KARACHI: “I had this thought that we hear a lot of eastern-western fusion in music but we never hear any cross ethnic eastern-eastern fusion, like a Punjabi and a Balochi musician playing together,” musician Hamza Jafri told The Express Tribune. He feels cross-ethnic music is unexplored in Pakistan, and has, thus, come up with a new project, ‘Braadri Broadcast’. The project will see Pakistani artists from 10 different language-speaking backgrounds come together to create fusion music. The former co-VEN band front man started the project five months ago, gathering artists from diverse backgrounds.
“I felt that we were not thinking along those lines. In our society, we live in segregated communities and colonies so we don’t mix a lot, despite living in a diverse multicultural society,” Jaffri added. “So, I thought it was a good idea to get the communities to mix their art and music to create a cross-ethnic fusion.”
Jafri currently runs MAD School alongside his wife Nida Butt. The school, in collaboration with Karachi Youth Initiative, helped build the base for Braadri Broadcast. Jafri reached out to everyone he knew to get artists on board. “We just asked the musicians and our circle about their ethnicities and came to know they come from different backgrounds,” he mentioned.
While some of the musicians are professional artists, others are trying to establish themselves in the field. “There are some artists who haven’t broken into the commercial scene but through this project, we want to introduce them as well.”
Apart from a total of 34 musicians and singers on board, Jafri set out to find poets who could write in 10 languages, which are Sindhi, Balochi, Punjabi, Pashto, Saraiki, Shina, Burushaski, Marwari, Hindko and Urdu. “There’s a poets’ society in Karachi called Pakistan Academy of Letters and they helped us get in touch with a lot of poets. Our composer Akram Khan and Tehzeeb Foundation’s Sharif Awan also helped us a lot.”
Five months of work and the team has recorded and filmed 10 original tracks, all duets between two different ethnic styles. Jafri revealed all the songs are about unity and love. “The whole idea about getting the communities to fuse their art has to also do with creating harmony. So, our poetry is also all about unity, oneness, love, brotherhood and Sufism. It’s a vast spectrum, which is great because then you don’t have all the songs sound similar.”
The team has completely omitted the western and electronic style to bring focus to ethnic music. “One song, Karma wale, is a fusion between Urdu ghazal and Punjabi folk. Another one, Tum Bin, a love song, is a mix of Marwari and Urdu. It’s about an Urdu-speaking girl and a Marwari boy, whose cultures and languages are different and they can’t understand each other but despite all, they have a connection and they believe their love is true.”
While Jafri doesn’t have a television deal in place yet, he is set to release the first track online on November 28, and then release one track weekly. He enthusiastically adds that he wants to continue this project. “Hopefully, when we do the next season, we will expand. I want to keep this going because I have had so much fun doing it. We have 10 languages now but there are 10 more languages that we would like to work on.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2016.