Music in Lockdown: Kashmir’s Shane Anthony on how the group is coping with coronavirus

Musicians have taken a hit, just like many working class heroes. If anything, the music industry’s session players and concert acts, creative managers and organisers are in serious trouble with no end in sight until this infectious virus stops spreading and a vaccine is found.

//By Maheen Sabih //

undefinedAnyone else hanging out in public gatherings is putting themselves and others at risk. All this is only too clear to members of Kashmir. Even though they released (relatively recently) their debut album, Khwaab by Rearts Records in association with Pepsi Battle of the Bands, the group had tentative plans to tour the country and has abandoned those plans for now.

A senior producer might get a project or two but for those whose bread and butter rests on gigs and session playing for other artists, coronavirus has put an abrupt end to activities. Musicians are restricted to playing music on Instagram and Facebook during this pandemic; an idea that is being supported by some and slammed by others.

Kashmir, who released a lockdown version of their song ‘Faislay’ this month, spoke to Instep about the specificity of the effect the lockdown has had on them as a band.

Speaking on behalf of the band, drummer Shane Anthony addressed the questions. “The coronavirus has put the whole country on lockdown,” began Shane, “It is not just us but everyone who has been affected. As a band specifically, we have taken a huge hit financially because most of our earnings, if not all, come from live concerts.”

“Over the years, we’ve done more than 100 concerts. We had a whole nationwide tour planned that had to be cancelled. Other than that, all the concerts planned, not only for the past month but future months, they have all been suspended for now. And that has left us in a major financial lurch because we have no income coming in which was coming through concerts. There is some online stuff we do that brings us income but 90 per cent of our earning is through live concerts and that’s on hold.”

When asked about the overall effect on the industry just as pay-for-concert culture was rising, Shane was optimistic about concert culture. “I think it encourages the industry and helps it grow because otherwise you have to rely solely on sponsors for your concerts; independent artists can get together and organize a concert knowing that they won’t run a loss because people will buy tickets and the fact that they’re willing to spend money on shows is a huge boost; it helps spread music throughout the country. When other musicians see this, they want to get into music professionally because you make a decent living if you have ticketed shows.”

“We’re trying to do what we can,” said Shane about what Kashmir is doing these days. “We’re practicing on our own in quarantine and I don’t think it is safe for anyone to meet each other right now. It’s wiser to maintain social distance but we go live from our social media and we make sure to be as creative as possible and to use this time to learn new skills; we’re working on songs so, hopefully, when this is all over, we will get together again and it will fall into place like a puzzle; we all have our parts and pieces ready. We’re also brainstorming on our own so I’m sure we’ll have a lot of new ideas to discuss and it’s only going to be better because we’ll have so much of new material. It’s a good thing in that context but it is also a setback since we were really looking forward to touring with our album; it was a huge deal for us and we want to spread our album, Khwaab not just online but also hold concerts to promote it. It was something we were looking forward to but we’re optimistic about the future and we believe we will be able to do it in the future.”

Rushk drop experimental new single, ‘Muwaaslati Saiyara

Releasing a record in the naughties (Sawaal) that will go down in music history as one of the great albums, with hits like ‘Behti Naar’ and ‘Khuwahish’, Rushk has been back with an advanced line-up for some time.

Essentially “a pop-rock group from South Asia”, they make songs in Urdu/Hindi, which is their current USP. The advanced line-up since the early days of Sawaal now includes co-founder Ziyyad Gulzar (keys, guitars), co-founder Uns Mufti (songwriter, guitarist), Nazia Zuberi (vocals), Tara Mahmood (vocals), Sikandar Mufti (drums and percussion), and M. Ali Jafri (bass, producer).

Having released songs like ‘Tujhay Patta To Chalay’, ‘Mera Naam’, ‘Aye Na’, ‘To Ja!’ and ‘Khel’ in the last couple of years, Rushk has released a new single called ‘Muwaaslati Saiyara’ meaning broadcast satellite. The guitarist/songwriter of the group, Uns Mufti is featured on vocals, probably for the first time with lyrical material in Urdu/Hindi by Sarmed Mirza and (late night musings) Shahbaz Sumar. Rushk has arranged, performed and produced the song with music courtesy of Ziyyad Gulzar, Uns Mufti and Mohd Ali Jafri.

For a band that thinks out of the box, Rushk has done a very interesting amalgamation of vocals by Uns Mufti, with lyrics that are drenched in darkness and hope; love and isolation and alienation in a way that has now become a specialty of Rushk. The music sways from electronic to slow rock and does have an ominous layer that finds its way towards the end. The Urdu/Hindi concoction, their chosen language as a band, mixed with English, is not something that you hear every day given the orator-esque presentation in the middle. That said, this song isn’t for the average Rushk fan and would have made for a better listening experience had one of the band’s original vocalist such as Nazia Zuberi also been featured along with Uns Mufti or in some variation. Song artwork by Safwat Saleem.

– Maheen Sabeeh

Source: This article was first published here in The News International

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