At this year’s Lahore Music Meet, Ali Suhail played a headline set at the Al Hamra, and also provided guitar support for Shajie and Poor Rich Boy. On the side, he’s part of indie outfit Sikandar Ka Mandar. So as a prominent figure on the alternative scene, it’s particularly exciting when Suhail announced his fifth studio album ‘Pursuit of Irrelevance’, which drops March 31st.
In the lead up, we caught up with the artist about his latest release.
Mosiki: Your last releases were in 2015: Defragment and Desolve. Both had a lot of ‘acoustic folk’ mixed with some very electronic music. ‘Better Time Than Me’ for instance, was a very electronic sound, and then the next track, Sasti Machli, is focussed on the guitar for most of the track. And that seems to be a very conscious decicion to mix the two. So I was just wondering on your mindset when making these albums. Do you consider yourself an electronic producer? Or are those definitions and terms too strict?
Ali Suhail: With Defragment and Desolve, I don’t think there was any conscious decisions at all in the making of that album, that was just me venting and being done with everything – how everything sounds the same, or some version of itself – and I just wanted to make some noise. So that’s the intention behind those. But I don’t consider myself an electronic producer at all, in fact I barely consider myself a producer, I just like working with music in any capacity.
M: Your own solo work is perhaps more eclectic than the work you do with Sikandar Ka Mandar – would you agree with that? Do you use your solo platform as a way of expressing other ideas that aren’t expressed in the bands?
AS: I don’t particularly consider there to be a very vast difference between the sounds – even if we’re from different places we’re musically coming from similar places. With Sikandar Ka Mandar, Nadir Shahzad Khan writes and I’m there in more of a producer capacity, where I inform the music with whatever I can. But the core idea still remains Nadir’s for the most part. So yeah, I just wanted to make some singsongy stuff, which is why I did Ali Suhail. And I figured that if I’m in for a penny then I’m in for a pound. And actually, the real weird venting project that I have is the Joomi experience, which I don’t really talk about that much!
M: How do you see ‘Pursuit of Irrelevance’ in terms of your discography?
AS: I would hope that ‘Pursuit of Irrelevance’ is the next step in some form of forward direction. My opinion would be informed by the people who listen to it. I just don’t want to make the same thing again – but I think this is the most mature music I’ve made so far. I don’t know, maybe that’s a strong thing to say., but I like it! The first album Words From Boxes was very… infantile seems like a derogatory thing to say but there was a juvenility to it, and the things that I spoke of were simple things, and I wanted to push that envelope slightly further with Journal Entries, to make the music slightly weirder and make the lyrics about uncomfortable things. And with Defragment and Desolve i just wanted to make noise. And Pursuit is a mix of both, going where Journal Entries was supposed to go and informed by the chaos of Defragment and Desolve.
I would hope that ‘Pursuit of Irrelevance’ is the next step in some form of forward direction. I just don’t want to make the same thing again.
M: Any insight into the album’s name?
AS: ‘Pursuit of Irrelevance’ is a just a funny thing to call an album, seeing as how a lot of heroes die in the pursuit for relevance, and so it’s a denial of that I suppose. There’s a Ornette Coleman album called The Shape of Jazz to Come, and that sort of confidence and definitiveness made it literally the shape of jazz to come. So I don’t know, it was an ironic choice, hopefully famous ho jaonga is album ke baad!
M: Any plans to tour the album?
AS: I don’t have any plans of touring it but I really hope that I get to. It’s mostly a logistical and funding issue rather than a will issue, because I really like playing this stuff live.
M: What can listeners expect on March 31st?
AS: I don’t know listeners, just some weird music hopefully that isn’t something that you hate…yaar passand ayegi, try karlena, you’ll enjoy it.
Pursuit of Irrelevance is out March 31st. You can buy Suhail’s other work here.
Get hyped with ‘Better Time Than Me’, from Desolve.