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Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Duo Pop Indie




"fajjr+ali is a Schizophrenic Pop Band to Follow Now"

It was a brisk August day in the Big Apple. Two twenty-somethings walked along Manhattan streets to a secluded music studio. The year was 2015. These two kids, Fajjr Khan and Ali Andre Ali were taking the first steps, maybe with a little feeling of trepidation, to fulfill their definition of the American Dream: record a pop single.

I was lucky enough to sit down with them for a candid and deeply fun interview.

Fajjr grew up the daughter of Pakistani Americans in Schulkill county Pennsylvania. Her father kept a piano in the foyer, which enticed a young Fajjr, “For hours I was sitting there. I was too scared in front of my family. It was just my father living there. I would leave the house, make sure nobody was there, and I would just play.” Humbly, she went on to declare “I’m not very good at it.”

Well, I have heard her singing, and the rich tambre and precise pitch more than make up for whatever piano skills Fajjr may be lacking. “Got to Be”, fajjr+ali’s debut single hits the right blend of light pop with enough instrumental simplicity for Fajjr’s bubbly personality to ring through in the lyrics like crisp bell tolls at some moments, and rich velvet at others. I know I could say a thousand things, just check it out.

During our interview Fajjr confessed to me, rather quietly, I might add, that she couldn’t read music, I was aghast. “You CAN’T READ MUSIC?” I exclaimed, interrupting her stream of consciousness dictation. She can play, and sing for that matter, by ear. This is the closest thing to a scandal I might add. Neither Ali nor Fajjr had a rebellious streak, neither ran off and found themselves after trying weed in college. Both practice Islam and do not drink. Fajjr and Ali are here to show you don’t need a tabloid cover breakup to compose moving tracks.

Ali got his start in music at a younger age than Fajjr. Growing up 40 minutes north of Boston, he was the son of a Christian mother and a Muslim father who’s family hails from Palestine. “We culturally did both,” Ali reminisces. His first memory with music is heartfelt: “My older sister, she passed away, she never did anything professionally, but during family gatherings she would sing, and she actually went to the football stadium [the one in Foxborough, you know, where the Patriots play, no big deal] and she auditioned, off tape, for American Idol. She didn’t move on.” Ali pauses, then opens up, “I haven’t consciously decided this, but maybe her inspiration really is what drove me into music since no one else was really musical in my family.”

Taking the well beaten path of selecting a band instrument in 5th grade, Ali rode through the ups and downs of public school band life. He chose saxophone, but hey, we all make mistakes right? “I picked up saxophone petty fast. I don’t want to say I stood out, but I picked it up fast and made it for jazz band,” Ali humbly recounts. He made the elite jazz ensemble in 7th grade, a full year before most other students made the cut. Ali goes on, “I was very lucky to be in a supportive artistic public school.”

As an alumnus of an artistic public school myself, I cannot let this opportunity pass by to strenuously highlight just how important music is for America’s youth. As many school districts (across many states) continue to face budget cuts and a choice between standardized test preparedness, or student enrichment, often the tests win out. fajjr+ali is a rising pop group that would not have existed without a love for music cultivated in the band members’ childhoods. Ok. Soapbox rant over, back to the band.

Just two kids from New York making the music work. Buy in early folks.
Just two kids from New York making the music work. Buy in early folks.
The ‘why’ is an important part of why Fajjr and Ali have decided to relegate the standard car-in driveway, white picket fence American success story to the back-burner, and go all-in on the real American Dream. NYU had free Iftar dinners every night during Ramadan 2009. Come on, its free college food! Ali was afraid to go because he felt he wasn’t “fully Muslim”. He went anyway, and through a series of events, it’s crazy how quickly he and Fajjr found each other. Both have a dream of changing the face of the country’s music industry. And here they are, joined by Nate Raring on drums, Quentin James Moyer on bass, and Steve Beares on guitar doing just that.

