KARACHI: Pakistan’s musical scenario is forever going through ups and downs. Fortunately, the recent revival of the film industry has given our musicians some much-needed support. Ahmed Ali Butt, best known for being the rapper of EP, is one such individual.
The singer-cum-actor has joined hands with legendary folk singer Arif Lohar for a the title track of his upcoming film Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 (JPNA2). The Express Tribune caught up with the two artists to find out more about their alliance.
The Express Tribune (ET): So tell us…How did this collaboration come about?
Ahmed Ali Butt (AAB): I’ve known Arif bhai all my life and always been a huge fan. I tried collaborating with him during my EP days too but, unfortunately, it didn’t work out. While creating the JPNA2 title track, I already knew I wanted to collaborate with him. It took me six months to fulfill this dream and get him in the studio. I made the track specifically with his vocals in mind as I wanted to rap along to them.
ET: What kind of a song will it be?
AAB: The song is a power house, bhangra rap. Arif bhai is known for his dominant vocals and the pure energy he exhibits. I wanted to mix that up and do something fun and energetic. Thanks to the producer Hasil Kureshi, it sounds insane!
ET: While folk and rap are two very different genres, do you think there are any similarities?
AAB: While folk is all about traditional melodies, rap is contemporary and groove-based. What makes both of them similar are the poetry and rhymes. Mixing the two is always difficult and requires a lot of planning as it can easily go sideways. Luckily, Arif bhai loved our song and brought his unique touch to it while Hasil maintained the freshness.
ET: Why haven’t you done music in a long time? Fans have been waiting.
AAB: I’m not inspired easily. After EP, the music scene in Pakistan was dead. There are no music channels anymore, nor is music being promoted anywhere. Most of us musicians don’t solely depend on it as it’s not a sustainable career anymore.
But I can’t let go of music either because it’s deeply imbedded in me. I always make sure that I do one song in awards shows or films.
ET: What do you enjoy more, music or acting?
AAB: Both! I’m a visual person! I think visually and for me to think, I need music, which gives me that visual. It’s like riding a bicycle: you push down on one pedal and the other one comes up. I don’t think I can ever choose one.
ET: What do you think about the current music scenario in Pakistan?
AAB: It’s a sad state of affair. Almost all singers are now actors. With no support from the government, the music industry has managed to stay alive but with everything going digital, no one pays for music anymore.
For musicians, it’s very important to make money and stay in the current music scene. That can only work with music videos and concerts; neither of which is happening in Pakistan. We have to bring the concert culture back if musicians are to exist.
ET: Do you think there’s a need for folk music in Pakistani films?
Arif Lohar (AL): Music is a never-ending, experimental process. Whether or not there is a need for it now entirely depends on the nature and type of film, as well as the scenes in it.
ET: Are you planning to create music for more films after this?
AL: My passion for music is as strong today as the day I decided to enter this field. I am open to new ideas and collaborations.
ET: How was it like working with each other?
AAB: It was amazing! Arif bhai is a humble soul and very funny. He took his time getting comfortable with the melody and created magic in the studio. He kept asking if anything had to be redone, which makes him great. He respects and honours his work.
AL: Each song is a whole new experience. It’s an opportunity to put your creativity to test and challenge yourself. Ahmed is like an engine of fresh ideas who likes to keep innovating so I enjoyed working with him and look forward to more projects.
ET: Arif, we know Ahmed is in the film. Will we you be making a cameo?
AL: Well…I think I would like to keep my fans guessing!
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