In an exhaustive chat with The Express Tribune, Strings shares its experience of performing in new cities in India, the Indian music scene, the recent elections and future plans.
So, what’s happening guys?
Faisal Kapadia: Well, loads has been happening in 2013! It’s been a pretty active year for us. We did Cornetto Music Icon as judges, did two songs for Pepsi Smash, and a song for the movie John Day, as well as tours in India.
But, it has been a while since you came out with an album. Your last single was released in 2011. Do you plan to launch an album or will you continue the trend of releasing singles?
FK: We realised that after Koe Anaey Wala Hai, we did only two songs, Khud Kuch Kerna Parega and Mein Tau Dekhoonga, which were not commercial music. We have started working on more songs, including singles. There is a lot in the pipeline. After the elections, we feel a breath of fresh air in the nation. Everyone seems optimistic, and it’s an inspiring feeling.
How was your experience as judges in Cornetto Music Icon?
Bilal Maqsood: Cornetto was a fun event. We were mentors along with veteran artistes Alamgir, Amir Zaki, Shallum, Ali Azmat and highly talented singers Zoe Viccaji amd Meesha Shafi. Working with producer Shahi, who mixed Dhaani and Durr was a delight. We looked forward to the shoots mainly to have fun with all our talented friends. We found all the musicians to be very talented and believe that such initiatives are important for the future of Pakistani music. Multi-nationals should promote music because it is difficult for new musicians to start off their careers in a proper manner.
What is Strings’ take on the YouTube ban in Pakistan?
FK: It’s unfortunate! In my view, one can easily block certain videos which are offensive, but banning the whole site is damaging our music industry. The latest way to listen to music is YouTube, which we don’t have right now. YouTube is not just about music – there is so much information on academics as well as inspiring videos, which we are deprived of. I hope that YouTube resumes in Pakistan soon.
Tell us about your recent Indian tour.
BM: India has been very good to us. Our first performance in India was 2003, and since then we have toured India every year. This year also began with Bangalore and Chennai. This time around it was Bhopal and Indore. Music is our bread and butter, but it’s fun to travel to different cities. In other countries, we go to same cities all the time but it’s only in India that we travel to different cities every time. This was our first time in Bhopal and Indore. It’s almost a different feeling to be in a new city. We had a great time performing at both the venues. Bhopal is famous for its lakes and is known as the City of Lakes. We were staying right by the lake, which was awesome. We had a great audience in both the cities. There were fresh feelings and excitements which added value to the concerts.
Let’s move to your Indian film music scene – how do you guys choose a project? And why do you compose dark songs?
FK: It’s very simple for us. We have been around for 24 years, and everything is done through mutual consent. We pick up a project, which is in the same line as something we create on our own. We can’t do Shiela ki Jawani and Munni. We just can’t do justice to such music.
Any new project in the pipeline?
BM: Yes, there is a movie called John Day, starring Nasserudin Shah and Randeep Hooda. It is a dark song and somehow stamped in a way Zinda and Aakhri Alvida were, in fact a much darker feel. Interestingly, it is the theme song and the only song in movie.
Your long time friend Sanjay Dutt has been put behind bars. What are your thoughts on his punishment?
FK: It was really sad when we heard the news. We pray that god gives him strength… it is not going to be very easy.
Why didn’t Strings compose a song for the elections?
FK: Strings in the past two or three years has become a socio-political band. We never thought of it until we started with Beirut, which actually portrayed our ideology. It gave us a new direction and strength to be more socio-politically responsible unit.
BM: The elections showed a new side of Pakistan. Many expats flew to Pakistan to cast their votes with lots of inspiration. It was great to see a huge turnout.
Does Strings have any political affiliation?
FK: Strings is a Pakistani band but we as individuals have our preferences. As a band, there is no political affiliation. We made songs when we felt it was important. During elections, everybody was excited, so we didn’t need to make any special plans.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2013.