The band’s Indiegogo page highlights what they are all about: an indie-pop duo that hopes to bring a new image to American pop music. Yes! Fajjr can wear a headscarf and be the front liner for the band. Old standards and pop stereotypes don’t apply in this 21st century music landscape.

Inspired by the likes of Twenty One Pilots, both Ali and Fajjr laughingly agreed that Schizophrenic rock is a fitting qualifier for what they strive for in their distinct sound. That schizophrenic sound can be discerned in their second single “Without You”. An ominous track backs foreboding lyrics of tangled love, then transitions to brain jarring rapid fire staccato. Add in rim shots as the thriller builds, then resolve to a smooth chorus and you’re flying as high as Twenty One pilots.

In the modern realm of “anything goes” Pop top 40 charts, either of fajjr+ali’s two singles have breakout potential. In other words, these two visionaries have got “It”. Two twenty-somethings from NYC aspire to bring a new, diverse, image to pop music, and I have no doubt they will. We may one day see fajjr+ali at the top of the charts, and ‘denounce the others’.

You can check out more tracks on Soundcloud here and keep tabs on new music videos here. - Huffington Post

"Fajjr Khan and Ali Andre Ali have a bright future in music (VIDEO)"

The duo, who met in college at New York University, perform as fajjr+ali.

Listen to fajjr+ali
You can find out more about Fajjr Khan and Ali Andre Ali and listen to and download some of their music at the following sites. Some of their songs also are available on YouTube, including one or more recorded in August in The Sound Room at WEEU.


Just back from a Hollywood performance, the future is looking bright for Fajjr Khan of North Manheim Township, Schuylkill County, and Ali Andre Ali of Brooklyn, N.Y., who perform together as fajjr+ali.

Born just three days apart, Fajjr and Ali both are 26. They describe themselves as an indie-pop duo, but are quick to point out that their music also incorporates strong elements of rhythm and blues and jazz.

"We try to keep it open, because we love all kinds of music," Khan said.

They performed last weekend at a Grammy party hosted by the Dove Society, a collective of artists, musicians and creative-minded individuals. The collective is run by Shafiq Husayn, a Grammy Award-winning producer and artist who has agreed to work with the pair.

While not their first performance, it was a pivotal event for fajrr+ali.

"The L.A. show was amazing," Khan said. "We had a great performance, and we were able to do so in front of an audience that really appreciated our music and what we represent. We are so grateful to our producer for having us come out and be part of it."

Fajjr and Ali met in 2009 when they were both freshmen at New York University. They quickly formed a friendship and discovered a common love for the arts, especially music.

Ali has as strong musical background, having played several instruments since he was a child. Khan grew up dancing, often performing the Pakistani and Indian dances that reflected the national origins of her parents.

She also plays the piano and performed in theater while in high school.

Fajjr and Ali first started thinking about performing together shortly after they met.

"We were doing a lot of karaoke, and when Fajjr got on the microphone everybody stopped talking and listened to her and said, 'Whoa, she really can sing,' " Ali said. "I just thought her voice was amazing."

Unexpected turns
Their musical plans were interrupted, however, as their lives took some unexpected turns.

Ali's mother died the summer after his freshman year at NYU. At about the same time, Khan's father was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away a little more than a year later.

When Khan and Ali returned to college that fall, everything was different.

"Losing my mom was so hard," Ali explained. "I didn't really know what to do. But then, I had like this pinnacle moment that made me start writing my own music. I had always been involved with music, but writing my own stuff was really special."

Khan finished her sophomore year at NYU, earning an associate degree in liberal studies. By that time her father was very ill, however, and she made plans to transfer to Alvernia University for the following school year.

"We weren't sure what was going to happen, but we decided that we'd try to stay in touch and somehow keep doing music together," Fajjr said.

Strong sense of faith
Both Muslims, Khan and Ali share a strong sense of faith that influences their lifestyles and their music.

"We're both American, so for the most part we're just trying to be a regular music duo," Ali said. "But still, our religion and culture are factors in our lives."

