INTERVIEW: Award-winning Singer-Songwriter Mohammed Khisar Paika

Mohammed Khisar Paika is a practicing physician, singer/songwriter/composer, engineer, cantor as well as a Koran chanter, who specializes in world, spiritual, Islamic, fusion and eastern style music. He is of Indian descent, and the founder and managing director of One Essence Productions. Mohammed was born in Bombay, India and his family immigrated to the United States of America when he was 6 years old. At an early age, he started to explore his interest in music and performance, showing a keen interest in singing and chanting. His music career started with Eastern and Western musical influences which helped shape his singing style and performances. Mohammed has travelled to many countries around the world for his music, including USA, Dubai, Singapore, France, England, Turkey, and India. “Unity” is an album conceptualized, written and sung by the award-winning Mohammed Khisar Paika.

  1. Which did you discover first – your faith or music? And how important are these two elements in your life?

Mohammed K Paika: Both are equally important for me in my personal life. I believe both faith and music go hand in hand. My music speaks about my faith and my faith is also spoken through my music. My music stands for aspects of faith such as equality, unity, tolerance and love.

  1. When did you start making music seriously and are you self-taught?

Mohammed K Paika: My musical journey started quite young. I am lucky to come from a musical family. My uncle was a stage singer and performer, and my brothers also have a keen interest in singing and performing. Hearing music around my house and family and being exposed to the joy of music from an early age made it easy and natural to love and learn music and singing. At home, my brothers and I had an incredible collection of songs. When I was 12 or 13 years old, I was fascinated by Bollywood singers. Later on I learned about other singers and styles of singing and incorporated them into my style. When I was in college I learned classical Islamic qur’anic chanting which helped to diversify my singing style and develop my voice. I realized I wanted to pursue music when saw a lack of spiritual based songs in the current music scene. I wanted to address issues which no one would sing about but resonates in everyone’s hearts.

  1. How do you prioritize or divide your time between being a practicing physician, a singer/songwriter/composer, engineer, and cantor as well as a Koran chanter?

Mohammed K Paika: One of the greatest challenges for myself is to allocate time to do my music as I live a very busy life working as a full time physician. A major challenge has been to coordinate time to work on a project with artists, musicians, lyricists and videographers who live in different parts of the world which I often do. It requires me to be a proactive team player. I usually allocate a specific amount of time for my work such as 1 week on and 1 week off and when I am not at work then I’m essentially composing, singing or songwriting or doing production related work.  Classical Koran chanting has been my daily routine since I was a child and fits well into my daily schedule, whether I work or not. I used to serve as a cantor on a weekly basis in a local mosque but now I am presently a cantor at home due to covid-19.

  1. You have both Eastern and Western musical influences. Which artists have influenced you most?

Mohammed K Paika: My vocal style is my own creation but I’ve been inspired by both Eastern and Western musical and vocal influences over time such as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Ahmad bin Ali Al-Ajmi, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Fairuz etc.

  1. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?

Mohammed K Paika: The main focus of my music has been to enlighten humanity towards unification and speak of faith based topics such as love, tolerance and equality which has resonated well with listeners.

  1. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles? And you affront these themes in your music?

Mohammed K Paika: I believe music is a great medium to spread awareness whether the aim is cultural, spiritual, social or political. My main focus has been a spiritual awareness rather than political.

  1. Do you feel that your music has given you back just as much as you have put into it over the years, or were you expecting something more, or different?

Mohammed K Paika: I would love to expand my fan base and for my music to be heard throughout the world. I know I have to keep on working hard. That being said, I am satisfied with what I have achieved so far which is far more than I had imagined. I am humbled by all the appreciation, admiration and love that I have received thus far, which only pushes me to do more.

  1. Could you describe your creative processes? How most often do start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a beat, a melody, or a narrative in your head?

Mohammed K Paika: Almost always the process starts with a thought or change that I would like to speak about which initiates the songwriting process. Once the song is written, I work on the melody until I am satisfied. I usually use one instrument such as a piano or guitar. Once I have a “skeleton” in place, then instruments are added one by one. It’s a constructive process and it takes a lot of thought and time, so it may involve altering the lyrics slightly to fit the song slightly. The song evolves over time into a final and finished product ready to mixed and mastered and eventually released and distributed worldwide.

  1. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your career or life so far, and how did you overcome the event?

Mohammed K Paika: The most difficult thing I’ve had to endure is my father’s death. He passed away in early 2019 and I was deeply saddened during the process and afterwards. I overcame it by staying positive and realizing the bounties and blessing that I have and reflecting on his teachings.

  1. What would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?

Mohammed K Paika: My song “So Many Divisions” has been something I am proud of and that is special to me. It has earned multiple film awards which include best music video, best song and the peace award. The song address issues that resonate in everyone’s life. We are all humans first prior to being indoctrinated into any type of faith, sect or religion.

