Born in Oldham, Faz started playing the violin in studios and on tracks from an early age and moved into classical music around 11 – 12 years old. Faz pursued beat boxing from aged 13 and his since collaborated within numerous platforms of art, culture, music and movement. At 18 years old, Faz scripted and wrote the music for his own play in which he played the main role, becoming the first person in Oldham to achieve the Gold Arts Award.
Faz has played Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto for Channel 4 with Orchestra United, and recorded and led the recording orchestra for Emmy Award Winning Martyn Swain and with Matt Dunkley, conductor of the films The Dark Knight and Inception. Faz now dedicates his work towards helping young people in education and runs the arts education outreach company Vivo Creative.
Our Intern Joel Taylor asked Faz a few questions about music and life:
What’s your story with music?
I got involved with music around the age of 6. I was getting into trouble in school, couldn’t concentrate in lessons, and just generally being a nuisance. The music teacher told me to try the violin. Quickly, I found that my school grades improved because I had an outlet, an escapism from all the confusion of school and life at that time.
Then I got introduced to beatboxing by Kieran Beatboxer. School was a hostile place to be, and racism was not unusual in that area (Oldham), but when I started beatboxing it was a way of getting some positive attention. I started working with other artists, playing violin on beats for local rappers and refining my freestyle beatboxing skills with dancers as well. These collaborations enabled me to break a few barriers between the Asian community and the live music scene.
What do you do with MAI?
I am the NW Programme Coordinator for Harmonise. The programme helps connect refugee and asylum seeker school children with their peers, to transform prejudice through a fun, shared experience. I have 8 years experience working in schools and consider the individual needs of each school and its students before anything else.
I have been involved with Music Action International for two years. It is a fantastic organisation. The people are so dedicated and I have learnt so much. It is so rewarding to work with young refugees and other children through music, to enable them to settle into their new life in the UK and give them direction and hope for the future.
How has music changed your life?
Finding value in myself came through music as it took me to new places and people I would have never thought would become my closest friends. In school, it helped me stop fighting but most importantly, music has helped me understand the changes in my own life and the lives of others. Music has helped shape my identity and connect with those around me.
What song brings you peace?
One of the most influential songs in my life is called Mast Qalandar. It is a very early memory for me as my father used to play this on cassette at home along with his Pakhtoon tappai. It is about the ways of a righteous Qalandar (a high spiritual saint who enjoys freedom from earthly desires). The Qawaali genre has its roots in mystic Islamic Sufism, evoking my inner child whenever I hear it played.
Listen to Faz’s chosen song here: