Ali Aftab of Beyghairat Brigade gives a talk at Harvard

Apart from performing live, Beyghairat Brigade front man spoke at Harvard and Northwestern University

Our Correspondent May 19, 2016
Known for the overlying themes of social awareness in his songs, Saeed’s US tour came as a surprise to many. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: In a day and age where Pakistani musicians are struggling to find opportunities to perform in their homeland, some artistes enjoy the luxury of performing full-fledged international tours. Fresh of the boat after a North American tour, Beygairat Brigade front man Ali Aftab Saeed spoke about his experience to The Express Tribune.

Synonymous with political satire and known for the overlying themes of social awareness in his songs, Saeed’s US tour came as a surprise to many. “Contrary to popular belief, my songs are not only about social awareness. I have also sung romantic songs in the past,” Saeed told The Express Tribune. Touring independently of his band, Beygairat Brigade, Saeed said that the tour was a result of his association with Northwestern University where he is an artist in residency.

“I was invited by the Northwestern University to deliver a few talks at their Department of Asian Languages and Culture,” added the Paisay Ki Game-singer. During his trip, the singer also had the honour of inaugurating the university’s recording facility and became the first artiste to record in their newly-formed studio.

After working in their studio, Saeed realised how far Pakistanis are lagging behind in terms of technical expertise. “Most of the musicians and producers here still rely heavily on software. Whereas they use dedicated hardware for each step of production,” he added.

Although Saeed’s body of work does not comprise many mainstream tracks, he felt that there was still a large audience for his songs in North America. “There are a lot of Pakistanis and Indians living in the US so I think the audience aspect is not an issue,” he explained. To a question about whether he feels his songs would translate well with foreign audiences he replied, “Everyone in the department over there was fully aware about our culture and the kinds of problems people tend to face on our side of the world.”

Northwestern University was not the only one that Saeed visited during his stint in the US. He was also invited to deliver a talk at Harvard, where he spoke about ‘Satire and music in Pakistan’.

With his North American tour now a thing of the past, the singer is wasting no time in moving onto his next project: Pakistan’s first folk dance and music festival. “We are already in talks with a few European groups to come and perform here and are waiting to get clearance from the government.”

Saeed had released an album, Gao Suno Badlo, last year that focused on creating awareness about inter-religious harmony, women rights and protection of minorities. He recently also launched Pakistan’s first ‘halal’ betting website, Punter Babu, during the inaugural edition of the Pakistan Super League.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2016.

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