Dhool – The Band

Dhool is an Islamabad based Sufi rock band which was initially started by two members, Daniyal Aslam, the vocalist and Ahad Tanwir, the rhythm guitarist. However, the band was officially launched as a proper Sufi rock band in 2016 and was joined by 3 more members Syed Ali Kamran on leads, Saif Ullah Khalid on bass and Mobeen Inaam on the drums.

What is the aim of your band?

As soon as we started getting into the music, we felt that art is a medium of awareness and can play an important role in the process of renaissance within a society. We believe that we can fight social, cultural and religious dogmas which are responsible for the charred face of our society. We chose the way of the Sufis such as Baba Bulleh Shah, Baba Fareed, Waris Shah, Miral Faqeer and Ameer Khusro to advocate the message of the tolerance for the people of our society. The band aims to promote the “Aquals” the Sufi sayings in a westernized way of music.

Tell us something about your work.

Since our formation, we have covered a massive number of Kalams and have performed at a number of various events and universities such as MUNIC 8 City school Islamabad, TEDx Murree at the Lawrence collage, Air University Islamabad, Iqra University Islamabad, Roots Ivy International, Pakistan Air-force base Mianwali etc. We performed as opening artists for many renowned musicians as well prominently Jal, Asrar, Qurrat ul Ain Baloch, Niazi brothers, Saein Zahoor etc. We recently performed at the 7up Fiesta at Peshawar. We are currently working on production of our upcoming singles based on the kalams of Baba Fareed and Baba Bulleh Shah and some of our own lyrics and compositions as we aim to release four of our mainstream singles within the time period of six months IA.

What is that one unique thing about your band which you thing is different from other bands?

Haha, as far as underground music scene is concerned, most of the bands follow themes of their genres such as progressive rock, alternative rock or pop. On the other hand, Our music is a fusion of rock Qawwali based on variations of different tempos and patterns of drums, strums and bass which we believe is a uniqueness of our band.

Which of your songs took most of your effort and in return you expected the most from it?

Every composition requires a lot of innovation and a lot of practice. We havenʼt released any of our singles yet, but all of them took a lot of time, patience and innovation specially the one we are going to release soon named as “Nukta” a Sufi Kalam of Baba Bulleh shah it took a lot of our effort to compose the music in according to the feel of the song. Similarly, our Sufi medley based on the pieces from 7 songs is a 16 minutes longer song and we had to work really hard to adjust different parts together with different tempos, but gladly we received a lot of appreciation from the audience and musicians when we played that medley in events and concerts which was a big and significant factor of our motivation.

What are your thoughts on the current indie music scene in Pakistan?

Currently, a lot of new musicians are working as solo artists or with bands with multiple approaches, which is good for the Pakistani music industry. The factor of competition is becoming vital with growing number of musicians. A musician needs innovative compositions and concepts for his acceptability in the scenario of music.

What can be done to promote musical talent in Pakistan?

Pakistani music has faced phases of booms and recessions in the past. We recently faced a major downfall in the music industry of Pakistan when we were left with only one music channel. Eventually, some senior musicians came up with ideas of new platforms with several brands who sponsored for the cause and gradually the music industry moved towards the growth, but we still have a lot to achieve for the industry. Above all, our government needs to take some initiatives such as stipends for the musicians which would be very helpful for the encouragement of a musician to focus on his work. Secondly, the government needs to promote concerts, gigs and cultural events by relaxation in taxation policies of the events and by organizing their own events in every city. Above all, the promotion of new music television channels should be a priority of the government in this cause. As far as senior and known musician are concerned, they should provide platforms to the musicians instead of discouraging them. Our entertainment channels need to start some new TV shows for music as well.

Who is the biggest inspiration behind your music?

The inspiration behind our music is not a musician but a poet Baba Bulleh Shah, who worked for the humanity in the era he lived, where Hindus and Muslims were living together and religious dogmas and priest were leading them towards unacceptability. However, Baba Bulleh Shah as a poet worked for peace and tolerance. His poetry remained alive and is still a known culture of Punjab.

What are some of the struggles that you faced?

