Exploring Sindh beyond the cliché of folk music

Published: March 15, 2015
Saif Samejo hopes that foreign musicians will offer collaborations after listening to the work of Jamshoro based musicians  .

Saif Samejo hopes that foreign musicians will offer collaborations after listening to the work of Jamshoro based musicians .

KARACHI: “You have no idea how talented are these musicians from Sindh,” exclaimed Saif Samejo while talking about his project the Lahooti Music Ashram.

The ‘ashram’ as Samejo likes to call it was launched with the objective to provide a platform to musicians hailing from rural Sindh. They received a warm response in terms of student turn out but the expenses were such that in its first year of running they even thought about calling off the project.

“Not only were we paying the bills we were also providing a living space and livelihood to folk artistes who were coming to teach from all over Sindh,” Samejo, who is also the frontman of The Sketches told The Express Tribune.

Despite the setback, Samejo did not halt the project but has rather chosen to run it from home.

“On one hand we have all the facilities that are provided in any state-of-the art recording studio and on the other we have young musicians coming with the drive to learn music. And that is enough motivation for us,” states the musician.

Samejo, who himself came into public attention after his band appeared on the fourth edition of Coke Studio spoke about how he felt it was his responsibility to promote the local talent. He also told of how the Lahooti Music Ashram came into inception and eventually became a stop-start project due to the financial difficulties it faced.

“The idea for Lahooti had been there for a long time but the problem was that we were constantly travelling and were unable to commit ourselves to the project. But then a few years ago I decided to put my music commitments on hold and started this project,” told Samejo.

“We invested most of what we have earned into the project and also built a special building for the Ashram,” said the musician.

To a question about whether he believed musicians from Sindh were being type-casted as folk musicians he agreed saying, “There are many diverse and brilliant musicians in the region that need to be brought into the limelight. I myself know of many underground rock and pop bands in Jamshoro. All sort of music is being done over here that needs to be projected.”

Apart from the ashram, Samejo had also kick-started another venture, Lahooti Live Sessions, which can be classified as a branch of the Lahooti Music Ashram. The purpose of it is to ensure that the vibrant music scene of Jamshoro is shown to people out there.

“The aim is not just to promote the music of Sindh but also to promote the city of Jamshoro and show to outsiders that it is a happening and exciting city like Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore,” notes Samejo.

His efforts though have not gone to waste with musicians such as Zohaib Kazi and Ahsan Bari taking notice of Jamshoro’s burgeoning music scene.

Terming Zohaib Kazi and Ahsan Bari’s performance at the Lahooti Live Sessions as important he says that he hopes to invite international musicians from all over Pakistan and the world to inspire the young musicians of Jamshoro. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March  16th,  2015.

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