  1. Do you have a personal favorite track amongst your compositions that has a specific backstory and/or message and meaning very special to you?

Mohammed K Paika: This again would be “So Many Divisions”, but also my recent release which is named “Purpose of Life” This song highlights life’s true purpose which includes caring, sharing, helping and loving one another. It enlightens the listener to hold a high regard for oneself and one another so one can accomplish any difficult task, especially in today’s troubled times. It also speaks about respecting each other regardless of race, culture, religion or education and for us be one as a human race.

  1. With social media having a heavy impact on our lives and the music business in general, how do you handle criticism, haters and/or naysayers in general? Is it something you’ve had to deal with, and if so, do you pay attention to it, or do you simply ignore negativity?

Mohammed K Paika: There will always be people who agree or identify with you and some people who won’t in any industry regardless of what you’re doing. It shouldn’t change what you do or what you stand for.  Keep doing what keeps you happy and spread positivity. Negative people may become positive one day.

  1. Which aspects of the music business excites you most, and which aspects discourage you most?

Mohammed K Paika: What excites me most is the process of creation and the release of a song or album. There’s nothing more fulfilling than having something new to share with the world. If a song does well and is appreciated it is a cherry on top of the cake. There are many discouraging aspects of the music industry. One aspect is that music in general has become all about the visuals rather than the words. This means that for your music to get noticed it has to be accompanied by instantly “attention-grabbing” visual content. Also, musicians have to churn out catchy material continuously to stay relevant and popular rather than focusing on quality. Also as we know labels and industry monopolies will artificially boost their music/songs visibility, which independent artists cannot afford to do. This creates a barrier for a legitimate artist to reach a bigger audience.

  1. Could you tell us something about your album project, and which highlights fan should look out for?

Mohammed K Paika: My album is called Unity. Its focus has been to enlighten humanity towards unification. Today our world is deeply affected and saddened due to its lack of unity and infiltration of intolerance which can lead to extremism. The album focuses on aspects of unity in the family, marriage life community and country at large. Fans should also look out for my recent releases which include “Purpose of Life” and “Mere Khuda”. I spoke about “Purpose of Life” earlier. “Mere Khuda” is a song in Urdu with English subtitles. It’s a song devoted to God and His Blessings. I’ve have been privileged to work with classically trained and renowned artist Hishaam Faisal Siddique. I wanted do a fresh and unique song which involved shooting two different individuals from different parts of the world who share the same thoughts

  1. Does the album have an overarching theme or is it made up of a series of individual songs, each with their own message and meaning?

Mohammed K Paika: My album consists of a series of individual songs which carry their own message. For example, “So Many Divisions” is made to address issues which no one may speak but resonates in everyone’s hearts in that, we are all humans first prior to being indoctrinated into any type of faith, sect or religion. “Ya Ummati” stresses the importance of unity in the Muslim nation throughout the world, highlighting its most distressing concerns, specifically the issues of oppression, suppression of the poor and weak and also the conflict between different created sects of the faith since its birth.

  1. Did you draw inspiration from any particular sounds or styles, and/or events for this recording?

Mohammed K Paika: I have been deeply inspired by my own thoughts and experiences in life. My style is comprised of combination of world, spiritual, Islamic, fusion and eastern style music which includes Bollywood music.

  1. What is the story and vision behind One Essence Productions?

Mohammed K Paika: One Essence Productions is a record label which was created to promote not only myself but artists who share a similar vision. Its main aim is to be a platform to spread messages of love, faith, unity and equality through the medium of music. Besides song creation and production, one essence is also involved in music video creation and artist management.

  1. What’s your favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?

Mohammed K Paika: “Be the change that you wish to see”. This is the most interesting motto for me.  In other words, don’t preach but be the example being preached about. People will automatically respect and follow you if you are true to yourself.

  1. How essential do you think video is in relation to your music? Do you have a video you would suggest fans see, to get a better understanding of your persona and craft?

Mohammed K Paika: A video may be useful in projecting an artist’s vision of a particular song. For example “So Many Divisions”, “Ya Ummati” and “Purpose of life” are all videos which bring out my vision of the song. They are all available to see on my YouTube channel for you to judge on your own.

  1. What do you find most rewarding about what you do musically? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?

Mohammed K Paik: It’s not about fame or money. The true essence of music lies in its ability to enhance and influence other people’s lives in a positive way.  If you love what you do and share it with others, you can create a circle of inspiration that positively affects everyone around you. Even If I have affected one individual in a positive way then my work has been rewarding. I would like to further my music career and create more original work which would identify with people at large. I would like to produce more songs of love and life in general. I would like to break barriers in the field of music.


Rick Jamm

Journalist, publicist and indie music producer with a fervent passion for electric guitars and mixing desks !

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