2013 wasn’t exactly the most exciting year for mainstream music in Pakistan. Sporadic singles were the only thing that most artists seemed able to offer. A few albums were promised, then not delivered. Televised music shows failed to make much of an impact, till Pakistan Idol came along and got the masses talking. But through it all, indie thrived, as young musicians with a passion for doing something exciting and different wowed us with their impressive efforts.
As the year draws to a close, Pakistani musicians take a look at the state of the music industry in 2013 and offer a glimpse of what’s in store for 2014:
Pakistani music in 2013: TV and radio is way too dominated by Indian content. I enjoyed Ali Zafar’s new songs.My career: I released the first single from Burka Avenger called ‘Lady in Black’ with Adil Omar, which got a lot of attention worldwide.Plans for 2014: I am releasing the full Burka Avenger album with songs sung by stars such as Ali Azmat, Josh, Arieb Azhar, and others.
Pakistani music in 2013: The Pakistani music scene has progressed this year, though the public has only had exposure to paid content. Only the music that is being pushed by brands is accessible by the public, although it is a good sign that brands have been supporting music and are still doing so today even when the music industry is struggling. Pakistan Idol is a new addition and will be very effective for the industry’s growth as new talent will emerge.
My career: As for me, I released two tracks ‘Keh Do’ and ‘Koi Rokey Mujhey’ this year, and also my album is near completion.
Thus I’ve had a really productive year and the next will be even more so as I’ll be doing my first solo international tour of US and Canada.
Faakhir Mehmood Pakistani music in 2013: I think it’s fair to say that the music scene in Pakistan seemed stagnant with no fresh music coming out. For me, rehashed old music produced by certain branded shows doesn’t count for much. However, I liked some material put out by Nescafe Basement, it had spark; whereas, Coke Studio has disappointed so far. The oomph and zest of original Pakistani pop that we had grown so used to seems to have fizzled out, at least for now. We saw a lot of British bhangra-esque Punjabi releases and all of them sounded quite monotonous. I liked Sajjad Ali’s ‘Har Zulm’. However I don’t recall any major album release this year, except for an album by Abida Parveen jee. In fact, our major artists haven’t released an album for the past few years. What I liked this year was that a lot of new talented voices came on the scene despite the fact that they were singing old songs or remixes instead of their own music. Also, I felt that the quality and sound of commercial jingles being produced has improved significantly. The cause of concern however is that the artists are continuously looking towards Bollywood for their ‘one hit’ opportunity and that’s a dangerous trend. Also, I observed that PR skill seems to have taken precedence over talent as one’s recognition! I was shocked to see a couple of non-singers bagging awards for their music – a complete disservice to art and music by those at the helm. There should be at least some standards for airing music on national TV.
Pakistani music appears to be in a kind of state of confusion and disarray; the artists seem to continue to look towards Bollywood for a playback opportunity to propel their careers whereas original music making seems to be on a decline. Unless and until we have faith in our own local music production (and that includes composing, songwriting, programming, instrumentation, recording, mixing, and mastering) we will not be able to arrest this decline. TV channels also need to have some compassion and dedicate some time to only original Pakistani music.
My career: Regrettably, I didn’t produce much new music this year. Actually, I did a lot of touring this year; there were a lot of local and international gigs and regular frequent travel breaks kept me away from the production desk.
Plans for 2014: A few music videos are under production, and a lot of compositions that I have been working on over the past year or so during my tours and travels will hopefully see the light of day. I am helping out a few new artists as well and that in itself is exciting.
Nausher Javed (Inteha)Pakistani music in 2013:
In my opinion, Pakistani music in 2013 has been growing enormously in comparison with the previous years, but it has grown only in terms of quantity, not quality. Also, the banning of YouTube in Pakistan, shutting down of major music channels, and lack of corporate response has created a dent in [the music industry]. Also, every other person is trying to become a singer these days but they are copying melodies and no new stuff is being produced by them. However the young generation is very capable and talented in playing their own instruments but what they lack is the sense of composition. As far as the new artists and releases are concerned, there were none up to the standards set by artists like Atif, Jal, Call, and us obviously, but in our opinion the original soundtracks of the TV serials have been very good and they have set a standard in this category. And last but not the least, I like ‘Eye To Eye’ by Tahir Shah who broke all standards and records set by the big stars.
