Tell us about your foray into the field of music. How did it all begin for you? My mother noticed that I was musical very early on, I am told. When I was about six, I got super fascinated with songs I would hear coming out of the television. Then, when I was sent to boarding school, I got drawn towards playing the piano. The school had a number of grand pianos that were managed by a Scottish teacher. He also saw my interest in music and luckily he was also a great guitar player and taught me both the instruments. I gave it my all and by 12, I was playing really well. I also inherited a massive record collection from my aunt who lived in Switzerland. So, I had access to grand pianos and some great hit records very early- very rare for a Pakistani kid. I then started noticing how I liked the records that were written by artists who were singers. So, my love for singer-songwriters started growing. Then one fateful day I heard the BeeGees singing Too much Heaven, that was the day I decided that I would grow up to be a record producer. I wanted to learn how these songs were constructed, I wanted to learn everything about recording music and started reading sound engineering books and magazines and surely one day I got a job at a studio is Los Angeles. One of your albums recently hit #1 on the Billboard Charts. Tell us about this album and what do you think sets it apart from the rest of your work? A big dream of mine was to record with a Symphony Orchestra and this vision lived in my heart for several years. Then when the finances made sense, I went for it. I wrote new songs and engaged Doug Emery and David Griffin to do the arrangements. I had the option of going with a smaller chamber orchestra, but I only wanted the big symphony orchestra sound. It took a couple of years to get everything ready. I knew I wanted to lean on my film degree and direct and shoot a nice video of the recording, so I hired a seven-member camera crew and a DOP. It was incredibly fun on the day of the recording. At one time I would be talking to the film crew discussing shots and lighting and lenses and then going over the microphones and recording plan with the sound engineer and eventually put on the singer’s hat and sing my heart out. It took another year to mix and master the recording and editing the videos. But nothing could have prepared me for what was about to happen. Just as soon we released the album it showed promise at radio and Aurora TV Community channel picked up the video. In the US I was already on the Billboard charts with song ‘Ginoo’ and album ‘Tere Baghair’, the first foreign-language album to go #1 in the US so when this new album came out the momentum just carried it. It landed at #7 on the Billboard Classical cross over charts. Then two weeks later with a short stop at #4, it claimed the number 1 spot. A very exciting and surreal feeling to be the first Pakistani artist to record original songs with a symphony orchestra and be at number 1 on the Billboard charts. It also went to number 1 on iTunes in France, Germany, Turkey, Mexico, Australia and Switzerland. What in your view is the unique selling point of this album to have made it #1 on such an esteemed platform?I think uniqueness is written all over this project. A Pakistani recording with a Symphony Orchestra is a rare occurrence. An Australian symphony orchestra recording with a Pakistani artist again is not seen every day. The repertoire is also ‘new sounding’. The fusion of my style in a classical setting is also very distinctive. All these elements add up real fast to deliver a world-class project and the audience has responded. I cannot be happier with the results and want to do more of it with other orchestras around the world such as the famous London Philharmonic and Thailand Philharmonic and the Los Angeles International symphony orchestra. Thailand is a beautiful, culturally rich, and very musical country and it would be incredible to work with their Orchestra and bring them to the International stage. I also want to record a Mariachi based album and would love to travel to Mexico to record especially now that I know that I have an audience in that part of the world. The concept of an independent artist recording with a big band in times when everything is shrinking is very fascinating to me as well. Tell us about your experience recording live at the prestigious Sydney Opera House. What are the criteria for being allowed to record there?So when I was studying at Sydney Film School every day on my way to classes on the train from the Harbour Bridge I would see this pretty music venue. Every day I would feel as if it is calling me, a very powerful and enticing feeling. So, I started doing some research and found out that no one from my part of the world had ever recorded a Live album at this beautiful venue. So I decided to become the first Pakistani artist to record a Live album there. It took me a year to write the songs set up a nine-piece band and after endless rehearsals were ready to book the date. Virtually unknown in Australia I had to prove to the Opera House management that this was a credible project and how venues can help establish careers. They thought it all made a lot of sense and came on board to help me realise my dream. One of your tracks went #1 on the Aria Charts. For those who don’t know, what are the Aria Charts?So after the big recording at the Sydney Opera House, I went into the studio to listen to it and see how well we did. I was very concerned and wasn’t sure if anything we recorded sounded good enough to be released. Once I finished mixing the album one song ‘Like the river’ sounded really good. So I quickly mastered it and brought it to MGM distribution which is Australia’s premier music distribution company. They liked what they heard and agreed to release the single. We utilized a local promotions company headed by Lewis Khan and with help from community radio and TV tried to make a loud bang in the market. Our efforts paid off and I became the first Asian artist to go number one of the ARIA charts. Australian ARIA charts are equivalent to what Billboard Charts are to the US. You have mentioned in the past how the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s vocal strengths and abilities have inspired you over the years. How much of this inspiration do you try to merge with your work?In my quest to develop my vocals I tried to leave no stone unturned. Then one day my Father sent me tapes of Baray Ghulam Ali and it changed my life. I started listening to and studying Eastern classical music with an emphasis on vocals. Artists like Malika Pukhraj and Baray Ghulam Ali really fascinated me. I founded that I really resonated with the style and works of Aziz Mian Qawwal, perhaps the only Qawal who was also an incredible writer and philosopher with a proper college degree. Then I learned that some of my tapes were played for Nusrat and he showed interest in my work. So, when he landed in Los Angeles to do a concert with Peter Gabriel I went to receive him at the airport. From that day on I stayed with him in the same house for a few months. This was the time when I learned the most about Qawali singing and the skills and the ‘Riyazat’. Nusrat had a habit of practicing his voice at the crack of dawn and I used to sit right next to him soaking it all in. I was in awe of him and how even not in the best of health he practiced his craft daily. Today in my work I utilize everything that I learned from him and from other classical vocalists of Pakistan and learning never stops. I am extremely proud of my musical heritage as a Pakistani which plays a fundamental role in how I choose and select projects.