners will get out of your music?
Ans: I couldn’t tell you that straight up. I just hope it makes them think. I hope my music is an experience to them opposed to some elevator music they play in the background as they reach their destination. One thing I can say though, is that they’ll get a full body of work open for interpretation. They’re allowed to form their own opinions.
7. What do you hope to do with your music?
Ans: I want people to spark a change. I want to show that just because we’re in a country where the market is saturated by censored, bubble gum music that we can still express ourselves however we want to. I don’t want to sell out. People keep on telling me to, because it’s the easy way out but easy is boring. I want people to be themselves at all costs, and forget about society’s expectations. I want to show reality, while showing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not about what I hope for it’s about inspiring hope. You all can dramatically clap now.
8. What is your vision for your songs? What message are you trying to send?
Ans: It varies from song to song, but in the bigger picture all I’m trying to do is send a message of positivity. It’s okay to feel bad, it’s okay to express your emotions without the constant fear of being judged. A lot of my music comes across as dark but if people paid attention they’d see that the fact that a low life junkie could come out of his version of hell and follow his dreams is as inspirational as it gets. Sometimes I make songs that aren’t too serious, sometimes I just want to have fun with it. My vision is to make it to the top. And I might sound borderline delusional when I say I’m already climbing and it’s just a matter of time.
9. Can you please share an insight of your upcoming EP Poderi? What can listeners expect from it?
Ans: Poderi is dedicated to my friend who passed away two years ago. He was one of my oldest friends and I took him for granted. Poderi is about how short life can be. Him and I used to do heroin together if I’m being honest. I quit in 2012 and so did he. Heroin addiction is a vicious cycle, it’s poison disguised as medicine, it’s an escape for those who can’t deal with their problems. It makes the weak weaker. He relapsed eventually so I cut him off. I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I couldn’t see all my friends ruin themselves anymore so I’d walk away selfishly. However, he did eventually quit. He left for the States and got his life in order as far as I know. He looked healthier in his pictures, he was happy. I spoke to him about one of my songs called ‘Take It to The Head’ briefly. I’d always send him my tracks and get feedback from him. He was sincere, no BS when it came to his opinions. I released Take It to The Head and about a week or two later, he was gone. No goodbyes no nothing. I couldn’t digest it. I still haven’t to be honest. I feel like he’s still here. Imagine, you quit something that’s been holding you back for so many years just to meet your maker. It’s a trip. I could be gone tomorrow and things could be left unsaid. You could be gone tomorrow without telling your family you love them, the girl you love how much you want her, without leaving your mark. And what stops us? False pride. Ego. Apathy. ‘I can do it tomorrow.’ Can you though? Live in the moment. Do what you feel is right. Live without fear because my brother Saad Salim died because of black ice while driving. This EP is gonna be me talking from the perspective of what I used to be, and what he used to be. And show what I can become and what he would’ve become.
10. What are your thoughts on the current state of Pakistan’s music industry?
Ans: Cringe worthy. No originality. We’ve lost our touch. Nusrat would be rolling in his grave. If I have to hear another plagiarized piece of trash I’ll break my laptop. Coke Studio is the only thing worth anything and even that’s losing it’s charm. And the sad part is, all the talented, creative artists go unnoticed. Why? We’re too busy trying to be something else. I might sound like a hypocrite since I make ‘black music’ and wear a chain and earring, but I’m really not. I don’t need to explain myself the music will do the talking.
11. Do you make your own beats and write your own lyrics? If yes what software or equipment do you prefer using? If you don’t do any of this by yourself, how do you get this done?
Ans: Yes, I do both. Produced and written by. I’ll always write my own songs no matter what, but I’d be willing to work with other producers if we have that chemistry. I like being in full control of my music though. I know my vision so it’s difficult for me to convey that to someone else. The software I use is Logic Pro X. Really hands on, great for sampling too. I have an M-Audio keystation I use for all my beats. Literally everything is done on the computer, nothing too special. So I take care of that aspect and go to the studio once it’s done. The mixing and mastering is usually done by Shaheer Shahid or Sami Mian. Both great at what they do. Any aspiring artists should get in touch with them.
12. Which latest songs, videos or singles are currently available to your fans and where can they be heard or downloaded?
Ans: All of my music is up on soundcloud right now. So if anyone wants to check it out they should look up Mikki Murshed on soundcloud, like Mikki Murshed on facebook and follow mikkimurshed on Instagram for updates.
13. What aspect of the music making process excites you most, and what aspect discourages you the most?
Ans: Definitely the ability to work on new sounds and go outside the box. That’s what’s most exciting to me. Once you’re in the zone it’s hard to get out. I personally become a hermit. In terms of what discourages me, nothing really does. I fully understand that this line of work comes with blocks of creativity, I’ve been able to cope with the frustration of not getting my music heard, so I don’t let it get to me anymore. I have so much faith in my music and my ability to be a star that nothing can discourage me at this point.
14. Do you think the advent of internet and all the new technology has helped your music and independent musicians in general?
Ans: The internet has helped musicians by leaps and bounds. It’s a way to get your music heard, a way to generate a fan base, a way to learn about your craft. Only if you use it correctly though. Promotion is as easy as it’s ever been because of technology.
15. What message would you like to send out for Ink readers?
Ans: Stay true to yourself. Don’t live life based off what other people want. Love more, fight less and let go of your ego. It’ll kill you. Let go of what hurts you because if life isn’t permanent, how can your pain be? Life is too short to care so much. Be happy. No matter who it pisses off. And last but not least, support your local artists. I’ve already hit you with all the clichés in the book so might as well plug Poderi, out April 15th.