Back To Their Roots: Krewella Talks Pakistan And Collaborations In Their Homeland

By Sonya Rehman        

Popular electronic dance music (EDM) sister-duo, Jahan Yousaf and Yasmine Yousaf (of the band, Krewella), revealed that their recent collaboration with Pakistani artistes for the music series, Coke Studio, was “unlike any other creative experience” they had ever had.

Yasmine Yousaf and Jahan Yousaf of Krewella. Photo by: Nikko Lamere

Teaming up with Riaz Qadri, a classical music maestro, and his son, Ghulam Ali Qadri, on the platform’s 11th season, this August, the song, Runaway, made waves following its release, clocking up over 2 million hits on Youtube.

Having performed at Coachella, Lollapalooza, Tomorrowland, and a number of other concerts, festivals and international tours over the years, Krewella stands as one of the most exciting acts in music today. Constantly pushing the envelope, the duo has produced a number of hit tracks such as Alive (which climbed its way up to number 32 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 2013), Somewhere to Run, Killin’ It, Live for the Night, and more. Embracing their European and Pakistani roots, clearly reflected in their music, Jahan states that the band’s trip to Pakistan this summer, was a heartwarming journey.

“Experiencing Pakistan was a pure joy. We were thrilled on the whole trip. I didn’t want to sleep or leave – I was too excited to explore and understand the land my ancestors are from,” she says, adding, “To be in [our father’s] homeland and experience the level of professionalism, creative energy, positive vibes, and dedication to the craft from fellow Pakistanis was so important. Because this is a side of Pakistan that mainstream media in the West does not portray, unfortunately. To witness this with our own eyes further motivated us to continue digging into our cultural roots and shining the light on the beautiful traditions, sounds, values, and aesthetic of the region.”

But their foray into the American music industry after the formation of their band in 2008, finding their footing in the EDM sphere was nothing short of a struggle. “There was a lot of rejection or a lack of response,” she says, “But you have to realize that this builds character and the empty shows build thick skin. This process is never-ending though. Even once you attain a certain amount of success, you still have to be prepared for future challenges and accept that artists go through ebbs and flows. That is where inspiration comes from. Those moments feed future creativity.”

Krewella. Photo by: Warren Manegan

With songs that have explored themes of female empowerment, unity and bullying under their belt, Yasmine recognizes the power of music as a tool to highlight pertinent issues. “As a musician, I know how important and powerful a song or album can be,” she says, “There [have been] so many moments in our career where people have told us that our music has brought them out of a hard time. I can relate to that, because my favorite music has done the same for me. It can truly be a healer through some of the worst crises in life.”

“The only purpose is self expression, and in that process, you just have to have faith that our creative work will heal people in the same way it healed us to make the art,” Jahan says.

Recently performing in Germany, Austria, New York, Hawaii, Korea and Taiwan, towards the tail-end of 2018, Jahan reveals that over the past few years of touring, the sisters (much to their excitement) have continued to see a number of Pakistani flags at their shows around the world. “[It] literally makes my night and the sight never gets old.”

Currently open to collaborating with more Pakistani artistes in the near future, Jahan states that to stay afloat in a competitive music industry, musicians need to first recognize what it is that they truly seek.

“Some people are predominantly ego-driven and might be constantly striving for power and relevance,” she says, “And that’s fine if this is how they thrive. I have been seduced by this way of thinking about myself in the world and I don’t like it. When I feel myself succumbing to the temptations of the ego that drive me to constantly be on top and compete with others, I feel like this stifles my creativity. Yasmine and I are at a point where we just want to create learn more about ourselves and how our minds work, and also to allow our emotions to have a canvas to exist on.”


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