The toughest struggle of all was the decision of the kind of music we had to present and with the passage of time, we realized how music is a medium for the transformation of a society. Secondly, as beginners we had to face a lot of disappointment for catching a performance organizer who were not cooperative at all till the time of the recognition our band got in the underground music scene.

What are your future goals?

As far as our music is concerned; our goal is to maintain an image of our own in the music scene. We we want to explore this industry with every aspect and we want to make music with some very unique and innovative concepts.

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Sahir the Band

Sahir the band is a Lahore based band. In an exclusive talk with Alt-look, they talked about their musical career, influences, difficulties and future goals.

How did Sahir the band came into being?

Well, in the beginning, our Lead vocalist Mr. Minhar did music individually; he mainly practiced it as a spare time activity. However, in college and family events, when he presented his talent in front of people, he always got appreciation and motivation to present his talent on a larger scale through his own band and make it official along with other talented people. It is obvious that when you have such fascinating and God-gifted talent, people like it and want to see you on a bigger platform. So we initiated our band and called it “Sahir the band” and with the passage of time, music, which was just a past time activity for Minhar, became his preoccupation and Passion.

What is the inspiration behind your music and lyrics?

NFAK is my biggest inspiration as there is no one as perfect as him. I always imitate him. I recorded his several Qawali covers and also performed his singles at various events apart from our originally composed and written songs. God has also blessed us, granting us the ability to write lyrics which is truly an art which enables us to write our songs ourselves without needing any other composer or lyricist.

Tell us something about your work.

We have released six official video songs as yet and nowadays, we are working on our upcoming album ‘Ishq’, which will soon be released world wide under the banner of UK based record label “Kiss Records”. Apart from that we are working with many artist from UK and Paris which includes composing and writing for them. Previously we have collaborated with Mahesh Bhat for ‘Aman ki Asha’ project.

Where have you performed up-till now and what was the people’s response to your music?

We have performed in many different college and university events. Television channels including PTV, ATV, A PLUS morning shows. Our official videos have also been telecast on major music channels including B4u UK, B4u Europe and BBC Asian network. Our every official video gets unlimited shares & likes on social networking sites. That is the reason why we are confident that people do like what we are doing and support our work and simultaneously want us to do more and better.

When is your next album coming out?

Our next album will be releasing soon InshAllah. The release date varies depending on the decision of the owner of our record label, Shehzad Sheikh. He is also in contact with some Bollywood producers for dispensing our work for the people to depict and appreciate in that industry as well. We are hoping for the best.

Did you face any difficulty at some point if your career?

Yes, we faced a lot of ups and downs, at some point we also became hopeless because of the partiality based lobby system of media industry. But then, we decided, if you work hard and never let anyone to write your faith except Allah, you can do anything despite of countless myriad or even big hurdles.

Hafsa Ashfaq’s Creative Illustration

We spotted Hafsa’s work recently on Instagram and had to ask her about it. Her illustrations and art style are really expressive and we were surprised to find out how young she is! Here’s what she had to say

Tell us about yourself

Hardest question ever, haha.

I’m an 18 year old slightly awkward slightly reticent art student. I went through art therapy back in 2015 so thats where the whole art thing comes from and I decided to pursue it a few months ago. I will be joining Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture next month for my undergraduate in Communication Design so I suppose thats when I’ll really get ‘cool’ and have fun stuff to mention about myself(?)

What drove you to pursue art and illustration?

Growing up, I was always ‘pushed’ towards the idea of going to a business school and naturally, I assumed it was the right thing for me to do. But towards the end of my A levels where I was studying part Business part Social Sciences, I knew I wasn’t heading towards the right direction and for some reason, I’m not sure intentionally and unintentionally, I missed out the deadlines for all the business schools I was going to apply to. It, surprisingly, didn’t take me long to figure out that art school was what I wanted, not because as some people say and I quote, ‘the easy way out’ but because I wanted to do something that I loved doing instead of spending the next four years studying something I have zero interest in and wasting my time. Plus, choosing an art school meant my education would be more ‘practical’  just like I have always wanted.

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What have been some of your inspirations?

I think, more than famous artists or art pieces, I have always been inspired with people and everyday objects that I stumble across on, on a regular basis including the conversations I have with people and so on.

You play something, that you said to someone, over and over again in your head or look at something for more than 5 minutes and you are bound to see something different, something new, something that almost classifies itself as extraordinary and whats a better way to express it than art?

