Friday, November 09, 2012

Brewing music in the Basement - Part II

cover story

Aspiring musicians and their big dreams; let’s have a look at the remaining musical genuises from Nescafé Basement, who explored themselves during the show and are all set to make it big in the music industry...

Shahrukh Aslam
- Background: I’m 20 years old and currently studying Political Science at LUMS.
- Music: My father is a big fan of all sorts of music, although he prefers rock and jazz. I wasn’t interested in music until around the 8th grade when I began listening to different types of music and forming my own opinion and preferences. My father bought me a guitar around the same time and, despite disliking it initially, I kept playing until I fell in love with the instrument. I’ve been playing and jamming with friends for years both in LUMS as well as in high school. I am a big fan of bands like Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, as well as heavier music; at the same time, I love more atmospheric and progressive music. I suppose it shows in my playing style.
- Nescafé Basement: I was called in for auditions, but I was unable to attend. Despite that, I was invited to one of the jams. I was expecting that I had been called in either to audition or just to see what I was missing out on. Instead, I was handed a guitar and told to get ready for the first play - ‘Babiya’. From that point on, I was the ‘main’ electric guitar player for the Basement and I have been as much a part of the formation of the songs as everyone else who was involved. The show has helped me learn how to interact with people without offending them, how to collaborate with people who are not necessarily operating on the same musical or creative wavelength or who do not have the same tastes as I do. I am particularly proud of ‘Uth Jawana’ as I felt that the original music for the song did not do justice to the intensity and the force behind the lyrics. I also love our versions of ‘Romantic’ and ‘It’s My Life’ because of the sheer fun behind playing them, as well as the fact that they felt like the most organic pieces that we had created as a group, almost like we were all on the same page as we worked on them.
- Future: I plan on finishing my degree and then seeing what’s next on the table for me. I am not planning on pursuing music as a career, nor do I want to. When a hobby becomes a job, one has to compromise. I’d rather not be forced into a position where I will have to give up my musical freedom for money. I’m still going to play like crazy, though.

Hamza Butt
- Background: I am 21 years old and have studied at Lahore Grammar School for my primary and secondary education. I then went on to get a Bachelors degree in Biotechnology at the University of Hong Kong (2009-11) and have been currently transferred to the same programme at Forman Christian College, Lahore. My parents are both medical doctors.
- Music: I developed an interest in music from an early age, beginning with eastern classical and ghazal vocals. With time I diversified my interest to include a variety of other genres ranging from classic rock to contemporary pop and learned several instruments. My earlier musical endeavours were limited to representing my school at gigs, performances (especially during my tenure as Music Society President of LGS JT) and also a handful of works with the LUMS music society. During my stay in Hong Kong, I had the opportunity of singing and training for a year with a Chinese Choir.
- Nescafé Basement: I actually got enrolled in Nescafé Basement through my sister Alina, who was approached as a vocalist for the team. She introduced me to the recruitment team through some of my cover song videos on YouTube and I was glad to hear about their need of a keyboardist. In addition to keyboards, I also had the opportunity to play my part as a violinist. The show really helped brush up my musical coordination skills as we had a large, diverse team of 15 performers covering a wide range of instruments; this is quite different from the smaller groups I had performed with on earlier concerts. I was really fascinated with the originality in arrangements and instrument combinations that our producer, Zulfiqar Khan, helped us put up for each song, whether it was a cover or an original. I am particularly proud of several songs in our ‘pop night’ category; a few titles would be ‘Ajeeb Se’, ‘Waqt’, ‘Aa Bhi Jao’, and ‘Hamesha’ from our ‘rock night’ package. The show goes to show the amount of talent and creativity Pakistan’s young, amateur musicians possess but fail to develop just because of limited opportunities.
- Future: Regarding my career, I am looking forward to making a mark in agricultural sector research. However, music is something that I cannot survive without and will continue to pursue and polish. I would like to brush up my playing and singing skills sufficiently to create good instrumental and vocal compositions that combine aspects of Chinese, sub-continental, and country genres.

Turaab Khan
- Background: I am a 16-year-old boy currently doing my A-levels from LGS Phase 5. After ten years of living in Australia, my father decided to move back to Pakistan.
- Music: My father was a big fan of Entity Paradigm and other bands like AC/DC, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Foreigner, et cetera. When I was in 6th grade, my father bought me my first guitar. I taught myself to play piano, drums, guitar, and ukulele. Currently, I am a music producer and an aspiring vocalist.
- Nescafé Basement: Pre-Basement, I had visited Xulfi to show him an original song I had produced. After a few months, he called me and asked me to join the Basement. I am the youngest member of the Basement, and I do vocals and backing vocals, play piano, bass, and guitar for the Basement. The Basement experience gave me four of the best months of my life. I am proud of the ‘foreign night’ (English) songs, considering the relatively less amount of time we had to prepare for each song.
- Future: I plan to continue my passion by producing more songs with the many wonderful people I have met through the show. I would love to have another season of it, so I could spend another three months with the best people in the world.

