A Space For Pakistani Artistes

By Sonya Rehman

Now in its fourth year, the Lahore Music Meet (LMM) recently wrapped up its two-day symposium last week, featuring a wonderful variety of seasoned and upcoming Pakistani musicians and vocalists.

Bushra Marvi . Photo by Ali Chaudhry Films.

Founded by two young music aficionados, Natasha Noorani and Zahra Paracha, the LMM was initiated with the sole intention of establishing a platform that exclusively caters to Pakistani music.

“Considering how fragmented the music industry has been, the aim was to bring people from different segments of the industry; audio engineers, musicians, academics and the audience into one cohesive space,” states Noorani, “We wanted to bring everyone’s narrative into one place so that we could forgo the ego problems that have long haunted the industry and learn from all of the amazing individuals in the roster of Pakistani music.”

Abid Brohi. Photo by Ali Chaudhry Films.

Featuring Qawwali superstars, Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad Qawwal, the renowned Balochi folk singer, Akhtar Channal, and more, this year’s LMM showcased engrossing sessions such as; Synth Masterclass: The Analogue Aesthetic in a Digital World, Violin Masterclass & Dastangoi and Shaken not Stirred: Western Percussions Masterclass, in addition to a number of live performances and interactive discussions, bringing music enthusiasts (and those associated with Pakistan’s music fraternity) under one roof at Lahore’s art and cultural hub, the Alhamra Art Centre.

Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad Qawwal performing at the LMM ’18. Photo by Ali Chaudhry Films.

“The local music scene is extremely exciting! There is music coming out of every pore of Pakistan and it makes for some very interesting listening,” Noorani says, who mentions that she and Paracha spend each year hunting for talent, particularly unfamiliar voices, to introduce new ideas, genres and tunes to their audiences.

“Recent developments in hip-hop, progressive rock and folk pop have been refreshing finds. Acts like Poor Rich Boy, Shajie, Lyaari Underground, Kashmir, Sikandar Ka Mandar, Keeray Makoray, Bayaan, Saakin, Red Blood Cat, Ehl-e-Rock are all great examples of young musicians really setting the standard for music in Pakistan across genres.”

Akhtar Channal. Photo by Ali Chaudhry Films.

“Musically, I think Pakistan has one of the most interesting music scenes because of the distinction between what is concerned mainstream and underground,” Paracha states, “I have met a lot of people who restrict their outlook on Pakistani music to the few who can afford to put themselves out there in the spotlight or who have the right connections. This is not to say that they aren’t talented, but the industry seems to have reached a point where people believe that merit alone can only get you so far. While sadly that may be true, I’ve been observing an increase in the amount of music being produced and released in the country over the past few years; therefore I’d like to believe that this reflects a growth in the local music scene.”

The founders of LMM: Natasha Noorani (left) and Zahra Paracha (right). Photo by Ali Chaudhry Films.

But is a revival of the local music scene on the horizon? “I think the music industry in Pakistan has taken many hits over the years for which it has suffered but has also made musicians a lot stronger,” says Paracha, who dreams of taking local artistes on world tours under the banner of LMM. “It’s a common misconception that music in the country is dead when the masses don’t seem to acknowledge it. But I feel our music industry is very much alive, however, our musicians and the masses have yet to realize it for themselves.”


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