Nevertheless, I do have people who I look out to including but not limited to Tyler Spangler, Jean Jullien, Karan Singh, Felix Pfäffli, Samya Arif etc.

Have you had to face any struggles?

Honestly speaking, none that I couldn’t get through. I come from a family where pursuing art or design isn’t really seen as a ‘stable’ career option but I also come from a family of acceptance. There are times when it’s still very difficult to explain my parents what I do what I do and why I do it but with time, I suppose everything gets better or just fades away. Of course, there are always personal struggles to get through. I haven’t always been an emotionally stable person and it does get in the way of my work a lot of times but like I said, nothing I cant get through with time.

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What do you think of the artistic community in Pakistan?

Up till now, art itself was super underrated in Pakistan. There were fewer galleries and exhibitions and a lot less awareness but fortunately, things have been changing lately. The artistic community is growing, evolving and the members are increasing in number. The social media has become a powerful tool and a great public platform for people to showcase their work not just locally but internationally. Though, we’re still a bit behind on the whole having an ‘artistic career’ option and desi parents still aren’t ready to replace the ideal doctor/engineer future for their kids with an artistic career, we’ve still made a significant progress in the last few years and I’m really glad to be a part of this growing community.

What would you say to another Pakistani trying to get into the digital artists?

Initially, you love it. It seems easier, faster and simple. But when you actually get into it, it’s not or at least not as much as you thought it was. There are always going to be complications here and there. I think the most important thing to remember is that no matter how good you get and how invested you are in the digital art scene, its never going to be the same thing as sitting with a paper in front of you, pencil in hand, eraser shavings everywhere and the crumbled pieces of paper on the floor. No matter how great digital art is, conventional is always going to be greater and a good habit would be to always try to use both of them or at least try not losing touch with the conventional/traditional method.

Be sure to have a look at her work at @hafsaashfaqq

Yesterdrive’s Musical Ride

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Yesterdrive is an Indian indie-rock band from Arunachal Pradesh. The band consists of five members: Molee Lollen, Liem Ngadong, Haggai Rongmei, Kabir Jamatia, and Teji Toko. Formed in the summer of 2013, Yesterdrive was born out of passion and driven into music to bring back the sounds of the past. In an exclusive talk with Altlook, Yesterdrive looks back on their musical ride so far.

Where does the inspiration for your music videos come from?

Two of our recent Music Videos were shot and directed by our friends from “A Couple of Things”, they are a couple who are film-makers from Brazil.

The Idea for “Dread” was totally by them and we loved it the moment they explained us the story.

For “Ok Hope” we decided to use the rabbit heads as our band mascot is a rabbit itself, so that would represent us. The story too was extensively written by both us and “A Couple of Things”.

How has your music developed since you first started playing?

Well, it did evolve since our first single, “Hold On,” since then we have been trying to figure out our sound and approach towards the songwriting process.

What has been your most favorite place to play?

That’s a good question. There are many venues that had been memorable to us. So it will be unfair to choose one as the favorite.

Have you heard of any Pakistani music? If so, what are your thoughts on it?

Coke Studio, Pakistan is of Another Level! Unfortunately, “Jal” is the only band that we have heard of. We would like to dig deeper and would love your suggestions too.

What got you all involved in music in the first place?

Actually, we all were into music before we even formed the band. And all of us have different musical backgrounds individually. I guess it’s the love for Music that we have in our hearts that made us involved in it.

 What music are you guys listening to right now?

Currently, as a band, we are trying to listen to one particular band or artist. Individually the plate is totally different, starting from Jazz to Indie rock to Pop to Hip-Hop. We are a diverse group (laughs).

Favorite guilty pleasure music?

Oh, it has to be any major hit Pop songs of 2015 till now, that too when we are partying together, Just for Fun!

Favorite lyric that you wrote? And why?

“We kissed 15, the bosses borrowed goodbye

A platter of junk and some cheap wine”

Back then when we started off, all the pub gigs were offering only 15 Thousand to us along with dinner and some cheap booze which was bullocks to us, no offense to those organizers.

Thoughts on the Indian indie music scene?

