I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Sam Hasan, a singing and guitar-playing sensation from Manhattan, New York. Currently a third year medical student at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, Sam began singing when he was seventeen years old, while living in Lahore, Pakistan, also the city where he grew up. When he turned eighteen, he moved to the U.S. to pursue higher education.
While the musician’s movie star good looks might be your initial reason for glancing his way, his raspy crooning voice is what will keep you hooked. Sam takes his primary musical influences from a wide variety of musical genres. He picked up the guitar after listening to Joe Satriani, who is responsible for him doing anything musical. More recently, John Mayer’s songwriting and guitar playing has been a tremendous influence on him.
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Let’s talk about your original single ‘Alive’. What inspired this song?
Laughs. Alive was written during my junior year of college. I recorded it from start to finish in my dorm room; including production and mastering. The inspiration of the song came from one of my best friends. He was experiencing withdrawal from a previous relationship while starting a new one. After reconnecting with an ex, he found himself second-guessing his decisions. Our talks really moved me, so I decided to articulate them into a song.
You started YouTubing with English songs. What prompted you to start recording Punjabi and Hindi songs?
I think it was a mixture of a natural progression and demand by listeners. I try to maximize the number of people who are able to listen to my music, so once my YouTube started getting hits, fans began asking me to venture out of the usual English songs I posted. I sang some desi songs a few times, live in front of a crowd, and the response sort of clued me into the idea of doing the same in front of a camera as well. Laughs.
How do your parents feel about your passion for music?
My parents have always been extremely supportive. They, like myself, put academics ahead of music so they've always been the biggest fans of whatever I do, as long as it’s a supplement to my academics and not a distraction.
When do you write best?
I don't think there's an exact time. I always tend to keep my handy dandy leatherbound songwriting journal with me so I can write whenever I am inspired. I can't seem to use my phone or an iPad to write down the lyrics. I tend to feel it is much more organic when my thoughts are transcribed via an old, reliable pen and paper.
What are a few of your muses?
I've been inspired by people, a view, a fragrance. I'm of the opinion that anything can move you emotionally and inspire you creatively.
You performed at NYU’s Fast-A-Thon this week. Did this event have a personal significance to you?
My most recent show at NYU, The 10th Annual Fast-A-Thon: Fast for Water, organized by the Islamic Center at NYU was of tremendous significance to me. My schedule, recently, has predominantly been consumed by my academics, so I've cut down on live performances significantly. The only time I tend to perform live, is when I believe the cause is charitable, making it good enough for me to make time to contribute. For this particular show, ICNYU was able to raise around $30,000. The proceeds went towards building water wells in East Africa, where there is a severe drought and a water crisis. I will continue to perform live for charitable events, in an attempt to give back, in any capacity that I can, to those who deserve it.
Who are some of your greatest influences outside of music?
Outside of music, I am inspired every day by my parents who have given me everything I could ask of; material and otherwise.
Are there plans for an album in the near future?
I currently have an album called "Rooftops & Boulevards" on iTunes, AmazonMP3, Rhapsody & eMusic. It was released in Sept 2010, right before I started medical school.
What do you love about music?
There is plenty I love about music, but if I could pick one thing, it would be universality. I strongly believe that in these times when there are so many differences among everyone; so much hatred, so many conflicts, music is literally the only thing that surpasses all, and has the power to connect everyone on the same level if everyone's minds are open to it. You don't need to learn different languages or be versed in different cultures to be moved by music.
Well said, Sam Hasan. We definitely don’t need to learn different languages to be moved by your music, or your voice, either. All we need an ear to listen; it’s that simple to make us fall in love with your sound. Sam Hasan’s YouTube channel currently has over 300,000 views, be sure to subscribe, folks.