When the news, that the Peshawar-based duo Sajid Ghafoor and Zeeshan Parwez had opted out of their record contract, broke out in November last year, no one knew what to expect from their upcoming album. However, now, after a recording time of three years and after facing several delays, the band’s album The Harvest is finally being uploaded online on a twice-a-week basis.
By opting to release the album online and offering free download, the band is getting a chance to connect with its dedicated fan-base across the country and abroad. “We feel liberated now that we have no strings attached to any recording company or third person,” says Ghafoor, who took the decision to release the album online. “If you’re in this for the art, the goal is to get your music out to as many people as you can and that’s exactly what we are doing.”
The band is connected to the masses through four platforms namely Facebook, Myspace, ReverbNation and their own official website www.sajidandzeeshan.com. The idea to release each track twice a week on specific days had come from Sajid’s brother Sarmad. He coined the strategy that just like a drama transmission, the songs should be released every Wednesday and Saturday. Their ninth song “East Off West” was released on January 18.
Sajid believes that The Harvest shows the growth of the duo in coordination and overall sound, and shows the band’s willingness to connect with each and every listener. “It’s an album for all ages,” says Sajid, who is the vocalist, guitarist and lyricist of the album. “Whether you are young or middle-aged, you will find a connection with this album at one point or another.”
With nine songs released so far, the album still has a couple of weeks before completion. According Parwez, the band had always been supportive of releasing their music online but had chosen a record label on the insistence that there should be a physical album as well. “The record company had been delaying the release for quite some time and we felt that we should get the album out there before the sound got stale,” says Parwez, who handles the keyboards, synthesizer, break beats and production.
Even though the band caters to a niche market of English music listeners, the fact that the musicians have been forced to self-finance their album highlights the depreciating state of Pakistani music industry. The duo, despite maintaining optimism, explain that record labels have not been very helpful in aspects of promotion and distribution.
The Harvest itself is a testament to passion and creativity. One interesting aspects of the album is the experimental sound the bandmembers have incorporated in songs such as “Black As White” — which includes Sajid rapping — and also in the mellow single “Start from Scratch”. Zeeshan says that the album is a notch above their debut album One light Year at Snail Speed. “Since we are more experienced now, we have tried to add more depth to this album. You will find this composition lyrically mature,” he adds.
An interesting fact that adds to the hype of the album is that the next music video is being shot on an iPhone. Looking at the initiative that the band has taken to reach out to its fans, the fans themselves are returning the favour by offering their graphic designing and photography skills for Sajid-Zeeshan’s videos and other album related material.
“We are the ‘niche of niche’. English music from desi guys has not traditionally been well received but now we are getting good feedback from a lot of people,” remarks Parwez. “I think it’s essential for instant feedback, we have a selective fan base but dedicated one as well so it is motivating for us.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2012.
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