In Conversation with Faisal Khan Ashoor, Singer

By Deachen Spaldon & Yangchen Dolma Leh, Mar 21, 2023
Leh :

Q. Tell us about yourself and your musical journey.

I come from the border village, ‘Turtuk’ in Nubra valley. I have always been very passionate about singing and dancing since as a small kid. I did my early education in the village school, pursued higher studies at Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Leh, and that’s when I met my music teacher- Mr. Narendra. He introduced me to the basics of music while pushing and encouraging me to participate in singing competitions. I participated in singing competitions at the district level organised by Cultural Academy and bagged 1st position twice. This small achievement further boost my confidence and encouraged me to keep going on.

While pursuing my graduation from Delhi University, I joined the music society club and simultaneously started uploading small cover music videos on YouTube. Even though the platform was not big as it is today and there was hardly any good internet connection in Ladakh, I was overwhelmed with a large number of positive comments and love for my songs. The fact that so many people showed interest in my music videos, and the love and appreciation for a budding singer like me made me choose music as a career. 

During the Losar celebration in Delhi organized by LSWSD in 2019, I had the privilege to interact with His Holiness Drukpa Rinpoche, who praised my talent and promised to support me in all possible ways.  It was indeed one of the happiest days of my life. Later, one of the biggest opportunities came knocking at my door when I received a phone call from His holiness’s office informing me about the Naropa festival to be held in Leh and asking if I wanted to perform with the famous Bollywood singer ‘Nitti Mohan’. As ecstatic as I was I immediately agreed, the performance was a breakthrough in my music journey as many more people started recognizing me and my singing passion. Thus, I finally decided to choose music as my career. Under His Holiness’s guidance and support, I also got enrolled at a music institute called True school of music in Mumbai.

Q.  These days many youngsters prefer modern songs over folk songs. What do you think about that?

I think there should be a balance between both.  Being a Ladakhi it is certainly very important to know and understand our culture and get connected to our roots. I see many new singers interested in singing folk music and helping revive the age-old traditions of Ladakh. Through folk songs, we learn about our traditions and culture. I feel it is not only artists but everyone must focus on learning traditional music and understanding them.

If there is an initiative by the government and all the stakeholders to include learning folk music and making it a part of the curriculum in schools, it will be immensely beneficial for the upcoming generation. Notwithstanding that, we must not neglect the importance of other music genres.  If someone is excelling in this particular field they must continue pursuing their passion for it. An egalitarian approach to all music genres is paramount today.

Q. Share with us the struggles and problems you faced in pursuing this passion.

 Life doesn’t always serve choices and success on a platter; I too had to face many challenges and struggles at the beginning of my career. Firstly there was hesitancy about choosing music as a career as it is not considered a job with stable income generation. Internet connection was a huge problem earlier, so it created barriers to getting more exposure. As I was just at the beginning of my music journey it was extremely hard to get called for shows, while the anxiety of people not liking my songs kept looming over me. I had to travel to Delhi to record the songs as there were no studios in Leh, which was costly and I had to bear the brunt of being financially unstable because of this. 
Nevertheless, I was determined and very passionate about music which is why these challenges seemed minuscule and kept continuing on my journey. 

Q. What are your plans?

To achieve something big in life, you must start with small steps. Although I was very much interested in all music genres I started my journey with Ladakhi and Balti songs. Gradually when I started getting support and love from people and got recognition, I ventured into singing songs from other states and cultures. It began with covering songs from most of the Himalayan region such as Bhutan, Uttrakhand, Lahaul- Spiti, and Nepal. It also allowed me to visit and perform in these regions. As I get more recognition and people got to know me and my music, I got invitations to perform at various festivals in these regions. Being a Ladakhi getting such opportunities has been a big achievement for me. I have the ambition to perform at the national level now and it will start with covering more Bollywood songs. Our band is planning to do that and working on it currently. We have also composed two Hindi songs which are to be uploaded in the coming days.

Q. You talked earlier about people not considering music as a good career option. What do you have to say about it?

No profession is big or small. Everything depends on individual interests and how far we are willing to invest our time and energy in that. Earlier people were not aware, they take music just for entertainment purposes and not as a career. Choosing a government job was a far better option because of stability and income. The narrative has changed now to some extent today as more parents are encouraging their children to pursue their passion. There is a fair amount of understanding that besides bookish knowledge, participating in all co-curricular activities will develop one’s confidence in life. Not only in music but in whatever field be it art, designing, or dancing, if a child is passionate and interested, it is predominant that parents must support and guide them. Today, these are the fields from which one can earn a good source of income. 

Q. What is your advice to aspiring artists?

Learning never stops.  I still have to gain so much more experience and knowledge in this field. I can tell from the journey so far that, if you truly believe in something and are passionate about it, you need to come out of your comfort zone. Taking the first step is the hardest but you must not hold back. Just take the first step and push yourself toward your dream.  There will always be someone to criticize but focus on constructive criticisms. Surrounding yourself with supportive and positive people is necessary. 

Message to the readers

“Never let go of opportunities coming your way, it doesn’t matter how big or small it is. Believe in yourself, you should be your biggest supporter and have patience with your progress because every great thing takes time.”