Friday, February 01, 2013

The musical odyssey continues...

cover story

Musicians discuss the state of the Pakistani music industry in 2012 and reveal what they have planned for 2013

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was the averagest of times.
It just depends on who you ask.
So we cast a wide net and queried a number of musicians from a variety of backgrounds about the Pakistani music scene. We asked them to share what they thought about the Pakistani music industry in 2012, the highs and lows of their own careers last year, and what they plan to do this year. Here’s what they had to say:

Faakhir Mehmood
- Pakistani music industry in 2012: Electronic media (TV and radio) generally drives and dictates the music scene anywhere in the world, and it seems that the Pakistani electronic media has pledged to complete the “demolition job” of our music industry by violating PEMRA laws and exceeding their prescribed quota of airing international content. In any developing country, local industry is protected and hence promoted by preferring it over foreign content; however it’s the other way round in our country. Pakistani content is actually getting completely lost amidst these hugely budgeted Indian film songs which are capturing 95 percent of Pakistani airwaves. Yes, the Indian production, masala, sensual actresses, sensational sets, and choreography is a spectacle; however we must support our fledgling industry that has already been hit hard by meagre resources, rampant piracy, as well as digital downloads. Look at the way the Indians had a complete ban for several decades on imported cars and thousands of other goods just in a bid to let their own industries flourish.
- Favourite release of 2012: ‘Saaein’ was my personal favourite song this year.
- My Career: My own career Masha’Allah took off in 2011 with the release of my long awaited album Jee Chaahay after my long sabbatical, and I’ve been extremely busy ever since with live gigs and projects locally and internationally. Touchwood, there haven’t been any low points and I’ve capped the year with a big live concert on New Year’s Eve at PC Hotel Bhurban.

Daniel Arthur Panjwaneey (//orangenoise)
- Pakistani music industry in 2012: It was wonderful. The indie scene has gotten bigger and better and continues to grow; it’s being recognised internationally as well. Electronic music has been making a very visible mark too.
- Favourite releases: There’s so many to list down, but here are a few that have been favourites:
  • Dynoman - Naubahar
  • Poor Rich Boy - Old Money EP
  • Basheer and the Pied Pipers - Basheer
  • Asfandyar Khan - Elsewhere
  • Dreadnaught - Coincidences and Illusions EP
Singles from the entire Forever South roster, Sikandar Ka Mandar, Mooroo, and Sibti have been wonderful to hear, too.
- What I liked and disliked the most about the Pakistani music scene: The one thing I liked the most about the music scene in 2012 is the fact that audiences and artists both have been receptive and open to new sounds and new music constantly dabbling in experimentation; it’s a breath of fresh air. Didn’t dislike anything except for the fact that there aren’t ‘enough’ live shows happening.
- My career: It’s been wonderful, I’ve found absolute joy in everything that’s been done in 2012 when it comes to music. No regrets or complaints! The highlights were making it to Uth Records season 2; releasing our full length album - A Journey to the Heart of Matter; getting reviewed by Rolling Stone India; and performing a cross-collaborative show between the members of Sikandar ka Mandar, Basheer and the Pied Pipers, and Natasha Humera Ejaz to end the year. Lows, none.
- Plans for 2013: More shows, more music and videos to be released, and hopefully a few performances outside Karachi too. Let’s just leave this to fate. :)