Adrian David
- Background: I am Adrian David, and I am 22 years old. I recently finished my Bachelors in Business Administration. I belong to an army background, my father being an army officer.
- Music: Music has always been a part of my family and I have grown up listening to my father (Maj. David) playing music. So my heart and ears were attuned to music from childhood, and I started singing when I was as young as four years. I developed interest in learning instruments at the age of ten.
- Nescafé Basement: Before being a part of Nescafé Basement, I had done music underground only. I became a part of Nescafé Basement as our mentor (and now an elder brother) Xulfi needed a mouth organ player and I was approached through a common friend at a later stage when the Basement crew had been jamming for a month. Later, apart from the mouth organ, I played harmonium, flute, keyboard, and guitars. The show helped me in diversifying my listening as every musician had a different inspiration. I am proud of each and every song in the Basement because every song is a musical masterpiece.
- Future: In the recent future, I’ll be releasing my single, which has been recorded and mixed by Turaab H. Khan (another Basement artist). What I want to achieve is that no matter what the response is to the music I create in the future, my focus is to come out with good music, because that is eternal, not the fame.

Mansoor Lashari
- Background: I’m 20 years old and a true Lahori. I studied up to my A-levels at Aitchison College, and currently I’m in my second year at LSE. I come from a family that doesn’t really have a musical background but I am lucky enough to have their (hopefully) undying support.
- Nescafé Basement: I was one of the lucky few to be contacted and directly recruited on to the Basement team by Xulfi bhai. The entire experience was phenomenal and exceeded my expectations in every way. The Basement greatly helped me improve and diversify myself, not just in terms of playing drums but also in terms of perceiving music as well.
- Future: Playing drums has been a very passionate hobby for me for the past five years. To me, it is an endless and exciting learning process which I don’t want to constrict in any way. I plan to use every opportunity to create awareness,learn, improve, grow, and, most importantly, enjoy music.

Abeir Shan
- Background: I am 21 years old from Karachi, studying fashion and design in Lahore at Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design.
- Music: My khala used to play congo, and being a kid, I used to admire her a lot. So, I can easily say that she inculcated in me the interest to try and play music. I am a part of PIFD music society, performed on Earth Day at Aitchison, and have done various performances at Cafe Rock.
- Nescafé Basement: I got to know about this project through a friend. I had just initially come to see the Basement jamming, but Xulfi bhai asked me to play the instrument I had brought with me, the djembe, and from that day onwards, he recruited me for the project. Through this whole experience not only did my skills get refined, I also got to know about the terminologies of music. I met a lot of talented people and we gained a lot from each other in terms of music and experience. Being a part of this project, I cannot name any one song since I know how much hard work and effort was put into each and every song; all the songs have their fortes and standout in their own ways. Xulfi bhai has been a great mentor and support throughout.
- Future: I would love to explore and learn more about music and I might take it up as a profession. Currently, I am doing fashion designing so my idea is to merge music into fashion because both of these are excellent ways of expressing oneself.

Fawad Hassan Zaidi
- Background: I am 25 years old and in the last year of my B.S. (Computer Science). I am the first person in my family to do music. My father is an electrical engineer and my mother is a professor of Urdu.
- Music: Since a very young age, I have been interested in music. As far as I can remember, at the age of 10, I started playing on table imagining as if it were a tabla. My parents noticed my talent at a young age and always supported me. At the age of 15, they arranged for me to go to Radio Pakistan for my basic tabla lessons. During my lessons at Radio Pakistan, not only did I learn tabla, I also observed how professional musicians worked and the whole learning experience was really amazing for me. As my O-level exams were near, I had to stop going there. After my O-levels, my uncle gifted me a guitar and that was the turning point in my musical interests. In fact, my first guitar teacher was  Xulfi himself, and I took lessons for a year. Since then I have played sessions with different bands, and composed songs for my own band (o2) as well. I have worked with the Rising, Lagan, and Call.
- Nescafé Basement: As I have been playing with Call, Xulfi knew about my multiple talents and Nescafé Basement was the perfect place to utilise them. I played tabla, guitars, djembe and in one song the rubab. Other than that I have sung for the first time in my life. It was my original composition that was arranged and produced by Xulfi for the Basement. The show was an experience of a lifetime. I had never recorded tabla properly before Nescafé Basement. I also got to experiment with my vocals for the first time. My favourites are ‘Aa Bhi Jao’, ‘Larri Adda’, ‘Raaz-e-Fitna’, ‘Hamesha’, and ‘Kabhi Mein’. Nescafé Basement is a very good effort as such shows help youth to experiment with their talents and help them channel their energies doing something productive.
- Future: The plans are big, the aims are even bigger. I hope everything goes according to the plan. Now the main focus is my degree; I have to finish this year in any case. For now, I have tried all my talents in Nescafé Basement and will surely continue working on improving my skills.

Asfar Hussain
- Background: I am 21 years old, living in Chitral with my family. I have lived there for the most part of my life and came to Lahore a few years ago. In Chitral, I studied at Langlands School and College. And in Lahore, I am studying Musicology at NCA.
- Music: I’ve been listening to music since childhood as my father is a poet and has always encouraged me to do music. I was eight years old when I started taking more interest in music. I participated in a competition, ‘Thumri Singing’ in All Pakistan Music Conference, in 2011, and attained second position. I am also the Director of the Eastern Music Society NCA for the last two years now.
- Nescafé Basement: Xulfi bhai came to NCA for auditions for the show. He selected me after hearing me sing and play the rubab. I loved this experience, as this is the best musical experience that I have had in my life. It really taught and groomed me immensely and also broadened the horizon for me as now I think of music in a more diverse manner. From the songs we did, I loved performing ‘Waqt’, ‘Hamesha’, and ‘Tau Kia Huwa’.
- Future: This show has given me a lot and now I am clear about my future. I want to sing, sing and sing! I am a songwriter and will hopefully be releasing my own versions of ‘Tau Kia Huwa’ and ‘Raaz-e-Fitna’ very soon.

- S.A.

Us Magazine, The News - 9th November, 2012

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