Ibrahim Imdad, who was born in Multan and moved to Lahore at the age of one or two years, is a musician better known as Gentle Robot. He released his debut EP, Feel, in 2017 featuring multiple collaborations with artists such as Natasha Noorani, Sameen Qasim and Varqa Faraid (Saakin). He has been associated with bands like Keeray Makoray, Janoobi Khargosh, and Takatak in the past. But 2018 proved to be the breakthrough year for him when he released the single ‘Slow’.
Singer-songwriter Gentle Robot, on ‘Slow’ has a sound that, to me, is akin to Wilco and Ryan Adams, when vulnerable as well as the musicianship of a group like Radiohead and Death Cab for Cutie. Of course, that happens when you find a song that connects you to some of your favourite artists. You might find hints of your favourite ones. With a stunning animated video to go with ‘Slow’, it is a near perfect song. And that is such a rare quality, making me, at least impatient for his upcoming second EP, Breathe.
Talking to Instep about why he chose to go with the moniker Gentle Robot and not something else, he notes, “It is another word for myself; I’m describing myself basically,” before adding, “I’ve been very quiet and shy most of my life. I’ve kept my emotions and thoughts to myself. And I’ve always been passive as well so that’s where the ‘gentle’ comes from I guess.”
Gentle Robot agrees that his breakout song is ‘Slow’. Lyrically, ‘Slow’ has Gentle Robot putting himself out there as he sings, “In my mind, it unwinds, all my thoughts perceiving/What I feared all along/At a glance, we advance, in our plight achieving/What was written in my song, but Slowly/ our world starts to change/Infected by words cold and grey...”
When asked what the song is really about, he says, “The songs I wrote for Feel (2017) had a more depressing and anxiety-based undertones. For my next album, Breathe, I wanted to do something different because I was starting to feel like I was making music only when I was depressed. I feel motivated when I’m down, it just comes naturally to me so I wanted to challenge myself, even though ‘Slow’ is also about something depressing and sad, I wanted to give it bit of an uplifting feel to it.”
Gentle Robot notes he’s trying to challenge himself with his second album, Breathe. “I can’t change the fact that I’m inspired to write songs when I’m sad but I can try and give the composition some uplifting feels. The entire album is going to be based around this concept.”
The first song from Breathe was ‘Slow’ and the next single, says Gentle Robot, is going to come out in a week or two.
The animated music video for ‘Slow’ meanwhile reveals Gentle Robot, was also done by him but not the complete music video. “The last part of the music video, the white background, animation – that was all done by a friend of mine, Zainab Zulfiqar. I always wanted to make an animated video; I like creating things with my own hands from scratch. The next video is being directed by Hadi Rehman, he’s taking complete control and it will have actual people in it.”
“For the video after that, I’m working on an animated video but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to finish it. I’m very passionate about this stuff so I want to do it right.”
The 30-year-old is the chief marketing officer for an E-commerce company and that takes most of his time. It resulted in him leaving bands such as Takatak, Janoobi Khargosh and Keeray Makoray. “Work comes first even though Keeray Makoray boys have been trying to get me to play bass on their new songs. I just don’t have the time. I played synth on ‘Almost Tuesday’ by Poor Rich Boy as a featuring artist but I am on good terms with all of them. It’s a small, very close community.”
Addressing a question on whether Gentle Robot is a bedroom producer, Gentle Robot says, “I produced my first album, mixed, mastered it myself. For Breathe, I spoke to Adeel Tahir from Karachi, also known as Eridu, and we kind of decided to collaborate on this album. He produces the music; I compose everything.”
Gentle Robot admits he’d be very upset if he’s unable to release Breathe in 2019. “Breathe will contain 7-8 songs,” he concluded.