Momina Mustehsan
- Pakistani music industry in 2012: It was pretty good for artists until a ban was imposed on YouTube. I feel that was a major setback as we got to see a lot of talent emerge and witnessed many people rise to fame through YouTube since our music channels no longer do justice in promoting new talent. YouTube was an open and fair platform for everyone and we don’t have that anymore. So it’s almost like going back a few years in terms of progress. I understand that it was banned due to a video made by an insensitive person, which was rightly condemned by our nation, but the ban was a protest and should have been lifted after a certain period of time. Although horrible, but that was one out of the millions of videos on YouTube that are helpful in so many ways that include education, religion, cooking, arts and craft, and so much more. It’s like throwing away a whole encyclopaedia because of one objectionable article.
- Favourite release: ‘Jaag’ by Jarar Malik.
- What I liked and disliked the most about the Pakistani music scene: A lot of things. Fewer concerts, small amount of album releases because of record label monopoly, and music channels hardly playing any new content or shows (but that has been the case since before 2012 as well), among many other issues, the biggest being the ban on YouTube.
- My career: I never intended on making a career out of music. I’ve always had a passion for music and it has remained only a hobby, with me putting out covers of songs that I liked on the web occasionally, and that’s about it. However, I got involved in a pretty big project in 2012 and that’s probably how I earned my recognition. So for me, 2012 was when, willingly or unwillingly, I was introduced into the music industry. The highlight was, of course, the only formal release I lent my vocals to: ‘Pi Jaun’ by Farhan Saeed.
- Plans for 2013: I’ll be starting the last year for my engineering degree and I’m planning on taking my MCATs for medical school in 2013 as well. As for music, I have nothing planned out. Let’s see where 2013 takes me. :)

Junaid Khan 
- Pakistani music industry in 2012: The Pakistani music scene is struggling like the past year due to the same reason of foreign content infusion into the industry. Though numerous brands like Coke, Ufone, Pepsi, and Nescafe are helping out in promoting local music, but still it isn’t enough.
- New releases: Quite a few artists made their way through even in such circumstances. Though our leading artists - Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan - still did quite a few projects in Bollywood this year, but other than that, names like QB, Symt, and Qayaas came on the front due to Coke Studio. I like the fact that artists are not losing hope and are continuously working even in such conditions which is very much required so that the industry doesn’t die completely.
- Plans for 2013: ‘Keh Do’ will finally be released Insha’Allah soon. I held on to it due to some reasons but now I’m finally releasing it. Other than ‘Keh Do’, I am planning to release more videos and eventually my solo album as well this year.

Adnan Dhool (Soch)
- Pakistani music industry in 2012: Pakistan has forever produced highly talented musicians and artists, who have without a doubt been recognised globally. But sadly considering the current scenario of Pakistan, the music scene too has gone downhill. Many prominent artists have frequently been picked up for sponsored or international projects, but that has only done wonders for each of them individually and these have so far not been constructive enough for Pakistan’s music scene as an entity.
- Favourite releases: My favourite new songs were ‘Ishq Awalla’ by Meesha Shafi and Chakwal Group from Coke Studio, ‘Pi Jaun’ by Farhan Saeed featuring Momina Mustehsan, and ‘Geet’ by Asrar. And I liked the work by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Mustafa Zahid, and Farhan Saeed.
- What I liked and disliked the most about the Pakistani music scene: Nescafe Basement is undeniably a commendable initiative by Xulfi and has been a breeze of fresh air for the Pakistani music scene this year. Contrariwise, the nationwide ban imposed on YouTube has been a setback for the Pakistani artists. YouTube had made it very easy for everyone to either release their music videos or share and reveal their musical output with just about everybody. Also, all the internal chaos is virtually putting a halt to concerts and public performances.
- My career: Rabi [Ahmed] and I, in collaboration with our manager, Murtaza Niaz, established our own production house, PMR Studio Works. We are busy these days with some productions, all lined up to be released soon. Nescafe Basement was definitely the best bit of 2012 and we are so very glad to be a part of it. Apart from this, our shoot by UK based video director Adnan Qazi for our pop rock song ‘Hamesha’; the selection of our song ‘Khabar’ for the OST of an upcoming Pakistani movie (due to be released in 2013); and, after a long wait of two years, our most awaited video ‘Bandeya’ which has been released worldwide by Indya Records on this New Year’s Eve. All these happenings have absolutely made 2012 worthwhile.
- Plans for 2013: The release of my band Soch’s album with lots of concerts, public performances, and video releases, of course!

- S.A.

Us Magazine, The News - 1st February, 2013

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