The inspired all-girls band Zeb and Haniya is back in the studio to record a follow-up EP (short for extended play, a musical recording that contains more music than a single, but is too short to qualify as an album) after officially announcing that they have signed on with True Brew Records. The untitled EP, which is expected to release sometime during autumn, will be an expression of the band’s free spirit.
The sound and feel for the new EP will provide an original and personal expression that will keep its classical eastern and folk identity, while also testing out several global instrumentals to bring a fresher, more exciting sound.
“We are feeling a bit more confident, so we are taking a few experimental steps here and there, kind of pushing our envelope a little bit,” said an excited Zebunnisa Bangash, better known to fans as Zeb, while speaking to The Express Tribune. “It’s going to be a collaborative effort, and several known as well as lesser known people will be involved.”
The EP will include around five to seven songs. The band plans to produce its second music video from amongst these songs, and release one of the singles from the album midsummer. The album will be done primarily in Urdu, and will showcase the song writing talents of the duo.
Haniya Aslam told The Express Tribune: “In the past few years, our folk covers have gained more attention so our compositions had been left behind. It’s going to be exciting because the writings are being done without the aim of releasing an album, so the spirit in which things are being done has excited us.”
In comparison to their last album, which was planned with a sort of unifying consistency, the band is now using a carefree approach which means that there will be no overarching theme for any of the songs but rather a form of ‘expression from within’.
One song that has gained buzz already is “The Happy Song”, which was widely discussed during their interview on NPR in America. That song is supposed to be a sort of lullaby, which promotes positive vibes and beauty during a time of darkness and turmoil.
As for exploring the band ‘s future prospects, they do not fear being called ‘mainstream’ or ‘commercial’ in the future.
“This goes back to the Zia era. A lot of the musicians could not make money because there were a lot taxes and restrictions on them. That is no way for any art to flourish,” says Zeb. “The private sector has done a lot right – from the time of Nazia Hassan to Junoon – otherwise, you would not have had a pop industry in Pakistan.”
India, another market that is now being tapped by leading Pakistani artists such as Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Atif Aslam and now even Ali Zafar, seems like a plausible shift since the band already has a growing fan following there. Even now, half of the duo’s followers on their Facebook page are from India. The band said that there were certain subcontinental linkages that entice people to cross over into the Indian market.
“India has a huge classical music tradition, which is one of my passions,” said Zeb. “Really, it provides two things for artists: One is love and appreciation from fans, but also, it’s the great pride of being an artist from Pakistan. “
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2011.