E Sharp Talk Musical Careers and 600 Saal

What do Pakistan’s most prominent alt musicians have to say about their journey so far?

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E Sharp is a Karachi based indie band comprising of 4 band members named Ahmed Zawar (Vocals), Anwaar Ahmed (Guitars), Qamber Kazmi (Drums) and Zia Zaidi (Bass). E Sharp was formed back in 2005. Back then the band covered old school music from 60s and 70s. In 2015, the band came up with their self-produced debut album named ‘Bahadur Yaar Jung’ comprising of 21 tracks. The album was then nominated in the best album of the year category in Lux Style Awards.

Earlier this year, the band came up with their second album called ‘600 Saal’.

“I believe that we are a group of people who have similar minds and influences and this is the reason why we stick together and make music for our own satisfaction without thinking of any outcome,” said Qamber Kazmi.

“We share the dream of bringing the country’s music industry back to where it was in the 90’s,” He added.

“This is simply our passion as creative artists,” said vocalist Ahmed Zawar. “Creativity is an addiction, when you realize you can create something out of nothing.”

The Beatles were his inspiration to move from covers to original songs. “I learnt from them that the best music is the music you create yourself,” he said.

Kazmi described the experience of being in a band as difficult yet enlightening. He recalled it as a roller coaster ride, from working all nights (at the time of BYJ recordings) and sleeping in the most awkward positions, to attending the Lux Style Awards and feeling like stars.

“For me the best achievement so far was getting nominated at Lux Style Awards,” He said.

He went on to say, “I still remember Ahmed calling me, saying that BYJ has been nominated in the best album category. I was shocked because I always thought that you get recognition in this industry only if you know the relevant people. I’m glad that I was proven wrong.”

Zawar said that while award nominations and successful concerts (such as the one in Dubai with Luke Kenny) make one feel on top of the moon, it’s the personal feedback fans all over the country that make him most happy.

He spoke of getting to hear real feedback from people who would write long paragraphs on how they interpreted their music and wish them success.

“I love these one-on-one interactions I have with people who follow our music. To have such an effect on people and get so much love is a great achievement.”

All this did come with a share of difficulties, one of which Kazmi said, was acquiring investments, which are needed if one wants recognition. Investment not only in terms of money to record in a proper studio but also in terms of taking significant time out.

“As we all have our day jobs it is really difficult for us to take time out to make music, record and then rehearse to play in shows,” he said. “I don’t know how we do it, but we do it and that’s why we call ourselves superman.”

Zawar said, “Life itself is a constant struggle, if you start finding things easy in life, know that you’re not performing to your potential. I take that as a great motivation quote to keep striving for more.”

He said that as indie musicians a constant struggle is not making enough money to convince people that music is a career.

“The society in Pakistan will somehow always see artists as people who pursue art as a hobby; they’ll ask you about your ‘real plans’ apart from music.”

He said that a musical career isn’t a hobby and you have to give it your all. The way to go is to break free of trying to please others.

“Art is not a pastime, it’s a way of life, something more than even a career,” he said.

Relating this to their album, Zawar said that every band member understood and performed their individual roles beautifully. They all believed in the idea and power of the record and that’s how they managed to pull it off in 7-8 months.
600 Saal is a compilation of Ahmed Zawar’s compositions, Anwaar Ahmed’s ideas and Qamber Kazmi’s arrangements. Kazmi said that this album is a bit more commercial in terms of song writing. Majority of the songs are fun to listen to and easy to sing. The band decided to put aside their musical techniques for a more sellable approach. They have tried to really target the masses with what they call a more 90s feel.

The band now wants to play live as much as possible. They have already played shows in Karachi and are planning to take these performances to other cities.

“One really important thing we’ve all learnt is that persistence and consistency is the key to success. We want to keep doing what we’re doing. That in itself is a plan for our present and future.” Ahmed Zawar concluded.

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