‘Our efforts paid off and I became the first Asian artist to go #1 on the ARIA charts. Australian ARIA charts are equivalent to what Billboard Charts are to the US’What according to you has been your biggest achievement so far?There are a few things that happened over the years that I am really grateful for and these things combine to make the writer and producer I am today. Developing my career amongst some of the baddest Black music producers of America is surely a highlight and an honor. Then being able to get an opportunity to develop my skills is another blessing I am very thankful for. The recordings with Nusrat and other incredible musicians is a very awe-inspiring experience. The travels I undertook to explore and grow also adds to my smiles and then the commercial success that has come in 2020 is just unreal. I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome of my years of work. Have you ever considered coming back to Pakistan and making music here?Oh! That would be incredible and I think of this all the time. In 1999, I took three years to develop new sounding music in Pakistan based on the principles of Black Funk music. I think I was really successful in doing it. There is a song called ‘Agar’ recorded Live in Islamabad that can be found on YouTube with this band I had developed. I would love to do more of it. What are you currently working on?These days I am busy tightening my promotional team. They have done extremely well in 2020 and currently, we are expanding and growing with all this new success we have seen so by the time the next album comes around we are ready from the get-go. I am also writing new music and working on producing the new Orchestral album with the help of producers David Jones and J Michaels. I am also working with Doug Emery on new songs. The new melodies and lyrics show a lot of growth and I have recently built my new recording studio with all the bells and whistles I could only drool over a few years. Also, with the help of my close friend and extraordinary filmmaker Mike Chin, in works is the new video for the song ‘Want to be with you’ which will be released as a single in Australia soon. The new orchestral album has Jazz elements fused with World music sounds with a stronger and clearer vocal. What is your vision for Pakistan and what does it mean to be Pakistani for you?If Pakistan had the facilities and if they had a proper music business I would have never left. By proper music business, I mean a system that protects the writers and helps them grow by properly crediting them, respecting their intellectual rights, and then paying them royalties as the Western World does. No one seems to be bothered that this the most fundamental infrastructure and is not in place. When things went from bad to worst then soft drink companies saw the opportunity and hijacked the music industry. Now there are no record labels with an interest to foster new writers. I hope one day the Government realizes this and endeavours to install a system that cares for the writers of the future. A country with a working Intellectual rights system is also considered an educated country. Pakistan, however, is years ahead of India because the industry there is overwhelmed by cancer named Bollywood. The lip sync business is richer than ever and stealing copyrights is the norm. Bollywood and its culture eliminated any hopes for India to producing singer-songwriters and as big as they claim their entertainment industry to be there are hardly any names who achieved International success with their creativity. This is because the system is rigged in favour of the incompetents. The real artist is destined to lose. Our Pakistan can never be like that. My Pakistan one day will be a Haven for writers and we are not short of the beautiful scenic places we can offer to writers for inspiration. We at Daily Times consider you one of our national heroes. Who are some of yours?My heroes start at home. My parents are my heroes. My brother Masaud Khan’s support for my work definitely qualifies him as my hero. Then in the world, I look up to each and every person I met in my journey who was fair to me. It is because of them I found the means to keep running when the going got tough. Then, musically I still love the voice of Robin and Barry Gibb and the Beegees Harmonies and the Brother’s Gibb family are my heroes. They have always shown great support for my work, so I am double lucky in that. Dick Ashby is my hero for always stating the truth and making sure I make it on my own. Tom Berry is my hero for believing in me and all the encouragement that helped me grow. David Jones is another hero of mine whose support made me who I am today. Gary Grant is another hero who took the time to nurture and develop me and hats off to Dennis Poore for without his support I won’t be the writer I am today; Livio Harris is a hero/mentor who spent time on my development. Mahmood Khan is truly an artist ahead of his time. He perfectly blends all the musical magic of the past with the raw emotions of today. His music is timeless and ageless. His style is the bridge between what was and what is yet to be. J Michaels is a successful Los Angeles record producer. His credits include Michael Jackson and Brandy to name a few. ‘Mahmood Khan is truly an artist ahead of his time. He perfectly blends all the musical magic of the past with the raw emotions of today. His music is timeless and ageless. His style is the bridge between what was and what is yet to be’. Producer J. Michaels. ‘What I have learned about being in music for so long is that the best artists focus on expression. Their magic is being able to express themselves in a unique and powerful way. They create a mood and a feeling with their music. They capture a melody that seems familiar, yet new, and then they take the simplest words that we use every day and put them together in a way that touches our hearts and souls. Finally, they do it so simply that when you hear it, it seems obvious. Mahmood has always had the commitment to becoming a great artist and his music reflects it. He is pushing boundaries and unlocking the secrets, and we get to go with him on his journey. I am proud and happy to be a part of that journey because he is heading to greatness’- Producer David JonesAchievementsA DEVELOPER BY NATUREThirty-five years of development has finally produced a chart-topping songwriting and production machine that knows no boundaries.A HIT MAKERMahmood Khan is the first Asian born artist to top the Billboard charts in the classical genre.GOING LIVE AT THE OPERA HOUSEHe is the first Australian artist to chart with an Australian Symphony Orchestra and the only Asian artist to record a Live album at the Sydney Opera House.INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITIONMahmood Khan was granted Australian citizenship for his contribution to the Australian music industry.ITUNES KINGHe went #1 on iTunes in France, the United Kingdom, the US, Australia, Mexico, Turkey and Switzerland.