My career: 2013 was very hectic for us as we were completing our second album, Inteha-e-Rock, which is scheduled to be released in January 2014. We surfed between Pakistan and England while completing this album as the mastering has been done in England. Naukhez has released his solo song ‘Dung Diyaan’ which got a fabulous response from the listeners; the video of ‘Dung Diyaan’ has also been shot and will be released this month on all major channels. I have also recorded a few solo songs and also started vocals as well. We have also recorded some tributes to legends which will be released shortly one by one. The major highlight of the year for us is that our second album has been signed by Times Music India and they are releasing the album all across the world. We have also established our own studio, Chordiology Studio based in Lahore, and we have been producing different artists and bands; we are giving them complete audiovisual facilities. And the lowlight is that we have hibernated since 2012 due to my severe illness which happened after a series of concerts and I remained ill for almost 10 months. That is why we were totally out of scene. Now I am back in action.
Plans for 2014: As already mentioned, our album is being released in 2014 so a schedule of concerts and launch shows to be performed in all major cities of India, UK, America, and Canada and also Pakistan as well, has been given to us by the record label. So 2014 seems to be very promising and full of activities. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.
Daniel Arthur Panjwaneey (//orangenoise)
Pakistani music in 2013: It’s been interesting. Without trying to sound too biased, the indie scene has really taken off, which is awesome. This is after all the next generation of Pakistani music now. People seem to be a lot more open to it than they were last year. I liked the fact that the indie and electronic music scene got a whole lot bigger this year, plus a whole new wave of music shows online and otherwise. I disliked the fact that Mathira is in everything. And that ‘One Pound Fish’ stuff too. My favourite new releases and artists included Slow Spin, The D/A Method, Nawksh, Lower Sindh! Swing Orchestra, Teeen, and Words from Boxes by Ali Suhail. Zohaib Kazi’s two new singles were brilliant as well.
My own career: I released a new EP on my solo project Alien Panda Jury a few months ago. The response has been great; even got a digital distribution deal for two tracks which are now readily available on more digital platforms. The fact that I’ve been playing a few more live shows this year has definitely been a highlight. I was also part of the team for Lussun TV again this season which is always a wonderful experience. The lowlights have been the fact that members of my band //orangenoise have moved to various parts of the country this year, so it’s been tough to make music. However we do have shows planned in three cities in January 2014, which is great. It’s the first time we’ll be performing outside Karachi; I’m really looking forward to that.
Shehzad Noor (Poor Rich Boy) Pakistani music in 2013: It was great, I thought. There was a lot of music, and I think the stuff in Karachi is great and fresh. I liked the music and I disliked the conversations about it.
My career: My career? What career? I got a couple of paid gigs. I wouldn’t quit my day job. The highlight: spending time by myself. Lowlight: conversations.
Plans for 2014: An album with Poor Rich Boy and maybe some solo stuff.
Pakistani music in 2013: I’ve seen some good upcoming artists, like the Nescafe Basement participants, for a change; they were very refreshing as compared to what we all have been listening to for many years, but having said that, I still believe that our music industry is static. People are still trying to earn something from their passion, but this industry needs a lot of time to recover from the downfall. Nescafe Basement showed a lot of potential with young artists. It goes to show how much young talent we have in our country. They did a brilliant job by putting them under the much deserved spotlight, rather than promoting the same people we have been watching for the last two decades.
My career: I’m coming up with my new solo video next week. I tried to do something different this time, made the song and the video around inspirational stories. You’ll see in this video, who are those people we should learn from? What difficulties are there and how to be positive and overcome them? The highlights for me were that I tried something different and sung for a drama serial Numm which was appreciated. I never bother about the lowlights, only care about those in my hair!
Plans for 2014: Hopefully, I will be more frequent in releasing my songs. I know it’s not fair to the people who follow my music to keep them waiting for two years to release a single track.
My career: 2013 was personally a little difficult. Still, I managed to overcome the adversities and released two singles, one with Beenie Man and one featuring Rishi Rich. Both gave me a great response and I feel like it was a good end to the year.
Plans for 2014: 2014 will be all about new music and new collaborations!