Grammy winner Arooj Aftab speaks on new record and upcoming Glastonbury performance

By Thomson Reuters May 29, 2024 | 11:51 AM

By Sarah Mills

, 2024 – Arooj Aftab, the first Pakistani artist to win a Grammy, used night as the theme for her new record “Night Reign,” which will be released on Friday.

The New York-based musician’s career soared in 2022 when she won best global music performance at the Grammy Awards.

From June, the 39-year-old will tour the U.S and Europe, with dates including a performance at Britain’s iconic Glastonbury Festival.

In an interview with Reuters, Aftab reflects on her album, the impact of winning a Grammy and the importance of playing big gigs.

Excerpts are edited for length.

Q:  Can you explain your sound?

Aftab: “I think that my music is a surprising thing to people because it makes them feel like they’re listening to something new, while also making them feel they are rooted in some sort of ancient thing.”

Q:  What did you think of your Grammy win?

Aftab: “It was so good to win a Grammy after being such a sensitive, deep-diving and complex artist and being told by the industry that no one is going to care about your little beautiful songs. And then to get a Grammy and also a nomination for best new artist. It was an unimaginable achievement and the whole community was elevated.”

Q: Tell us about the themes of “Night Reign”

Aftab: “It’s about making the night the protagonist. If you allow yourself to be in the night it can be an extremely joyous place where you’re out until six in the morning or it can be when you rest. All these nine songs are somehow different phases of the night.”

Q: How important is performing at an event like Glastonbury?

Aftab: “Glastonbury is iconic. I was there a couple of years ago in the ‘baby bitch’ slot – 11 in the morning and now two years later, I’m in a better slot, which shows I have progressed in their eyes as an artist. It’s so important to play big festivals  and be a part of the massive music scene – not be other-ised. So I love that Glastonbury is doing that and they keep inviting me back.”

(Reporting by Sarah Mills; Editing by Rod Nickel)