Ali's parents were both born in America, his mother of Irish descent and his father's family from Palestine and Jordan. Khan's mother is from Pakistan, and her late father from India. While their music is not religious, it is sensitive and encompasses issues of social justice that are important to Khan and Ali.

"We don't want to be overtly political, but we think that we need to comment on things that are important," Khan explained. "When we address an issue like Black Lives Matter in one of our songs, it's kind of meant to let everyone know that you need to consider both sides, but also that you need to acknowledge when something wrong is happening."

Their music also is influenced by their life experiences, particularly the loss of parents.

"We've both lost a parent, so a lot of our songs deal with pain and loss," Ali said.

Special bond
That shared loss gives the duo a special bond.

"In that way, we have emotions that are very similar, and we can go back and forth with our songs," Khan said. "Even if it's a song that Ali wrote, I understand the emotion that's in it."

Despite the fact that they were no longer at the same school, Khan and Ali continued to get together to write and practice music. Ali graduated in 2013 from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts with bachelor of fine arts in drama degree, and Khan finished the following year at Alvernia, earning a bachelor's degree in fine and performing arts.

In 2013, they made their first video, performing an original song called "Let it Rain" that Ali wrote in response to his mother's death.

"Everybody who heard it loved it, and said, 'You guys really need to get together to perform,' " Ali said.

Ali had secured an acting agent in New York by this time, who introduced Khan and Ali to a couple of New York music producers. The producers agreed to listen to the duo, and in 2015 Khan and Ali professionally recorded some demos.

The New York producers introduced them to Husayn, and last February Khan and Ali spent two weeks there recording six songs.

Since then, they've performed locally at several locations and are working on their first album.

At some of their performances they are joined by Quentin Moyer of Pottsville on bass and Nathan Raring of Auburn, Schuylkill County, on drums.

Next steps uncertain
Khan and Ali, who describe their personal relationship as "best friends forever," are not sure about their next steps. They are grateful and excited, however, to be as far along the music pathway as they are.

"We're not working with any labels now or anything, but we're lucky to have this producer who believes in us," Khan said. "Not everybody has the chance to get into a studio to record, like we did. We're really lucky to have had all these opportunities afforded to us."

The duo might be lucky, but their music is transforming. Ranging from soulful to playful, it pulls in the listener and holds on.

"It's really important to me, as an artist, to write something that has substance to it," Ali said. "Fajjr and I are both actors, and we love to tell stories, so I think our songs really tell our stories for us."

Khan and Ali feel that, while they grew up as contemporary Americans, they are set apart from the music scene by their heritages and cultures.

"There really aren't many Muslims in the entertainment scene," Ali said. "We would love to be able to open some doors for others."

With a current societal focus on Muslims, they're trying to dispel negative stereotypes through their lifestyles and their music.

"We want to be able to represent the beautiful diversity of this country," Khan said.

Contact Susan Shelly: life@readingeagle.com. - Reading Eagle

"fajjr+ali's Debut Music Video"

fajjr+ali’s debut music video Got To Be is a sugar coated pop anthem reminiscent of Natasha Bedingfield, but one that exemplifies the mission the pop duo originally outlined in their indiegogo campaign: to change the face of american pop by including stories and people we haven’t always seen. Featuring choreography from youth dancers at Xcape Dance Studio, this video fits in perfectly with music videos I grew up watching. Imagine how different it would have been to see this on MTV! - Mishti Music


Our day started with New York City indie pop duo Fajjr + Ali, who filled the room with acoustic versions of their soulful originals (to be included on their hopefully-soon-to-come EP) alongside stripped-down covers of artists like Beyonce and Drake. The duo’s knockout performance built a great sense of anticipation inside of the museum’s Trexler Gallery as Fajjr + Ali prepare their upcoming release. - Underground Music Collective

"Muslim artists band together to make music, break barriers"

Faith is what brought the two artists together and faith is what continues to inspire and motivate the duo on their musical journey.

