Coke Studio 13 announced with Meesha Shafi’s edgy vocals

October 25, 2020

Like a chameleon, Meesha can adapt her voice to what is needed, including edginess and backed by scorching guitars, she sounds terrific.

Coke Studio 13 is happening. If there was any doubt, a new Coca Cola commercial is reaffirming. Visuals for the ad seem to be spliced together and remind us that it truly is a Covid-19 season with a stronger focus on audio rather than video.

However, in the 1-minute ad, it is Meesha Shafi singing ‘Neray Aah’ that pretty much steals the show. Like a chameleon, Meesha can adapt her voice to what is needed, including edginess and backed by scorching guitars, she sounds terrific.

According to sources close to Instep, the music producer for the song is Kamran Ismail, aka Kami, who is based in Karachi. And this is the first time Meesha Shafi has worked with him. Rohail Hyatt is not the producer of this audio, though he is producing the upcoming season.

Most surprising is how, for this Coke Studio 13 announcement, the vocals were recorded remotely in Toronto by Mahmood Rahman, who happens to be Meesha Shafi’s husband and a great musician himself. This isn’t the first time the two have collaborated but when they do come together, magnetic music is made. One great example is the 2020 gig Meesha Shafi-Mahmood Rahman performed from their home in Canada as part of URGNT x MusicTogetherFestival; props to Rahman for getting Meesha’s sound just right for this audio production.

A version of ‘Neray Aah’ was performed in Season 5 of Coke Studio by Farhad Humayun and Rachel Viccaji with Rohail Hyatt as producer. But it’s safe to say the new version ft. Meesha Shafi, even as a hybrid production, takes the cake.

Poor Rich Boy return with an improbable single

Poor Rich Boy (PRB) has a particular sound. They may play around with it in the studio and tinker with each song but when they release a song, it’s easy to single it out as a PRB song. Even their last release, ‘Watch’ - a collaboration with Wooly and the Uke – had that melancholic aesthetic merged with a delightful concoction of indie-art rock music.

But leave it to Zain Ahsan and Umer Khan for conjuring a completely different single, unlike any previous PRB single, with an equally gritty music video.

The single has been composed and arranged by Umer Khan and Zain Ahsan with the latter having recorded, mixed and mastered the song as well. ‘Jatay Jatay’ features Umer Khan aka Duck, Sameer Ahmed, Umer Ahmed and Zain Ahsan.

The band that was once criticized for singing in English has given its detractors a slew of Urdu songs to contend with, such as ‘Tootay (Huain Admi)’, ‘Kaghazi’ and ‘Samandar Ki Tehn Mein’ (with lyrics by the late Parveen Shakir).

Their newest single, ‘Jatay Jatay’ isn’t part of their album and has actually been released just as a single, confirmed PRB to Instep. Plans for more Urdu singles are probable in the near future.

Grunge mixed funk, soul and some electro rock and trap music, ‘Jatay Jatay’ has music with a heartbeat driving the entire song while the video featuring Muhammad Shah and Soha Ali seems to complement it. The video production team Slugline Films used a strong narrative for this video where a relationship becomes toxic and goes awry to the extreme. It needs several listening sessions as you try and decipher the lyrics, which is kind of charming and elusive at the same time.

It looks like Poor Rich Boy is back with new material that they plan to release in the coming weeks ahead and for indie music fans, there is no better news.

Natasha Humera Ejaz drops third EP, Extra on Cloud

2020 has not been a quiet year for singer-songwriter and music producer Natasha Humera Ejaz. After dropping the EPs It Might Get Glitchy (2013) and Till the End of Time (2015), Natasha is back. Her third EP, Extra on Cloud (featuring four songs) has been released in 2020 by Rearts Records.

The EP is unique in the sense that its sonic make-up comes from different musical forces.

From the four songs, ‘Right Way to Fall’ - with lyrics/composition/vocals by Natasha Humera Ejaz - has Louis J. Pinto and Omran Shafique as producers and Taha Malik as guest producer. In fact, every song has a unique song history.

For ‘And then he said’, Natasha Humera Ejaz is responsible for lyrics/composition/vocals with audio production by Shaheer Shahid. ‘Here to Stay’ is produced, mixed and mastered by indie superhero Misbah Ud Din while ‘Hum Bhaagay’ - also featured on Sikandar Ka Mandar’s album 36 (Chatees) - has its audio production done by Daniel Arthur Panjwaneey, who currently works at A for Aleph, in Karachi.

The result is an EP with finely-tuned songs that keep the indie-folk feel alive while giving each song a strong sonic landscape.

In between her last EP and this one, there have been other musical projects and singles such as ‘God In Me’ but perhaps the most significant effort is Bench.

In the short film, Bench, directed by Usman Mukhtar and featuring Usman Mukhtar, Rubya Chaudhry and Iman Shahid, Natasha is the music director/producer. In addition, the single off the film, ‘Soye Nahi’ has been sung by Natasha as well. She’s also in the limelight as music producer for a song by Saba Jaswal. It’s good to see female artists growing into music producers and songwriters for projects besides their own EPs. This growth is noteworthy and should not be dismissed. Image courtesy: Rearts Records

Coke Studio 13 announced with Meesha Shafi’s edgy vocals