Music can erase all barriers: Rohail Hyatt


Rohail Hyatt is not only the man behind the famous Coke Studio, but also one of the finest musicians in Pakistan today.
Hyatt has consciously tried to be away from the media, so when our reporter tried to get in touch with him over the phone, we were told that he would avoid giving interviews.
But things looked very different when we actually caught up with him at his studio residence in the Defence Housing Authority in Karachi.
He warmly welcomed us and spoke at length about his musical journey, rediscovering eastern classical music and the promotion of upcoming talented singers in Pakistan.
Sitting relaxed in his studio room, Hyatt looked cool in his orange tee and shorts. He took us around his studio and pointed out that things were scattered all around, as work was in progress.
“The entire team is busy with the post-production work of the Coke Studio Season 5 collection. Just a few days left for the new season to be released. Most probably, the promo should begin from the first week of the next month and it should be on air by mid-May,” he said.
Hyatt said that it was untrue that he tries to avoid the media. Too much work stress does not leave him any time to socialise or give interviews, he explained.
Talking about his musical journey, he said that it has been a long one. He strongly believes that you would do whatever it takes to achieve that which you want the most in your life.
“I was totally from a different era of music. I remember when I started playing music, I was more influenced with the western kind,” he said.
He had no idea about the kind of music in Pakistan. However, he added, the popularity of listening to western music did not click much among the general mass in Pakistan.
“It was only after I left my band ‘Vital Signs’ that I realised exploring the music industry in Pakistan and more. And Coke Studio was the way to reinvent and rediscover the field of music here,” he said.
Today, he said, Coke Studio is transcending societal barriers to reinvent itself. It is almost like a palette of raw talents with uniqueness, he added.
Hyatt said, “Coke Studio has become a global name and is not only popular in Pakistan, but also in other regions. We are pleased to see the overwhelming response of audience from all over the globe. Hence, we have tried to create new, innovative kind of music in every season.”
Talking about the idea of rediscovering and exploring new talents in Pakistan, he said, “I have explored all boundaries. We have picked up raw talents from all corners, from musicians to singers.”
The main philosophy of Coke Studio, he said, is based on eastern values; hence, “we have tried to revive the old traditional songs and Sufi songs into modern songs.”
He said, “We have a talented pool of house band members like Kamran Mannu Zafar on bass guitar, Asad Ahmed on guitar, Babar Ali Khanna on dholak, Javed Iqbal on violin, Omran ‘Momo’ Shafique on guitar, Rachel Viccaji and Zoe Viccaji on backing vocals and so on.”
Their effort is to make different music that is refreshing and soulful at the same time, he said, adding that they try their best not to repeat music that has already been played in a season.
Hyatt said, “The Season 5 collection will include various artists like Bilal Khan, Fareed Ayaz & Abu Muhammad and many more. In Coke Studio clips, you will observe that the beauty of every song is that we try to highlight not only the singers, but also the musicians.”
He talked about this from personal experience, because as a band member, he always missed being in the limelight while the singer received all the attention.
“In Coke Studio, I have tried to change the format and you will see that we have always focused on every musician and singer in every song,” Hyatt said.
He said that bass guitarist Mannu has done an incredible job in a qawali number, but Hyatt was saddened after watching the final shoot because Mannu was not focused in that.
When asked about the selection criteria, he said, “Our major attempt every season is to focus on some of the dying languages of our country – Balochi, Sindhi, Urdu, etc. Coke Studio has offered a huge platform to all traditional artistes, especially folk singers who were fading away.”
Coke Studio has given these artistes the right exposure, so now they are in demand and are globally known by all, he said.
“We have also combined traditional singers with modern singers, which has been the main highlight of every season,” he added.
Are there any plans to collaborate with Indian artists? “Yes, talks are going on. We are soon planning to do a combined series for our next season, in which we shall include Indian and Pakistani singers and musicians.”
He said that it would be a great blend of music from both countries. If things get finalised on time, the shoot might probably be started in August, and the recordings would take place in Dubai, he added.


  1. More Baloch, Brahvi, Sindhi, singers and of course from Chitral, AJK, and Gilgit-Baltistan would do a world of good!

    If there is supposed to be a Indo-Pak collaboration, make sure it does NOT become some semi-Bollywood musical production. That was why India's Coke Studio failed to impress.

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