Zoe Viccaji and Salt Arts collaborate on the single, ‘Jaanay Do’. Instep takes a look
It isn’t every day when we hear of a music movement that aims to bring disco back. But that’s exactly what Zoe Viccaji’s new single, ‘Jaanay Do’ has managed to achieve.
Arresting visuals that include a complete reinvention of the artist we know as Zoe Viccaji, a gorgeous, retro-sounding funk number that is celebratory, exceptionally groovy, and dare I say, a lot of fun, and a music campaign that is impossible to forget, this triumphant return of Zoe is the victory of a music scene that continues to challenge preconceived notions.
The song in question is called ‘Jaanay Do’, and it opens like a mellow electronic dream and slowly and deliberately expands its sounds as elements of funk, soul, and dance seep through. A throwback to the glorious heydays of disco and Donna Summer, it is a song with soul and dancing legs. This is a slick music production that takes Zoe’s musical strengths, her love and flair for jazz and soul and presents it in a fashion that is beguiling and impressive. Mubashir Admani deserves a round of applause for producing a song that captures not just the singer-songwriter that is Zoe but also her strong performance side. You can hear it in the song if you listen closely. At 4 minutes and 11 seconds, the song has various layers that unravel as you give it another hear and another.
The mood of the song is matched by the words and it all comes together in complete harmony. It tells you to let go, of resentment, of past mistakes, of the heartache but without hints of darkness. In some ways, this song is introspective but is presented in a fashion that makes you see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.
In some ways, the song brings to mind one Nazia Hassan and the anthem called ‘Disco Deewane’. After Nazia Hassan’s untimely and heartbreaking death, the void of music that she left behind could not be filled. No one has even come close to her flair for rhythm and music that was ahead of its time. With ‘Jaanay Do’, the retro sound that made music buffs in South Asia fall in love, and seemed to have been lost forever, is staging a comeback. No, Zoe is not Nazia Hassan. But for the first time in a long time, a song has appeared that makes you fall in love with it, instantly and takes on a genre that hasn’t gotten past Nazia’s enormous musical legacy.
Shared musical landscape
We live in a time when negativity, death, mayhem, intolerance and hate make up our headlines and continue to haunt us in ways that are indescribable. It is hard to articulate our lack of celebration that is marred by guilt, trauma and chaos. Add this to the fact that in the age of internet, trolls and immense social media scrutiny that is unforgivably cruel, it is difficult to stand out as an artist. It is no longer enough to create good music. You also need to find a way to market it. Artists, especially those who hail from the indie and alternative side of music, host their own gigs and deal with a myriad of issues when they should be allowed to focus strictly on the music.
This is where the role and importance of Salt Arts (founded by Raania Azam Khan Durrani and Junaid Khan), the team behind the song, cannot be diminished. From Zoe’s striking look in the images that accompanied this video to the sound of the song and the social media campaign that helped in bringing this song to the spotlight and to as many listeners as possible, it is Salt Arts’ crew who had the vision that made it happen.
"Our team worked with Zoe to visually and conceptually manage the release of her new track, along with developing her new look, and re-emergence as a multi-faceted, mid-career artist from Pakistan," said the press release.
And if you look at the song, that’s exactly what they’ve done. This is also the same team that gave Karachi a beautiful night of music when they introduced the Salt Shaker Series and curated an evening of live music with the underrated music supergroup, Sounds of Kolachi, last month.
For fans of the arts, the great news here is that Salt Arts is here to stay. The new single from Zoe is part of a Disco EP that is in the pipeline. To mark the comeback of disco fever, Salt Arts is also curating a musical gig starring Zoe Viccaji, the second one from this team of creative visionaries, set to take place next month in Karachi. Bravo.
Zoe Viccaji and Mubashir Admani