No covers, just originals for new series: Farhad Humayun

Musician-producer feels artists should have a chance to play ‘whatever they feel like’ on Pepsi Smash.

Sher Khan May 12, 2013
Pepsi Smash is a free platform for singers to sing their heart out. PHOTO: FILE


The release of latest music show Pepsi Smash has been rather low-key, with relatively less promotion to back it. But its producer, drummer and vocalist Farhad Humayun is well-known and needs no introduction. His work as a producer, on the other hand, is less hyped despite having a substantial amount of experience in the field. 

“I have been doing production for the last 10 years,” says Farhad Humayun. He mentions that he has produced two of Atif Aslam’s albums, including Jal Pari and Meri Kahani. Apart from that, Farhad has also produced for SYMT and, not to forget his work with Overload, a collaboration that introduced singer Meesha Shafi and folk talent such as Pappu Saeein to the mainstream.

The Pepsi Smash series can be seen as his vision of how music should really be. The series will have 12 sessions and eight artists, who will be working towards bringing something new to the music scene that seems to be monotonous, otherwise.

The show has been shot at Humayun’s very own Riot Studio; a state of the art studio that has been functioning since 2006. This is also the same space where he launched an online music series by the name Live at the Apartment, in which Humayun and his friends would record and experiment with music. The success of this online series seems to be a precursor for the upcoming show Pepsi Smash that faced several delays before it finally launched its first show on May 1.

When asked about the kind of music that will be showcased on the series, Humayun said, “We have decided that there will be no sufiana kalams and no covers. Rather, all songs will be original; made specifically for the show. We felt that contemporary Pakistan and individual artists should have a chance to play whatever music they feel like.”

Last week Pepsi Smash released Jaag by Jarrar Malik, an electronic club anthem. Humayun says he ensured that the music was an original team effort if nothing else. The compositions that were produced by Sheraz Siddiq and DJ Faisal Baig were a unique blend of fresh beats and contemporary soul that seems to be missing from Pakistani music these days.

Supporting the need to encourage contemporary artists, Humayun stressed, “We are lacking vision and contemporary voices within Pakistan. If we only focus on releasing sufi albums or traditional music, we are in a way restricting young talent from expressing themselves.”

The new venture will include tracks from SYMT, Noori, Strings, Siege, Sajid and Zeeshan, Jarar Malik and Ali Asad, to name a few. Humayun says that they were lucky to receive some quality songs from artists. He emphasized that the point was to give a free platform to artists for singing their heart out while keeping the audio production and quality intact. The songs were played live in a studio environment and were not lip-synced.

Humayun is working collectively with Faisal Baig, an old friend who was also associated with Overload,  to introduce the electronic genre to the Pakistani music industry and has managed to produce great results, in process.

“I think the introduction of that electronic/rock mix genre in Pakistan is very new and hence, the artists have been very welcoming but the overwhelming response is also because we asked them to compose original songs for a certain purpose,” said Humayun.

While an initiative to promote fresh talent, Pepsi Smash is yet another show that has followed the overall trend of major brands getting involved in the music industry. However, Humayun is skeptical about whether it entails any benefits for music itself. The brand, he says, cannot say what is good or bad for music, it can only fund it.

“The brand is not interested in marketing music, it’s not even interested in selling music, it is only concerned about its own product,” says Humayun. He adds that Pepsi Smash is an ambitious project because it is not created for the masses unlike the brand supporting it.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2013.                    

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ali shan | 11 years ago | Reply

Mekal has never produced any of atif's albums nor did he ever play bass with him. it was sameer ahmed of karvan and now sameer shami who played bass

Dr Omar | 11 years ago | Reply

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Meekal Hasan produced Atif's first album (Jal Pari) & played bass for him as well?

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