In 2015, artists as diverse as Sachal Studios, Jimmy Khan, Rakae Jamil and Ali Suhail participated in the two-day event thatcelebrates music and promotes it as an art form across genres.
Instep speaks to Natasha Noorani, the co-founder of Lahore Music Meet, as the festival gears up for its second edition scheduled to take off later this year.
First, let’s talk a little about Lahore Music Meet 2016. Can you tell us a bit about the artists who will be participating this year?
Natasha Noorani: LMM 2016 is currently under construction. We’re working on developing the conversation from where we left it off last year. The artists and the performers will be under wraps till we step into March. But we promise it’ll be just as exciting last year if not more.
Tell us a bit about your beginnings?
NN: The idea came about while one of us was slacking off in class and it just grew from there. The founding members Zahra Paracha, Hasan Abbas, Noor Habib and Ayesha Haroon and myself are all musicians in some way or form and were driven to create an event that catered towards the celebration of music.
Why did you decide to launch this festival in Lahore in the first place?
NN: In Lahore, music seemed to be a little disconnected and sporadic so it seemed like a good idea to bring everyone together in a space where they could network, discuss ideas and potential solutions to problems. This works for both the musician and the audience.
Why is it important for people to be exposed to different kinds of music and genres?
NN: The avenues for music are limited at this point. There seems to be a stagnation in how people in Pakistan consume music (limited TV channels, Soundcloud etc) so the Music Meet itself is attempting to provide people with an opportunity to learn about new music or even old music that they may not have come across. In the midst of all of this, they’re also interacting with musicians and academics and fellow music enthusiasts so it becomes something like a celebration of music for two days.
How have artists responded to LMM?
NN: Artists have been nothing but supportive. Our LMM Alumni has given us nothing but love and encouragement which is something we’re eternally grateful for. Many speakers and musicians went out of their way to attend the event last year and have been just as enthusiastic about the event as the LMM team.
Why should people see-attend the festival?
NN: It’s a chance to explore the music of one’s country. It’s about taking a step towards taking ownership of the music coming out of Pakistan. We don’t limit ourselves to one genre or one musicality. We want that there should be something for everyone’s taste and then some. It’s a great platform for discovering and unearthing the phenomenal music that is coming out of Pakistan in a colourful casual setting. It’s great to see families out together just enjoying different types of music or discussions.
Do you see similarities between literature and music. I ask because in many ways it reminds one of literary festivals like LLF and KLF.
NN: All art forms are intertwined; however, it is crucial to ensure that each art form then gets its own domain. The structure of festivals like LLF and KLF has been around for many years worldwide and has provided an interesting platform for the discussion of the arts which is possibly why you may notice the similarity.
How do you go about financing this festival?
NN: We reach out to various sponsors and patrons to help us take things forward. Since the event isnt commercial in nature we often find it hard to convince companies to help us but we’ve had some very excellent partners to help us make this event a reality including the Al Hamra Arts Council, Sachal Studios, Millat Tractors, PTCL and so on. Since we’re a non-profit, the aim is to ensure all artists get paid and that the event lives up to a standard of nurturing a great environment for music.
What sort of attendance numbers are you anticipating?
NN: Last year we had close to 15,000 people in attendance on both days. That was only through the power of social media. This year we’re expecting more since we’ve established ourselves since last year and will be putting in more efforts to reach out to more people.
For visitors and participants alike, how do you create community within the festival grounds?
NN: LMM started in 2015 so this will be the second year in a row. Since we all grew up going to colourful melas and fairs, which are family friendly, we try to create a similar environment in terms of aesthetics. Anyone who attended last year’s event will know it’s a comfortable space no matter what their preferences are musically. The reason it’s called Lahore Music Meet and not Lahore Music Festival is because we expect just that. Our tagline is Lahore, meet music. Music, meet Lahore. Because we want to promote that sense of community within the festival itself where it’s alright to approach your favourite musician or speaker and just start a casual conversation with them. Or to just come out with your family and friends and soak in the sun and live music.
In your opinion, what is it about music that gets people so excited for it?
NN: Music is something that transcends social boundaries which is what is so appealing for us. In Urdu, the name for the festival is Lahore Mehfil-e-Mauseeqi and our talks are in various languages including English, Urdu and Punjabi so that we do not exclude anyone from participating in the event even as an audience member.