When the Lahore-based band East Side Story uploaded its debut single “Daru Di Botal” on YouTube, they did not even have a Facebook page or a website for fans who wanted to follow their tracks. A few weeks later, however, the song’s video featuring Casim Mahmood and Tariq Yousaf aka TG King made a grand entrance into the music industry. The band’s single has received rave reviews and even renowned American guitarist Bob Brozman encouraged the band by saying that they are on the right track and have the focus that blues musicians should have.
“‘Daru Di Botal’ means a bottle of wine in literal terms but for us, the phrase refers to a beautiful girl. A girl’s smile, her walk and the manner in which she talks is as intoxicating for a lover as wine,” says Yousaf. “Generally, it can be taken in many ways but to me, it has always described the inner beauty and innocence of an adolescent girl.”
The song incorporates traditional blue riffs but also uses Punjabi folk poetry to connect with listeners; the track comes across as a lyrical Punjabi folklore with a contemporary twist to it. Instrumentally, the composition comprises of three instruments namely harmonica, tambourine and the rarely used drobo guitar, which Mahmood learned over the years. Yousaf’s friend Lucky Warraich and Heera G penned the lyrics which talk about teenage love and expectations.
The video for the single is directed by film director Ammar Rasool, who came up with the idea to give a slice of life feel to the video and shoot it in the bustling gallies of Lahore. The guerrilla shoot — an unrehearsed shoot which takes place in a natural environment — required the band to perform live and grab the people’s attention without informing them that they are a part of a video shoot. The duo’s footage of the performance is juxtaposed with a girl’s fairytale-like, dreamy moments around Lahore.
Music is the answer
Mahmood dabbled in the underground scene in Lahore during the mid-90s with the likes of Shahzad Hameed, while TG King has been playing for nearly seven years. When asked why, despite their experience, the band decided to record a label only recently, Mahmood, who has been playing with Yousaf for the last five years, states, “I think there is a time for each sound to develop its maturity. What’s happening nowadays is that every kid who picks up the guitar wants their song recorded the next day and we didn’t want to do that.”
When asked why the East Side Story want to make folk music in an era in which rock and pop acts monopolise the music scene, Yousaf says, “To me, folk music has this earthy feel to it which reminds me of the smell of soil. No matter how hard one tries, he or she cannot run away from their roots, they are a part of us and we like to sing about it.”
The other half of the two member band seconds Yousaf’s statement, “We are not trying to bring about something intellectual. Our track makes no big political statement, it just talks about young passion and teenage romances,” says Mahmood.
The band, that has more than 15,000 hits on YouTube, hopes to stick to their earthy and folksy theme and experiment within the parameters of this genre as much as they can. Though the musicians refused to share the details of their upcoming tracks, they did reveal that they have some singles in the pipeline and one of them will be a bilingual track.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2012.