Atif Aslam talks VSS while Meesha Shafi, Ali Noor and Umair Jaswal return to a new season of Coke Studio that also includes Mehdi Maloof and a host of others.
There is no longer any question lingering in the minds of pop culture aficionados; the last quarter of 2020 is going to be about music, much more than anything else. In a year marked by political upheavals as well as illness and death lurking all over, music has been a source of catharsis. And despite the coronavirus pandemic, artists are still doing what they do best: making music.
Pop Goes The Weasel
Apart from independent music, Velo Sound Station (VSS) - conceptualised and helmed by Bilal Maqsood - made its debut this year. At the time of writing this piece, VSS had dropped its first episode to enormous success and more music was on its way. A digital series, VSS has infused electronic and dance music where it fitted to create a pop series for the modern times. With Yasir Jaswal co-directing, the visuals are a combustion of colour and non-conforming graphics. The performances on VSS are lip-synced; it was done so in an effort to make sure that the artist(s) onstage could focus on the performing angle and not worry about how they were sounding. While VSS did open with several industry stalwarts including Atif Aslam, the story is far from over.
Natasha Noorani moved out of her comfort zone to perform ‘Baby, Baby’ while Umair Jaswal performed an energetic, electronic-meets-lo fi colourful version of ‘Gagar’. His stage presence is getting better with each song.
Atif Aslam added more flair to the show with his performance. He appeared in the debut episode with a cover song, rehashed with song producer Ahsan Pervaiz, he told Instep. In an earlier interview with Instep, Atif had commented that his new music will move towards EDM rather than other genres. His contribution also extends to production, which he told Instep he worked upon with Ahsan Pervaiz.
Post-script, Atif noted that the song was a direction he had earlier suggested to take on and though he won’t throw fans off with a singular change, singles like this are a glimpse into what contemporary artists, leaders in the industry can do and invite others to gamble with. Atif played a strong role in co-writing the song as well as seeing where the production heads off, he reiterated. While this is his first and only appearance on VSS, Atif Aslam is working on new music in similar vein.
From Sound Station to Studio Knights
Meanwhile, Coke Studio, now in its 13th year, is also on the horizon and the revelry is about to begin with the list of artists appearing this season already out.
Rohail Hyatt is back onboard after producing the series from seasons 1 to 6 and then again, having helmed season 12. The 2020 edition, however, will be shorter, with just 10 songs. Though visuals will be a part of the show, there will be a stronger focus on the audio landscape, given this is a ‘Covid-19’ edition and the second wave of the infectious disease has not passed. It is reflective not just in the number of songs but the featured artists as well.
Returning to the platform are prominent names such as Umair Jaswal, Meesha Shafi, Ali Noor, Fariha Pervez, Zara Madani, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, rapper Bohemia, Sanam Marvi and Wajiha Naqvi. Artists set to make their debut this season include Mehdi Maloof, who blew the roof down with ‘Gandi Si Building’. Other artists include Ali Pervez, Sehar Gul Khan and Aizaz Sohail. Rumours have it that Coke Studio is focused on original songs this year, which is exactly what made it a success in the first place. Here we go.
More on VSS and Coke Studio 12 as the stories develops.
All photography by
Insiya Syed and her team