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British actor and musician of Pakistani descent, Riz Ahmed has always been very vocal about the influence of his South Asian roots on his music. During a recent chat with Clash Music, the Golden Globe nominated actor spoke about the element of British-Pakistani diasporic experience being hinted through his music by integration of qawwali.

“I’ve always been inspired by Sufi poetry and qawwali, which is essentially a love song: it’s about a lover, it’s about heartbreak, it’s about God. I wanted to incorporate and mirror those feelings, as if we’re going through a very long, painful break-up with our country,” he shared talking about his solo album, The Long Goodbye.

The album unpacks the psychological toil of colonial trauma: His own personal history set against the backdrop of Partition, the vestiges of Empire and ancestral ghosts that haunt him.



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Read: Riz Ahmed is married to New York Times bestselling author Fatima Farheen Mirza

Ahmed is unapologetically brown on The Long Goodbye. The album has a sound design that integrates qawwali – a form of Sufi folk music popularized by the Great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The Long Goodbye also features a sample of NFAK’s ‘Allah Hoo Allah Hoo’ in the opening track, The Breakup (Shikwa).

Ahmed’s album builds on the synergistic template of British-Asian musicians like RDB, Bally Sagoo and more recently, Jai Paul.

“If it feels like a straightforward process it’s because of years moulding a sound,” he said, adding, “It’s not just about taking rap and taking South Asian pop music: it’s about going beyond that to devotional traditions, to folk music, exploring the percussion and different time signatures in that: melding that with drum and bass, making something that is hard to pinpoint. Take the track Fast Lava, what is it? It’s merging hardcore, jungle and footwork with Baloch drumming. There are layers there and that has taken time to refine.”