Instep asks prolific music producer and author about what he’s been listening to these days.
o Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, a great influence was English author Charles Dickens. In the case of Fyodor Dostoevsky, his main influences included French novelists George Sand and Balzac. Tolstoy turned to David Copperfield by Charles Dickens at the time of writing Anna Karenina and War and Peace.
What applies to great writing also applies to great music. Listening to a wide variety of music from other artists holds true for musicians and is expansion of the music landscape, both within and without.
Zohaib Kazi, a music producer and author from Karachi, has achieved significant credibility based solely on his work. And we will get to it.
But first, let’s talk about music. The artist, a music producer has worked with folk giants, rock musicians, pioneering contemporary artists who ushered in a new era of music and voices from the golden era of Pakistani music.
So, it isn’t surprising that his taste is as eclectic as the artists he has worked with.
When Instep on Sunday spoke to Zohaib Kazi what are some of the songs he’s been listening to, he revealed an intriguing number of songs.
Songs on Kazi’s playlist include ‘Tomorrow’ by Salif Keita, ‘Achinkad’ by Imarhan and ‘Kun Faya Kun (Lo Fi version)’.
When pressed why these particular songs are in Kazi’s musical orbit, he told Instep that ‘Tomorrow’ appealed to him because of the following reasons: “The intensity, the emotion of this track and voice. It’s so real.”
“I love ‘Achinkad’ because of the grandness of Africa. Somehow this song represents those distance for me in a sonic way.”
As for ‘Kun Faya Kun (Lo Fi version)’, noted Kazi, it was because of the following reasons: “The minimalism, the ambience is sheer genius of this remix,” adding, “It’s like I’ve found a new song altogether.”
Music producer and author Zohaib Kazi, too, has an eclectic music palette. He worked his way up the ranks in Coke Studio from its second season and went on to work with music producer Rohail Hyatt before Strings took over the music series after its first six seasons.
In between his days at Coke Studio under Strings as producers, he released Ismail Ka Urdu Sheher, a sci-fi music album and an illustrative lush novel converging subjects such as philosophy, space, technology, and the universe embedded within the larger context of the book.
In the aftermath of leaving Coke Studio amicably, Ismail Ka Urdu Sheher was followed by an EP called Fanoos featuring artists from around the country with music produced by Kazi.
However, rather than bringing the artists to an urban studio landscape, Kazi recorded the artists in their vicinity, making it a leaflet for what would follow years later.
Fanoos, released in collaboration with Pakistan’s own streaming service, Patari, was a critical hit and even scored commercial acclaim.
In the meantime, post-Fanoos as Strings (Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia) bid adieu to to Coke Studio after season 10, Kazi was roped in as co-executive producer of the mammoth series with Ali Hamza. It was under his watch that Coke Studio Explorer was released as a prelude to Coke Studio, an idea that first emerged with Fanoos. Though Coke Studio Explorer was not released after Kazi and Hamza’s run as co-producers in season 11, it did show a path as to where the series could go.
Bowing out from Coke Studio after season 11, Kazi has been quietly working on new content, which will release, tentatively speaking, later this year.