Sounds of True Brew Records

Jamal Rahman talks about his music production house.

Vaqas/maryam Usman October 23, 2012


All credit goes to Jamal Rahman — owner of True Brew Records — for providing a platform to the country’s young musicians. The studio in Lahore is a musician's playground; a place to record, mix, and produce or even just compose and rehearse.

In conversation with The Express Tribune, Rahman talks about his inspirations, production ventures, and what lacks from the music scene today.

Being in business for two years now, Rahman has worked hard to carve his own niche. Formerly a guitarist with the message-music band Laal, he is now running True Brew as a music haven with a motto: “We make records. Pats on the back are complimentary.”

At the studio, Rahman works 12 hours a day, without which he says he wouldn't be where he is today. “Eighty percent of my life is music; it's the only thing I've loved the way I've loved it,” he says.

Being a part of Lahore’s underground music scene for the last 14 years has given him the experience and exposure to different kinds of music. “That's how you learn. As they say, to be a good author, you have to be well read.” Growing up, he was influenced by music he describes as “the stuff everybody starts out with,” including bands like Radiohead and Nirvana; but along with that, he was also exposed to traditional music including qawwals Pathanay Khan and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, courtesy of his parents. He later embraced an interest in jazz while he studied at the University of Arts London.

A diversified mix of music influences have allowed him to cater to a large number of musicians and bands at the studio and as a result, in just a short span of two years, he has worked with Club Caramel, Malang Party, Jimmy Khan, Atif Aslam, Overload, EP and Laal. He is currently working with Zeb and Haniya on their second album. True Brew also worked with Mira Nair during the shoot of the upcoming movie The Reluctant Fundamentalist, based on Mohsin Hamid’s novel of the same name.

For Rahman, his fully-equipped studio, where musicians are free to practice or play, gives an opportunity to streamline the creative process. Recent projects such as Live at True Brew jam sessions allow the audience to listen in and give talent a chance to shine. “Music is meant to be heard in a live environment; that’s where you really make a connection with the audience,” he says enthusiastically.

Being wary of the shift to personal music players rather than live performances, he reiterated that there is room to set off a trend of listening to live music, “but it’s missing in the current generation,” says Rahman. Live at True Brew in collaboration with ProperGanda and Ammach Productions is an effort to revive the culture of live concerts.

Noting the importance of playing to a crowd and listening as part of one, the guitarist-turned-producer made clear, “people should really attend live sessions and listen to the music.”

As for production though, Rahman says there is no precedent, standard or guideline when it comes to producing music, while explaining that very few producers manage to set a precedent, “Mekaal Hassan is one of them,” he adds.

Production then, has variable rules, but for young musicians especially, there is a good marketing rule to remember. Referring to social media as a tool, Rahman said he finds it to be extremely useful to “promote musicians and their brands.” This will eventually open doors to broader success.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2012.

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