Lahore breathes new life into underground music scene

Lahore revives its underground music scene with the first session of the RedBull Music Academy

Mehek Saeed February 29, 2016
Lahore revives its underground scene with the first session of the RedBull Music Academy. PHOTO: EBUZZ

LAHORE: Although the Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) was established back in 1998, it only just held its first info-session in Pakistan on Sunday, at the famous Haveli Barood Khana in Lahore. The event saw DJ and long-time supporter of the brand, Nick Dwyer share his experiences of the RBMA and also liaise with alumnus Talha Asim Wynne (Tollcrane) and Ziyad Habib (Noah’s Heark) from the 2014 Tokyo and 2015 Paris sessions respectively. Apart from Wynne and Habib, two other Pakistanis — Dalt Wisney and Smax — have attended RBMA so far and the session was held in hopes to add more names to the list.

According to Dwyer, the RBMA is essentially a series of music workshops held in a different city each year. About 30 participants are selected from different spheres of the music industry to participate in recording sessions, lectures and collaborations. The academy has travelled to Paris, London, Madrid, Tokyo and Barcelona and will be stopping in Montreal this year. Although the session was to begin in the afternoon it veered towards the latter end of the day. Dwyer began, “The world is not yet aware of the amazing underground electronic scene bubbling away here. The world should know that some very cool stuff is happening in Pakistan.” There’s a lot of weight to this statement, as we were told that BnB, an underground music festival in Lahore on Saturday was the reason the musicians invited were late and the session was delayed.

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Speaking with The Express Tribune, Habib revealed how RBMA helped forward his career trajectory. “Everyone’s course is different; there are people who would start touring right away while others go home and sit,” he explained. “Personally, before this I was working on bringing my performances up to par. Then, I released a track called Sync with a French label called InFiné.” Habib now runs a record label titled Hear Now from Pakistan and the US jointly, and is working with artistes from the world over.

Similarly, it was RBMA that steered Wynne’s music onto the right path as well. “I was making underground music before going but didn’t know what to do with my sound. That’s when I was selected for the project and it has really refined my skills,” he shared. “After the academy, my production changed and it really helped polish my music and increased my network,” added Wynne, saying that his band Orangenoise received a lot of attention through the academy. While RBMA is considered to be a musician’s dream playground, Habib feels its timeframe can be too short for some to reap full benefits as many do not realize the ephemeral nature of the situation they're in. “But it incorporates the culture of each city into the programme so it’s great that it takes place in a new city each year,” added Wynne.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2016.

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