Meet Nikamateen Rasool. He is a 20 year old musician and student at Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus. In this interview, we learn how Nik is adapting to the multi-cultural diversity in Cyprus, and what he thinks about this heterogeneous community. Also, we have a glimpse into his life as a musician: what led to this career path, the ways in which living in Cyprus has helped or hindered his music career thus far and so much more.
1. What is your name?
2. Where are you from?
3. How old are you?
4. What do you do?
I’m a musician and a Marketing Student at Eastern Mediterranean University
5. Why marketing, why don’t you just study music?
Honestly I debated that with myself a lot. Since I already have the skill, I can continue to polish it on my own. If i did want to learn more about music, I’ve already learnt so much, I can learn more on my own. if I go on to study music I’d have a degree only in music, which means I won’t be able to do other things. It will refrain my growth professionally, But Marketing is something that goes hand in hand with music and is connected with everything actually especially in these modern times where everything is a product, including people. So essentially I you can say that wanna market myself as a product
6. how long have. you been in Cyprus?
7 months I think
7. is there a history behind you coming to Cyprus?
I wanted to break free from the whole stereotypical pushing of culture thing in my country. I wanted to go out and actually have some exposure to like different communities. As a matter of fact I wanted to do my music in some form professionally, I got to do that here and I knew that because I did my research about Cyprus before coming here
8. Hmm.. interesting. how did you find out about Cyprus?
My brother’s friend who studied told me about this university. I told him specifically that I wanted to go to Cyprus because I had already made up my mind so he suggested this university. Then I went to do further research about the country, the geography, the history, division, even the culture, everything
9. What were your expectations when coming to Cyprus?
I expected that I was coming to an international environment and I wasn’t disappointed at all. In some cases, it was even better than I expected
10. What cases, can you say?
Like I didn’t expect that I’d actually find a means to do my music professionally but I did which was quite surprising
11. In your short time of being in Cyprus have you noticed any changes noticed from your first time and now?
Apart from the weather, not really . Actually yeah, there was a bit of a moment in February where there was the holidays and everyone went back to their countries. I stayed back here. It was really quiet at that point but as soon as the classes started it was full of people again
12. So basically,the international community of students here give life to the place?
Definitely yes, I think they are the backbone of this entire community
13. Has Cyprus influenced your personality in any way?
There are two part answers to this question. One is my mentality. and I’ve also gone through some physical changes like experimenting with my physical looks and stuff. Also, the social life here is pretty good and that definitely has affected by personality and has made me more outgoing, social and active
14. What about your mentality?
Well, I was always very tolerant and very eager to learn about different cultures. I think this extended a bit. Cyprus has given me the chance to explore the ideas I already had about living in a foreign country.
15. Why did you decide to become a musician?
Oh my God, please don’t go there man. It’s a really funny story. I was in 4th grade and of course there was a girl, she was my first crush ever. I was too shy to talk to her. And I thought of what I could do to impress her. So I picked up my brothers guitar, took classes for about two months and kept learning on my own after that. Although we never got together coz she moved to Norway but I remember the last day of school i was playing on stage and I spotted her dancing in the corner and taking photos of me. Felt really good
I suppose its not just the girl but its more to do with me myself, think that I could express myself through music
16. How long have you been singing for?
17. can you remember the first song you ever learnt to sing and play?
They were two, first I learnt a song in my own language and an English song. After that I learned hotel california. I remember playing that everyday
18. Has Cyprus influenced your musical career in anyway?
Yes, it think it has finally given me the chance to follow it to some extent. Because I’ve been putting it off to the side for a while now but I’ve finally found a place where i can do my degree and pursue my dreams of music together. Cyprus has given me the chance to balance things out in my life, which is perfect.
19. As a Musician, what do you think is holding you back in advancing your career in cyprus or maybe internationally?
When I first came here to the North, I took my guitar ,went out and auditioned for a bunch of cafes and bars. And you know a lot of them would say the same thing “It’s very good, we’ll try you out but we are only looking for Turkish musicians” and they’re stuck in that “only Turkish only Turkish ” environment.. The music they allowed and the people in that environment were just Turkish
But there was one bar which is where I work now (Barcode in Famagusta). that was the only bar that said we want English music. I think because by supporting English music, they’re actually filling a very big gap in the market. A lot of people from different communities come there. make new friends and feel really happy. Which means there’s huge need for English music because there’s a very big internationally community here with people from all around the globe and these people have one major thing in common. Other than their mother tongues, they all speak English
20. What do you think is the solution to this issue?
I think the solution is for them to give English a chance. There could be a midway i suppose, where the international people absorb the Cyprus culture and vise versa. Also, entrepreneurs and investors should think more innovative and realize that there are international talents, not just Turks or Greek Cypriot talents that could even be popular, not just here but all around the world
21. Due to the fact that English is a universal language, in a very diverse place as this with people from all parts of the world, would you say that English/English music is something that unites people?
