Brothers in rhythm

Shallum Xavier is a name that most people in the music industry - old and new - recognise and admire.


Express July 18, 2010

Shallum Xavier is a name that most people in the music industry - old and new - recognise and admire, but there’s another Xavier to pay attention to. Shallum’s brother, Simien, launched his debut video “Pal Bhar” earlier this year.

The musician’s band called Opus was formed four years ago and he had been on a hunt to find a sponsor who could produce the video. Since that did not work out, Simien Xavier joined the new crop of musicians who are increasingly funding their own projects, and made his first video. Simien says, “It is an artist’s dream to make a video.

But it certainly is expensive to make one in the country. You need to pool your resources together.” When asked what the basic problem in the music industry is, he cites political instability and Indo-Pak relations, which were affected after the 26/11 attacks, “Earlier though, during the Musharraf era when the country’s music industry was booming, there were sponsorships and artists were travelling to India, things were different.” He said his album was ready two years ago but couldn’t be released because of political turmoil on a local and regional level. According to Xavier, “I was going to launch myself two years ago but due to the lawyers’ movement and the Mumbai attacks, the process got delayed”.

He lamented that the political conditions of the country had made a really bad impact on the music industry, especially new entrants who wanted to launch themselves. Simien Xavier dismisses record labels in Pakistan as being just ‘mere distributors’, and expressed dissatisfaction at how record labels were just saving costs. However, he is optimistic about the comeback of an old record label, EMI, as it will promote competition among distributors. He compares the situation to Pakistan’s neighbouring country: “In India things are different, the record labels who promote the artists from arranging their concerts to organising interviews.” Xavier’s song “Pal Bhar” features Tahir and the Norwegian pianist Ingrid Kingdem (who has a band of her own in Norway). About his work with Kingdem, he says: “She was here at the time I was recording the song. When she heard the song, she immediately offered to work with me on this song.”

He is already collaborating with other artists for his album and in recent times, has performed with Faheem, the late Allan Faqir’s son. Simien says he is inspired by Queen, Eric Clapton, Deep Purple and the Scorpions, while on a local front he admires Mehdi Hassan, Amanat Ali, Baray Ghulam Ali, his brother Shallum Xavier, Amir Zaki, Adnan Afaq and Mekaal Hasan. “I used to see my brother jamming in the room all day long. Therefore, my initial playing was heavily inspired by Shallum. Now that I’ve been playing music for a while I’ve figured what my style is. However, I’m still learning and developing it,” he adds.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2010.

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