Hi A-Zal! Let’s start with how did you get your artist name?
It’s a combination of my first name, Atif and my last name, Afzal, which makes it A-Zal. My friends call me Zal!
What city are you from and where are you based now?
I was born in Mumbai, India and spent my childhood in London, UK. I migrated to the USA, and now live in New York, my favorite city in the world.
At what point in your life did you decide to pursue a career in music? How did you get started?
I was working as an executive with KPMG, and it was in 2010 when I decided to take the plunge and make a career in music. Although I was earning quite well with a corporate job, it never fed my soul. I also knew that I didn't want to sail on two boats and do music just as a hobby. I decided to leave it and go full-time into music. The early years were brutally tough to breakthrough, but it all compensates after a few years once you start getting the recognition.
Has your upbringing played a role in shaping who you are and defining your sound today? If so, how?
Big time. My childhood in London revolved around just two things, one was British Pop music and the second was the British Premier League. I had saved up some pocket money and bought myself a radio from the Saturday Flee Market in Hounslow. I had a few cassettes and access to the radio. I somewhere developed a musical taste that stayed with me for life and is reflective in the music that I write today.
How would you describe your sound to readers who may not be familiar with you?
My sound is a combination of British and American Pop I would say. I bank on my strong songwriting abilities combined with a powerful music production. If I have to give you some examples using artist names, think about Ed Sheehan songs marrying Dua Lipa’s songs - my sound good be their amalgamation.
Do you have any hobbies outside of music? What do you do to stay creative?
Now that my hobby is my full-time job, I had to figure out another hobby. Although I don’t get much time for any other hobbies, I love to travel and explore cities which are not really tourist destinations. I really don’t get much time to do that, but I try to take a few weekends in a year to get away and explore such cities.
Who are some of your main musical influences?
My biggest and only musical influence is Ed Sheehan, when it comes to my Pop music. His songs and lyrics have stayed with me for the longest time. Of course, I call his voice the voice of a God sent angel. He puts out such profound thoughts in the simplest ways and that’s what I love about his songwriting. The way it has influenced my songwriting is by adding simplicity to the process. I try to craft my lyrics in such a way that anyone listening to it can understand it without getting lost in the words.
Who would be a dream to collaborate with?
I would love to one day collaborate with Dua Lipa. I love her voice so much! I saw a video of her studio recording, and I really feel that we will be recording something together really soon!
What are some of your future music career goals?
I have never had an end goal to be honest. Because, if I did, I would stop there. I worked with Marvel Studios on two of their major series in the last two years, Loki and Ms. Marvel. A decade ago, I couldn’t even possibly dream of this, and if I were to set this as my end goal, I would have already achieved it and wouldn’t really know what is next. Hence, I never really have any end goals. Having said that, I do have interim goals that are part of the end goal. A couple of them would be to hold the Grammy Award in the Pop category and to play a concert in a packed Metlife Stadium. Metlife Stadium is a 45-minute drive from my house, and every time I pass it, I just feel so strong about playing there one day in front of a massive audience.
Now onto your release, ‘Movie Script.’ What inspired this song?
When I decided to come up with my album, I was clear that I have to pick up instances from my personal life and shape them into songs. The idea behind my album was to reach out to my listeners and tell them my story through my songs. The first song had to be based on something that I believe in the most, which is living life like it was a movie. I am really not fond of a life which is lived based on a calendar schedule and to build a resume. It has to be beyond that and unpredictable, which makes it exciting like a thriller movie.
What is ‘Movie Script’ about in your own words?
'Movie Script' is all about living your life cinematically, as if it was a dream. We get just one life, and we need to live it to the fullest. That’s precisely why I chose to do what I love the most, which is music. I wanted to take my listeners to a different world, which is cinematic, fairytale-like, fun, exciting, and most importantly, like a dream.
How did the music video for ‘Movie Script’ come about? What was your vision for the video?
My vision for the video was to export my audience to my world. The music video turned out to be the most exciting part of the song, while also being the most challenging part of the process. After speaking with many directors and receiving their treatment notes for the song, I realized that no one is able to accurately put my vision into visuals, which is why I decided to self-direct the video. Apart from my debut as a Pop singer, this also marks my directorial debut. I am directing my next music video too, and it’s been such a magical experience to watch the narrative in my head translate into a visual.
What is your favorite lyric in ‘Movie Script’ and why?
'Look at the way I’m holding up the moonlight, let’s make it like a Movie Script' is my favorite line in the lyrics and also the favorite part of the music video. This line almost serves as the synopsis for the song.
What message do you hope fans take away from your music and from ‘Movie Script?’
More than a message, I want my fans to take away the experience. If the song leaves them humming the melody, that’s a winner.
What’s one of the proudest moments of your music career so far?
I have no doubt in saying that working with Marvel Studios has been the proudest moment of my music career so far. But, recently, another major development happened in my life. 'Movie Script' is charting on USA Radio charts. The song charted in USA’s Mediabase Top 40 Activator Charts in just its second week of the release, competing with some of the best Pop musicians in the world. It ranked #114 in its opening week and moved up to #93 in its second week. However, the biggest leap was in the third week where it moved up by 31 positions to rank at #62 in just its third week. I am so excited to see my name among singers such as Ed Sheehan, Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, and Olivia Rodrigo.
What would you say are the greatest lessons that you’ve learned so far?
If you want to achieve something, do it as if your life depended on it! One of the greatest lessons that I have learned so far is to make sure you are the last man standing. I don’t know how far I am going to go with this, but I know one thing that I will be the last man standing, come what may! I left everything in my life to follow my dream, and I won’t let it go mid way. I never would put myself in a spot where I would feel I didn’t give it every ounce of effort.
What’s next for you? Are you working on any upcoming projects, or do you have any upcoming shows that we should be on the lookout for?
I have been in talks for another Marvel show, but it's too early to talk about that. Currently, all my energies are focussed on my album, '17 & 11 Nights,' and 'Movie Script' is the first song from the album.
Where can we follow you on social media?
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/azalmusic/
TikTok - https://www.tiktok.com/@a_zal.music
Website - https://a-zal.com/
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