After going through the unconventional route of recording songs online, Naseer & Shahab, who are known for their melodic tunes aiming to change preconceived notions about Pakhtuns, have finally come together in real life to reshoot one of their songs. Recently, the band was in Karachi to work on “Za Pakhtoon Yam” (I am a Pathan). The Express Tribune spoke to the talented twosome about their musical journey.
K-P natives Naseer Afridi and Shahab Qamar, who are based in Islamabad and Australia respectively, were introduced to each other through Facebook last year. And from there on, despite the thousands of miles between them and the age old stereotypes bringing them down, the duo started working on music together. And the only way to do this was to rely on the internet.
Regarding the usage of internet to exchange riffs and vocals, Afridi said, “For our first two songs, ‘Rise On Your Broken Knees’ and ‘Za Pakhtoon Yam’, Shahab used to send me his music. After that, I would record my vocals on it and send it back to him. That’s how we started.”
Without even making a high-budget video, which seems to be a necessity in these times, the duo’s popularity reached new heights when they uploaded their songs on YouTube. Soon enough, the overwhelming response motivated them to actually meet up and work on a better video for “Za Pakhtoon Yam”.
Currently, they are reshooting the video of “Za Pakhtoon Yam”. In terms of the location chosen for the video, 90 per cent of it was shot in Peshawar, while the rest was shot in Karachi, specifically Frere Hall and Aram Bagh. Karachi was chosen for its post-production facilities.
On the message of the song, Afridi said, “The song is thematic. The reason why we recorded it in the first place was not only because we wanted Pakhtuns to relate to it but also to encourage like-minded Pakhtuns to celebrate their identity.”
Despite their strange way of recording songs, the duo revealed that they haven’t faced any problems and it has allowed both of them to add their individuality and creativity. Qamar said, “Throughout this venture, we have not faced any problems and I believe we will keep working the same way. The only shortcoming is that the final output is delayed by a day or two. However, but composition wise, it works well.”
Regarding touring Pakistan in the future, Shahab said, “I think the best way to do this is to include a drummer and a session guitarist in the line-up which Naseer is already working on. I also plan toy visit Pakistan frequentl.”
When asked about their greatest musical inspirations, Afridi said, “We lean toward rock and I am heavily inspired by bands like Green Day, Blink 182, Alter Bridge and Evanescence. Strangely enough, we fused the non-conventional genre of rock with the Pashto language and somehow it worked.”
On the other hand, Qamar leans towards the legendary rockers of the 90s, U2 and Nirvana, as well as Brit band Coldplay. He added, “We like mixing it up but most of our music is straight-up rock.”
Currently, the band is working on a new single called “Za Sata Pashan Nayam” (I am not like you).
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2012.