The Indian Indie Scene here is growing massively. Thanks to More Venues and Festivals that have become a calendar event of sorts.

What are your goals for the future?

We do plan to release newer materials shortly and hopefully some more Music Videos! And yes, travel and share our music to newer places and countries maybe?

Lastly, one of your songs that’s closest to your heart?

Have to go with “Charity Case,” the sarcasm behind the song is something that we all can still recall and laugh about.

Saad Follows Talks his Music

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Saad Junaid is a Lahore-based singer-songwriter currently living in London. In an exclusive conversation with Alt-look, he talks his musical influences, what sparks his creativity, and the Pakistani music scene.

Where did your name come from?

Putting Follows up as my last name was almost an intellectual reaction to relieving myself from the pretense of unique creation. It is all expression.

How has your music evolved since you first started playing music?

Impressed by an older cousin of mine, I stole a cassette from him (Nirvana-In utero) and then thought all things Grunge were cool. Cobain was dead and everyone was on this confused pre-pop vibe. I hate repetition and always tried to complicate the writing process. One simple example being that initially I’d write lyrics down to melodies or a hum and then write songs around one pivotal line or something. After I went through a process where I refused that and just wrote on instruments with vague lyrical dances around them.

What are your thoughts on the current indie music scene in Pakistan?

I think art everywhere is too heavily reflective of the rich in our era. It gets exhausting, repetitive and boring. In Pakistan there is a lot happening and things come up which are genuinely interesting, but there is probably a lack of structure there. Venues, labels etc. It can be this big incestuous circle where everyone knows everyone and it’s a grand circle jerk every now and then with a pat on the back.

It’s common for musicians to be out of work for long periods of time. How do you supplement this time without work?

I write a lot and when I wasn’t working I was recording and experimenting a fair bit. I’ve never struggled with filling up my time with things to do. But of course you have to eat, feed and rent. I worked as a cheese-monger for a long time, which was interesting as I am obsessed with food. Used to do culture writing for a magazine. I now work for an artist at Borough market selling his wares. So I have been working throughout. The balance is tricky but my deal is to refuse work that goes over 4 days a week. You cannot have a 5 day week and still create freely.

What got you involved in music in the first place?

My grandfather sang, wrote and played the sitar. I think we are always looking for places or people to be honest with. Music/writing might’ve served me like that.

Girls seemed to go gaga over boys with guitars, I was quietly going gaga over them, so I picked up a guitar? I’m sure that was a part of it. Let’s blame hormones and hold onto profundity.

What music are you listening to these days?

There’s this band called Big Thief I’m really into these days. Fat white family and King Gizzard are doing some great things. Annie Clark is a goddess, Kendrick Lamar my black prophet. Tom Waits is a lullaby. Frank Ocean is melancholia. There is really a lot of music I get through.

What do you like to do outside of music that contributes to your musicality, a hobby that you turn to in order to rejuvenate your creativity?

I love physical exertion. Just being physically wrung out. It gives you less energy for the melodramatic turns of existentialism-which are ringing out regardless and don’t need amplification. Sports. I love to cook. Watching live music is always good. Engaging with art. I buy a lot of books that I never finish. I buy more. I love shoes.

Lastly, a favorite lyric that you wrote?

We will all die and I love you.

Saad Junaid is currently busy working on his next record, an EP by the name of “DOGISABAND.”

 

Saba Adil’s Visual Works

Alt-look spoke with Saba Adil Malik, an undergrad architecture student in her last year and also a videographer. Her work has been features in film festivals such as the Women International Film Festival and the 60 Seconds Film Festival. She likes to travel, collect nostalgic items in abundance and hot chocolate.

What made you start your videography?

It started from getting attached to Disney, Pixar movies and series as a child. The ability of a film to capture your attention and have a part of it stay with you throughout the years inspired me to try to attempt this art of storytelling.

What/who are some of your inspirations?

Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo Dalessandri.

Tell us about your projects, what they mean, what the process was behind them?

The topic and nature of the video usually vary from the selection of a song to what message has to be conveyed in each video. The very first I publicly uploaded was ‘Nostalgia’, it was about the house I grew up in as a child in Lahore. The process and intention of the video was to convey memories without showing actual people but through the sensitivity of the place and the items.

