A Truly Divergent Message: Find Heaven by Daniyal Noorani (Inteview)

January 29, 2010


Sadaf Fayyaz

Daniyal shares his views on his debut Find Heaven with koolmuzone. Besides depicting a love or peace kind of message in his music, he has made a song on an entirely different and serious issue. After a very long time, something out-of-the-box has come up.

Tell something about your education and background.

Daniyal: I grew up in Lahore and did my schooling from Aitchison College. After that I went to a small liberal arts college called Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. I managed to live with people from every major religion while I was in college and I learnt a lot from them. I graduated with a Math and Economics double major and I am currently doing Business Development at a biotech firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What is the basic objective of Find Heaven?

Daniyal: The basic objective of Find Heaven was to highlight the exploitation and manipulation of the impoverished and confused. It was to show how we as a society have failed to provide for the basic needs of our people, such as justice, education, food, security etc and how this leads to the exploitation of people. In the video I tried to put more emphasis on the journey rather than the end result, because unless we address the events and root causes that lead to these sorts of actions, these actions are bound to be repeated.

In the video I particularly highlight people who use religion to manipulate people but the song holds true for any form of exploitation. If you exchanged the religious characters in the video with more secular/political characters, you could show how our corrupt politicians manipulate and corrupt the impoverished by offering them a worldly heaven like money, power, etc. So to emphasize, the song is meant to condemn exploitation of any kind, whether it is secular or religious in nature.

What made you do a song on this particular subject? Was there any specific event?

Daniyal: There was no event in particular. I just felt at the time when I wrote the song, there was an apathy regarding suicide bombings in the country. People didn’t know whether they condemned it or whether they supported it. So I wanted to write a song on the subject and made people actually think about it.

What was your source of learning while making this song?

Daniyal: I just used images from my experience to make the video. I thought about the things happening in Pakistan that disturbed me. Issues like injustice, lack of education, poverty that prevail in Pakistan and used those images in my video.

What is your motivation?

Daniyal: My motivation was to try and make people ask the difficult questions we shy away from. Make them talk about a subject that they are uncomfortable discussing on. If we don’t talk about these issues, we will continue to have our own misconceptions and will not move closer to resolving any of Pakistan’s issues.

Instead of using real people, you have used animations. Is there any specific reason for that?

Daniyal: I chose animation to limit the element of personal bias that may be associated with an actor so that the focus remains on the story and the message. This way the focus is entirely on the story. Also, this video could be misinterpreted by some people that may have resulted in consequences for actors playing the roles – I didn’t want to endanger anyone.

The theme behind the song, was your idea or some family person’s?

Daniyal: The concept of the song and video is mine but I have had a lot of help from friends and family in developing this song. My cousin, Marria Khan, put in many hours to animate this video and she did a fantastic job. She brought the whole video to life wonderfully. My friends helped me put together the music and my family was very supportive of me during the process. I would like to thank anyone who has had even the tiniest thing to do with this video.

Is this one song you have done or you have plans to continue writing songs? Is there any upcoming album or single?

Daniyal: I have written other songs, which are on a wide array of subjects. While writing a song, I try to write about something that interests me and hope that someone else will find it interesting as well. I will definitely continue to write more songs as it is something I enjoy doing.
As for an upcoming album, I haven’t really thought of that. I didn’t release the song with any commercial objectives in mind. It was a message that I thought was worth saying. Currently I am just focusing on distributing Find Heaven” as widely as possible and just seeing the feedback that it receives. But if people are interested I believe I will continue to release music.

To what extent, you think the message you tried to deliver, was received correctly by people?

Daniyal: I think the significant majority of people have received it correctly and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Reading the responses and the feedback that I am getting, it feels as if the people in Pakistan were waiting for someone to bring up this topic. That being said a few people have not received the video well. They felt as if it was projecting all Muslims in a negative light and that was absolutely not my intention. Most people have understood that the video is depicting a small section of people who are manipulating religion to achieve their goals and that is, what I wanted to convey in the video. That being said, this video is my opinion of a problem I think Pakistan is facing, I may have a differing opinion from other people but I am willing to learn from their opinions as well and I welcome any critique.

It seems from the video that you think religion is the cause of mind destruction. Is there any specific reason for that? How can our youth save themselves from uneducated religious leaders, who misguide youth? What are other factors, according to you, responsible for mind destruction of youth?

Daniyal: I tried to keep the video as open ended as possible so each viewer can formulate their own opinion. But outside of the video I don’t think religion is the main factor for the destruction of the youth’s mind as you say. As I have mentioned before, this video could easily be spun in a political manner to highlight corruption.

The key issue that I feel is currently plaguing our youth is the lack of empowerment of the youth. In Pakistan the majority of people feel as if they don’t have the ability to impact their society or make a positive change. This results in the individual feeling helpless and dejected. In this void if some organization or person comes and empowers you, obviously it will be a very attractive proposition for the youth. Our society needs to empower our youth, whether it is through education or job opportunities it doesn’t matter. Once the youth feels as if they are making a tangible difference in society, I think that will help a lot with a situation in Pakistan. I know this may be a pipe dream but at least we should start working towards it.

What is your message for the readers?

Daniyal: A couple of messages:

Take nothing for granted and question everything. Once you do that, the answer you come up will be much more fulfilling.

Try to speak up against injustice. Whether it is your government failing you or someone manipulating the impoverished, speak up.