Fajjr Khan and Ali Andre Ali believe some things are "just meant to be." Their paths first crossed during the holy month of Ramadan while they were freshmen at New York University a few years back. And as you will come to learn, Ramadan is a special month for the two artists, not only when it comes to their spiritualism, but also in the story of fajjr + ali.

It was their freshmen year at NYU, Ali was searching for somewhere to break his fast and Khan turned out being his liaison to the Islamic Center. Religion was their common denominator at first, but little did they know that they would build a future together based off of more than just their beliefs.

"We clicked from the beginning," Ali remembered.

"The majority of people I met at the Islamic Center wanted to go into law, medicine etc. There were very few Muslims in the same program as me," Khan explained.

Their love and passion for the arts is what sealed the deal. The two freshmen both happened to be in school pursuing their love for theater and music in college.

However, at the end of freshmen year life's twists and turns came into play.

"Ali and I both had life-changing experiences," Khan recollected.

Ali's mother passed away and Khan's father fell sick. And that is when their paths split for a little bit. Khan returned to her home state of Pennsylvania to attend a different school and Ali continued his journey in the Big Apple.

Both Khan and Ali persisted on with their love for music and theater throughout their college years.

Their separate paths continued after college until one day the two artists decided to shake things up and record a demo.

"One thing led to another," Khan explained.

One EP, several singles and a few shows later -- Khan and Ali remain on their journey of making a name for themselves in the music world.

Breaking into the music business is challenging for anybody, but breaking into the business with a hijabi singer in the US is still far from the norm, but something the duo hopes to change for others pursuing their dreams.

"There aren't many 'covering' women in the business... it helps us stick out. We are trying to tap into a market that hasn't been tapped into yet," Khan elaborated.

Khan, who has Pakistani roots and is a hijabi wants to represent a group of people who aren't represented yet.

"I only had white women to look up to when I was growing up," she stated. "We aren't going to compromise our principles...our faith," Khan pointed out.

As for Ali, he too is trying to represent the same demographic -- but has a slightly different experience on being Arab-Muslim.

"I grew up in a mixed household. My dad's roots are from Palestine and my mother was American with Irish ties," he clarified.

"I don't have what people see as the 'typical' Middle-Eastern features. So I'm in a unique position because my identity isn't right in people's faces," Ali added.

Ali's "unique position" is inspiring because he believes he can show people a different side.

"People have this perception of what Muslims or Arabs are, and I can show people a different face," he said.

A different face isn't the only thing they are trying to display. fajjr + ali are focused on storytelling.

"We want to tell our stories, other people's stories.. We sing about social justice, loss, love, addiction ... a little bit of everything," they said.

If they had to define their music, they would call it indie-pop but in reality they are just trying to bend their boundaries. The duo dabbles in everything from jazz, hip-hop, pop, to electronic, which makes perfect sense considering their diverse backgrounds.

At the end of the day "we want to write good music, good messages.. Music right now can be vulgar at times.. We want to appeal to the mind. We want to make something people haven't heard before."

Although they are the "new kids on the block" it is safe to say that slowly but surely they are shaking things up on more than just a musical scale.

"People sometimes question if Muslims are allowed to do music, art etc... but in the Muslim world there is a lot of art, song, calligraphy and people don't even know about it," Ali and Khan communicated.

Granted at times they question whether or not they are on the right path but new, and exciting opportunities tend to pop up for them, especially during their annual month of fasting.

So this Ramandan, they will forge ahead with their concerts and shows and continue to believe "that some things are just meant to be." - CBS News


Still working on that hot first release.



Unlike any other indie pop group in the U.S., fajjr+ali is a duo/band blending the unique perspectives and musical tastes of its founders. Coming from Pakistani and Palestinian backgrounds, Fajjr and Ali are passionate about sharing their musical journey and helping to inspire other Asian and Middle Eastern artists to find a place for their work.  With a front woman in hijab- fajjr+ali have no interest in fitting in, and hope that others will realize they don't have to either.

Band Members