Another video, ‘Windows’, is more about the imagination of the viewer, where you first experience the video and at the end the topic is revealed . Other videos lie in more of a random interest category where the music sets the mood along with the footage, each video highlighting a different form of art i.e origami in one and poetry in the other. Some are plain music videos.

Recently two of my films were shortlisted for screening in film festivals. Both talking about different aspects of society. The latest one was ” Life of an Everyday Man ” where I took routine footage of your everyday common man and lined it along a narration of a poet . I entered this under the category of ” Biography “, instead of choosing one particular person, I wanted to present the general life of all our average day people in Pakistan.

Have there been any struggles you had to face?

Haha yes, the most common and huge one is permission. We live in a society where at least a girl cannot get out to travel on her own, let alone have a camera in her hand and be out on the streets without anyone being skeptical about it. Another one on my own end would be lack of time to learn the proper technical skills for shooting and editing.

What more do you hope to do in the future?

I hope to keep this passion along despite having a career in a different field, to not let it die down as something ‘I used to do’. To be trained enough technically and creatively along with a crew to make short films that made me feel as happy and alive as the seven year old who saw a Disney movie for the first time.

Truck Art: A Moving Museum

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In an exclusive talk with Alt-look, Ali Salman Anchan, Creative Director at Phool Patti, described Truck Art as a moving museum.

Phool Patti is a social enterprise project based in Karachi dedicated to promoting Pakistani Truck Art not only in Pakistan, but all over the world. Ali Salman Anchan, Phool Patti’s Creative Director, described it as “a brainchild of a team of enthusiasts and patriots that work towards revolutionizing art and highlighting the positive face of Pakistan”.

Acknowledged by UNESCO as the creative entrepreneurs of Pakistan, the Phool Patti team proudly claimed responsibility for revolutionizing the truck art scene in Pakistan. “Most of the truck art designs you see all over Pakistan are inspired by our team here at Phool Patti. We’ve gone beyond just designing trucks, to now incorporating truck art on luggage bags, shoes, dresses, and even furniture. Although I won’t take responsibility for coming up with the idea of incorporating truck art into more things, I definitely believe our organization has played a big part in implementing these ideas” Ali Salman Anchan said.

The Phool Patti team boasts of four fixed members: Ali Salman Anchan (Founder/Creative Director), Haider Ali (CEO/Head Truck Artist), Mumtaz Ahmad (Director/Truck Artist), and Akhlaq Ahmad (Senior Truck Artist).

These four fixed members, including other temporary members, have travelled to countries likeUSA, Canada, England, Turkey, India and more in order to promote Pakistani truck art. “Phool Patti aims to spread worldwide so that people will realize the beauty of this art form and seeing it may also make them interested in learning this unique art form” Ali Salman Anchan said.

Although Phool Patti came into formation eight years ago, Ali Haider, CEO of Phool Patti, mentioned that he’s been unofficially working to promote truck art for a much longer time. “I’ve always been interested in truck art; in fact I started working on truck art since I was 7 years old. According to me, it’s the only art that belongs only to Pakistan. Other art forms are both ours, but also not ours because we didn’t invent them. Truck art exclusively belongs to us, and I think that’s why it’s so important to promote this art form” Ali Haider said.

Talking about the challenges he has faced when promoting truck art, Ali Salman Anchan said “Truck Art is a neglected art form. Although, foreigners have always been impressed by the idea of truck art, local Pakistani people have never been so keen on it. It has often been described as cheap art; our artists have never gotten that amount of respect. People here have never owned truck art due to the huge class divide present in Pakistan. Elites often think of this art form as beneath them. But that is slowly changing, and in the future, our aim is to keep on improving that perception. Foreigners have often described truck art as a moving museum; I hope people here will do so as well”.

Having worked on past projects with the embassies and consulates present in Pakistan and abroad, as well as IBA Karachi, Durga Puja in India, and Smithsonian Museums in the United States, the Phool Patti team looks forward to an even brighter future. “We travel to different places around the world with the message of love and peace, and we intend to keep on doing that. We’ve always been aware of promoting peace, cultural diplomacy, interfaith harmony, and women empowerment in our paintings. We hope to do that and more on a much larger scale in the future” Ali Salman Anchan said.