Instep lends an ear to indie artists and selects some of the best music from the lot
It’s easy to miss out on gorgeous, inventive music video, singles and albums. Between corporate sponsored shows like Coke Studio and Nescafe Basement, and the comeback, nay, revival of films and consequently its music, as well as the meteoric rise of television dramas, its indie artists who often get lost in the haze.
These are times when music, often the voice of the dispossessed, unfortunately, becomes more about visibility and less and less about talent, and perseverance. But if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and detect the sounds and visuals that make up the indie and alternative music scene, you will not be disappointed.
So, here then are some of the songs and videos that command our collective, unwavering attention.
Natasha Humera Ejaz
From her stint on Uth Records as an artist to her audio production chops on the show in its second season to her stunning, unforgettable participation on Lussun TV, Natasha Humera Ejaz is an artist who has the ability to constantly surprise listeners. Having seen her play a remarkable set at the first edition of I Am Karachi Music Festival, it is safe to say that she has come a long way as an artist and as a performer. It takes an immense amount of courage to play tunes that do not fit any predictable pattern or conform to the norms.
All this brings us to Natasha’s debut EP called Till the End of Time, which is delicious, and far-ranging. The four-track EP features a combination of songs that could just as easily have been produced in any other part of the world. The universal binding power of music can be found in Natasha’s sound without any contrived effort. Natasha’s music has a floating space and self-expression that in many ways helps us in identifying her as a cut above the rest.
With three of the four songs available online and a curious music video for the song, ‘Khwab’, Natasha is, without question, one of the finest emerging names from Pakistan’s ever-expanding, music scene.
In fact, if you haven’t seen her music video of the song, ‘Khwab,’ find it and watch it because this video is just as tipsy as the tune itself. You can find Natasha sharing a piece of her soul and identity as the frames move and capture her dancing, dreaming and daring you to go along with it.
I should also add that Natasha’s debut EP features an applause-worthy lineup of musicians ranging from the iconic Omran Shafique to artists like Ali Suhail, Khizar Jhumra, Ali Junejo, Danish Khwaja, Bradley D’ Souza and Mateo Lewis.
It’s no surprise that established artists like Zeb Bangash and Haniya Aslam as well as the soulful Sara Haider has endorsed Natasha’s music, as do we.
Adil Omar and Talal Qureshi
They’ve appeared in each other’s music videos and are possibly great friends. But when Adil Omar, Pakistan’s unapologetic, experimental hip-hop master, and exciting and beguiling beatsmith, Talal Qureshi, got together for a full-length EP, the result was and remains, extraordinary.
Adil Omar and Talal’s collective musical exploration that culminated in Saturday Night Killing Machine is divine. Here are artists, who not only mock societal norms, but also spoof themselves in a manner that will make you laugh. Cheeky, cheesy and radical, the music that moves from ominous dread to eclectic trap-hop is a form of self-expression for these artists and it’s identifiable as well as unforgettable.
And while you’re lending an ear to the EP, also check out the music video for ‘Nighat and Paras’ that has been directed by Adil Omar. And he carries the video with an attitude that is his and his alone. Talal Qureshi not only makes you laugh by his appearance in the video but also surprises as a music producer. The audio-visual experience, here, is world class and incomparable to other local artists because no one else in Pakistan makes such tripped-out videos.
In the end, this song as well as the EP that accompanies it, is provocative, controversial and possibly misunderstood by many. While hip-hop continues to suffer from bad rep, this song and collective output of this EP has enough musical ammunition and ambition to change your mind.
In a saturated music world that is often misrepresented by bad fusion, and equally bad breakup songs, here is a record that will stay with you for its sheer ingenuity.
At a time when one routinely hears about lack of original content in the music scene, the arrival of E Sharp’s debut Urdu album, Bahadur Yar Jang, cannot be emphasized enough. Here is a band that has put a full-length album, played shows and is now backing it all up with a music video.
‘Kya Maine Socha’, directed by Qumber Kazmi is much more than a video. It serves as a showcase for a band that has managed to put out an album despite any support from any major music entity or corporate love. While albums from mainstream artists like Ali Zafar and Atif Aslam often seem like a relic of the past, its younger acts with few avenues to play who are making melodies that will last longer than a night. Acts like the Mai Dhai Band and Karachi’s premier indie band, Sikandar Ka Mandar, the dreamy melancholic landscape of Shajie Hasan are the first names that come to mind. Now that void can also be escaped, thanks to the ambition and talent of E-Sharp who provide harmonies and sounds that are inescapable because of the honesty and vulnerability they share with us all.