Saad Junaid is a Lahore-based singer-songwriter currently living in London. In an exclusive conversation with Alt-look, he talks his musical influences, what sparks his creativity, and the Pakistani music scene.
Where did your name come from?
Putting Follows up as my last name was almost an intellectual reaction to relieving myself from the pretense of unique creation. It is all expression.
How has your music evolved since you first started playing music?
Impressed by an older cousin of mine, I stole a cassette from him (Nirvana-In utero) and then thought all things Grunge were cool. Cobain was dead and everyone was on this confused pre-pop vibe. I hate repetition and always tried to complicate the writing process. One simple example being that initially I’d write lyrics down to melodies or a hum and then write songs around one pivotal line or something. After I went through a process where I refused that and just wrote on instruments with vague lyrical dances around them.
What are your thoughts on the current indie music scene in Pakistan?
I think art everywhere is too heavily reflective of the rich in our era. It gets exhausting, repetitive and boring. In Pakistan there is a lot happening and things come up which are genuinely interesting, but there is probably a lack of structure there. Venues, labels etc. It can be this big incestuous circle where everyone knows everyone and it’s a grand circle jerk every now and then with a pat on the back.
It’s common for musicians to be out of work for long periods of time. How do you supplement this time without work?
I write a lot and when I wasn’t working I was recording and experimenting a fair bit. I’ve never struggled with filling up my time with things to do. But of course you have to eat, feed and rent. I worked as a cheese-monger for a long time, which was interesting as I am obsessed with food. Used to do culture writing for a magazine. I now work for an artist at Borough market selling his wares. So I have been working throughout. The balance is tricky but my deal is to refuse work that goes over 4 days a week. You cannot have a 5 day week and still create freely.
What got you involved in music in the first place?
My grandfather sang, wrote and played the sitar. I think we are always looking for places or people to be honest with. Music/writing might’ve served me like that.
Girls seemed to go gaga over boys with guitars, I was quietly going gaga over them, so I picked up a guitar? I’m sure that was a part of it. Let’s blame hormones and hold onto profundity.
What music are you listening to these days?
There’s this band called Big Thief I’m really into these days. Fat white family and King Gizzard are doing some great things. Annie Clark is a goddess, Kendrick Lamar my black prophet. Tom Waits is a lullaby. Frank Ocean is melancholia. There is really a lot of music I get through.
What do you like to do outside of music that contributes to your musicality, a hobby that you turn to in order to rejuvenate your creativity?
I love physical exertion. Just being physically wrung out. It gives you less energy for the melodramatic turns of existentialism-which are ringing out regardless and don’t need amplification. Sports. I love to cook. Watching live music is always good. Engaging with art. I buy a lot of books that I never finish. I buy more. I love shoes.
Lastly, a favorite lyric that you wrote?
We will all die and I love you.
Saad Junaid is currently busy working on his next record, an EP by the name of “DOGISABAND.”