The latest season of Coke Studio may not have received the best word-of-mouth in the music industry, but the public at large has given it a positive verdict. After a long time, we got to see Coke Studio songs create viral frenzy within minutes of their online release. But all is not well in the subcontinent’s most talked about ‘studio’, as some of its featured guest musicians have complained about negligence and lack of professionalism.
The promo of Coke Studio episode 2’s Phool Banro, sung by Abbas Ali Khan and Humaira Channa, features Fuzön’s Shallum as a guest musician, but we don’t get to see him or his name below the song title. According to Shallum, this is reflective of the producers’ unprofessional attitude, as any artiste who is not a part of the house band deserves to be acknowledged.
“If they are featuring all the guitarists of the industry, then they should give them due respect. This will reflect badly on their image, especially if they have an identity beyond Coke Studio,” Shallum tells The Express Tribune. “I am happier touring with my band than being featured in Coke Studio if it fails to give me due recognition.”
The guitarist says he is bothered by the snub because words matter and any artiste would like to utilise a platform such as Coke Studio as a springboard for further hype. “Imagine what a Fuzön fan is going to think about the band’s key member not being recognised in Coke Studio when our new album comes out?”
Shallum is not the only one who did not get a special mention for his guest appearance. In Asrar’s Sab Aakho Ali Ali, musician Aamir Zaki’s name does not appear in the video, which is a surprise, considering most comments on social media platforms solely lauded his power-packed guitar solo. Same is the case with Sajjad Ali’s Tum Naraz Ho, which features Pakistan’s well-known shredder Faraz Anwar as a guest musician. “Aamir Zaki and Faraz Anwar are also at fault for this,” says Shallum. “They should speak out because this is about standing for something one rightly deserves,” he adds. Zaki could not be reached for comment.
Faraz feels that people in Pakistan are accustomed to ignoring the instrument player in a song. “This is the extension of typical Pakistani mentality of treating the vocalist as an artiste and the instrument players as nobodies,” he comments. “I have been bothered by this mentality so often that I have stopped complaining. Ye Pakistan hai, yahaan sab chalta hai.”
However, Faraz also feels that Coke Studio producers Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia should have realised that such recognition holds importance for artistes. “Faisal and Bilal are intelligent people and they have a band of their own [Strings]. At least, they should have realised how much these small things matter.”
Faraz is not concerned about his own image because he has been previously featured in Coke Studio and the platform’s audience recognises him, but feels this is unfair for first-timers on the show. “We should realise that guitarists have led band culture around the world, so sidelining them gives a wrong message,” he says. “In our country, half of the aspiring drummers end up becoming guitarists because jamming gets too disturbing when you live with your abu and ammi,” he adds.
Strings was not available for comment on the issue. Shallum has lodged a complaint to the producers in the form of an email, condemning the “primitive and imbecilic strategy undertaken by the marketing team of Coke,” which is “biased as far as guest guitarists [on the show] are concerned.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2014.
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