Instepexclusive: Arooj Aftab talks about performing at Coachella

Maheen Sabeeh
Saturday, May 14, 2022

Karachi:Founded in 1999, Coachella is among the world’s foremost performing arts experience for anyone attending or performing. The double-bill event, held at Coachella Valley in California, takes place on consecutive weekends. In its many years since inception, some of the most popular artists have performed at Coachella, including Beyonce Knowles, Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, and Ariana Grande. This year’s play bill included names such as Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Arcade Fire as well as some of the most exciting yet lesser-known acts.

In 2022, among these names was Arooj Aftab, who played both weekends in the California desert.

With two Grammy Award nominations including one win for ‘Mohabbat’ in the category of Best Global Music Performance [from her third album, Vulture Prince], Arooj is now a much bigger name after several years of hard work.

And let’s be honest, since Arooj went on Obama’s playlist followed by winning a Grammy Award in 2022, Pakistan’s interest in her has quadrupled. Her collaboration with Asfar Hussain, ‘Mehram’ on Coke Studio 14 solidified that interest.

Talking to Instep Today from the USA, Arooj said about her Coachella experience, “Coachella was really, really fun,” she said. “It made me realize that I am from the desert because I was born in Saudia Arabia and when you see the desert topography again, you’re like ‘oh, this is very familiar’. I was processing my origins because whatever the case may be about being born in Saudia Arabia, I don’t connect with it at all. It’s such a random thing.

“There was something to be said about spending the first 10 years of life in a desert and it’s beautiful. I am now thinking about it after being at Coachella.

“It’s held on a giant polo ground but super beautiful and you’re looking at the crowd and performing and as you look past the crowd, there are these huge mountains close by, and I’m singing and my voice is traveling across. Singing in Urdu and saying these things made me very emotional. It was a really, really incredible moment.”

Since winning the Grammy, apart from being on tour, Arooj was also invited to the White House on the occasion of Eid where Joe Biden and Jill Biden were not only present, but also shared the podium with her.