22. Due to the fact that you haven’t been on Cyprus for up to a year, how are you adapting to people from other nationalities?
Honestly, i get along with people from other countries more than people here from my own country.
23. Really? why?
Man, I’ve always been a bit of a Black Swan in my won country. I didn’t exactly fit in. So coming here it feels like I’m actually getting more of a chance to fit here because the people i’m meeting here they’re a lot like me regardless of where they’re from.
24. From your own point of view, how do you feel about the relationship between other nationalities?
I think generally people are peaceful and they get along with each other. As far as I know, and i only gravitate towards those kind of people. So even if there is some other spectrum of it anyway, i probably wont be aware
25. Have you ever been discriminated in any way?
Not at all man. But I don’t know if this is like discrimination or not but most people the moment they ask me where I’m from and I’m like “I’m from Pakistan” , They look at me at me with surprise like “OH, REALLYYY???”
in my mind I’m like ” is it that bad, is Pakistan than bad?” but we all laugh afterwards
The other day I was in a cab and the driver asked where I’m from. I told him Pakistan and he was like “oh you look Italian”.
“I was like really? you just made my night.. Thank you so much”
26. So you’d rather look Italian than Pakistani?
Whenever somebody says that I look like some other race, it just feels kinda nice to me because it just means that i don’t have a typical face. I just don’t wanna look typical
27. Coming from a place with a certain culture and lifestyle, How do you feel about living with people whose lifestyle is different from yours?
I crave it, honestly speaking. I always wanted to expand my horizon and learn more about different cultures, even in my back in my own country, I was always preoccupied with thinking about the world, concepts that were more to do with stuffs outside my country. I never liked to put my thoughts into a box you know. I want them to go all over the place and I wanna learn whatever I can. Life is short man, i think you should take in as much as you can.
28. Has Cyprus ever given you any reason to question your identity?
Oh man, I question my identity all the time regardless of Cyprus. I mean if you don’t question who you are, you loose that basic human instinct; Curiously, wondering about yourself and asking yourself questions like “Who are you? is this how you how you really define yourself etc So yeah, its like a regular thing for me
29. how do you see the country in the next 10 years?
I hope this keeps going on you know, as far as I see it right now, I see like this progressive change going on and Cyprus is getting more and more modernized. I don’t know about the southern side but this side is starting to develop into a country that is in tuned with international cultures and tourism and people form other countries.
I think in the next ten years, it might actually be something like a hot pot of cultures
30. what do you think Cyprus could learn from your country?
31. Everyone speaks English in Pakistan?
Well, I live in the capital and the majority speak English
32. what do you think your country could learn from Cyprus?
They can learn a bit of secularity I suppose and giving everyone the chance to sound their opinion, live their own lives and have their own practices. This is something that is not too emphasized in some countries
33. What’s your definition of fun and what do you do for fun?
I guess it varies. I do perform, I enjoy doing that. Sometimes I also have a bit of a wild night, got dancing in the club with a couple of friends. I also find pleasure in having intellectual conversations with people. It may seem boring but it actually quite fun especially when you meet someone that is fun to talk to
34. What makes you happy?
For me happiness is balance, if you can balance life, you can balance everything. You’re not too much towards everything. Balance in the sense that you can balance your social life, work,education, financial situation, whatever and just keep moving forward
35. What is the one thing you’d love to change about yourself?
Interviewer: What?? why does everyone keep on saying that? the last person interviewed said the exact same thing
36. If you had 3 wishes, what would you wish for?
world peace, vocal range of Bruno Mars, living up to all my life expectations
37. what quote do you live by?
“you never stop learning”
38. What’s your push? whats keeps you going? that thing that makes you wake up in the morning to go out and accomplish your goals?
I wanna keep my dream alive but I wanna keep my life stable as well. There are a lot of people who might start dreaming to the extent they become delusional. I don’t wanna go down that path but I don’t want to give it up entirely either to just studying all day and waiting to get a 9-5 office job, I don’t see myself in that position. Everyday I wake up so I can avoid living a mundane life, i want there to be fireworks
39. what is the question you were expecting that I didn’t ask?
Something about relationships. I was surprised you didn’t ask. I thought that’s like the common thing for any interview.
Nik performs every Wednesday at Barcode in Famgusta. If you live in Cyprus or you’re visiting, you should definitely stop by to say hi, relax and listen to good English music, its a very chilled place with an international atmosphere located along salamis road just right next to Eastern Mediterranean University campus… In the mean time, listen to his latest cover. See you on Wednesday at Barcode 🙂