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Finally… the steady rise of electronic music in Pakistan

In the last few years, electronic music has gained a lot of momentum in Pakistan. With the democratization of music through social media avenues, a diverse set of independent artists have risen up. You have acts like SomeWhatSuper (SWS) that have managed to make their way into the mainstream by experimenting with traditional house music coupled with elements of local folk. Then there is traditional techno with the likes of Faisal Baig. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have the Forever South collective, with artists like Dynoman, Rudoh, TMPST and more.

While it’s popularity may be recent phenomenon, electronic music has been around for roughly two decades

It sort of started in the early 2000s with only a handful of DJs and producers. Some stuck to the traditional circuit with music inspired by the likes of Tiesto and Armin Van Buren, while certain other producers focused more to create unique sounds., with time each finding their own niche.

Sajid & Zeeshan ~ Freestyle Dive

For instance there was Zeeshan Parwez. You might remember him from the Peshawar duo Sajid and Zeeshan. With Zeeshan, it was more about infusing traditional musical instruments such as the guitar with digital sounds. The Duo released its album “One Light Year at Snail Speed” back in 2006 that gained modest success.

Dalt Wisney was another act from that era who pushed the envelope even further when it came to experimental music

Dalt Wisney – Plums From Pluto

Rudoh, whose real name is Bilal Nasir Khan, recalls that it was Dalt Wisney that sorta inspired him along with others to experiment with different sounds. In fact, Bilal, before venturing on his own was initially a member of Mole alongside Dalt Wisney’s younger brother Daniyal Hyatt. Consisting a total of 7 members Mole released its debut EP ‘We’re Always Home’. Using everyday sounds that would otherwise fall under noise as samples, Mole’s music was surely something Pakistan wasn’t ready for (not sure if it even is today). Despite catering to a very niche audience the band did once appear on Coke Studio.

Mole – Into Toast Squares

Since leaving Mole, Bilal collaborated with a variety of like minded musicians, did a few gigs in Germany and formed Forever South with fellow musician Dynoman. Forever South is a collective of experimental electronic producers stemming from various sub-genres.

Dynoman who is the co-founder of Forever South has in recent years formed a solid cred in the electronic circle

Dynoman – Escape

“My albums Naubahar and Cheebay’s Imagination, part of the travels to Janaika series, take form within genres such as breakbeats, hip-hop, garage, house, two-step and electronica”. Dynoman in his own words describes himself as being heavily influenced by melody. He lists Jimi Hendrix, John Frusciante, Nusrat and Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan, Flying Lotus and Aphex Twin as influences which shows in his music. “I have enjoyed amazing reception which I had not anticipated when I released music as Dynoman. Since the release of Naubahar in 2012 I was nominated for a Lux Style award for best album in 2013” he said. Dynoman also produced song “Lyari Player” for L.U.G. for Patari’s Tabeer project.

Players Of Lyari (Lyari Underground & Dynoman)

As far as the mainstream is concerned however perhaps SomeWhatSuper is the only act that has received attention from the masses

“Initially we just wanted to break the monotony that was prevailing in the Pakistani Music Industry for a while now. We just followed the moto “break the rules” and we ended up discovering a whole other type of music to work with” said Feroze Faisal, one half of the EDM duo. The duo most recently produced the Sibbi Song featuring upcoming vocalist Abid Brohi, which catapulted the group into mainstream viral success.

SomeWhatSuper ft Abid Brohi – The Sibbi Song (Official Video)

“We discovered him during the Sibbi Mela and instantly fell in love with his work, his energy, his vocal capacity and more importantly that glare in his eyes and his dreams.” said Feroze. At a gig at The Mix festival in Lahore, the duo played an astonishingly schizophrenic setlist, from Abida Parveen remixes to ‘Panda’ by Desiigner, from snippets of old folk songs that crash against their own EDM drops. In may ways it’s exhilarating as well as disorientating to hear a group mash so many influences and styles together. And it’s evident that SWS is introducing a new crowd to the electronic genre. A SWS gig is like a buffet of electronic music: if you don’t like that, maybe you’ll like this?

Electronic music, unlike other genres, however, faces its own unique set of troubles in Pakistan

“The socio-political environment of the country is a major reason why it is difficult for electronic music to thrive here,” said Bilal Nasir. “Outside of Pakistan the audience for this sort of music is mainly found in nightclubs and other places that for obvious reasons cannot be built here” he added.

Rudoh – I Felt So High (Ft. Hannah Cox)

Its true that electronic music, for the most part, is synonymous with club and rave culture. Raves and dance parties do happen in the country but very rarely, and are even subject to police raids. Feroze points out that drug affiliation with the whole genre is the only concern that halts its growth. At the same time however, he remains hopeful that certain ‘big names’ in this genre would keep emerging from Pakistan.

If you think we have missed out on some artists, please let us know in the comments.

Ather Ahmed
Ather Ahmed

Ather is a writer who enjoys writing about music and is OK at some instruments. He currently lives in Karachi.

3 Comments
  1. Hassan Mallick

    August 18, 2018 10:28 am

    Good read, but narrow. There are over 30 acts working in Pakistan. The article discounted a lot of DJs and promoters, and on the producer spectrum spoke only of commercial and indie acts (There’s a grey area in between). No hate though, good to see literature on electronica. Here’s my list of missed artists:
    Fake Shamans in Lahore gigging in Thailand and featuring on BBC.
    Bilal Brohi, Fuzzy working on the lahore scene by welcoming international DJs.
    Black Peach Project, Pakistan’s largest DJ collective working with underground artists.
    VIVID releasing tracks on multiple international labels and being supported by acts lile hernan cattaneo and digweed.
    Shehryar Munir playing in chinese festivals.
    Saqib Malik is a respected Pakistani artist in deep house circles, currently residing in the US.
    Slowspin and lux style awards greatness.
    Could mention Karachi community radio as well.

    I think a lot of the above-mentioned acts have contributed to Pakistani electronica both locally and on the international front.

  2. Hassan Mallick

    August 18, 2018 10:29 am

    Good read, but narrow. There are over 30 acts working in Pakistan. The article discounted a lot of DJs and promoters, and on the producer spectrum spoke only of commercial and indie acts (There’s a grey area in between). No hate though, good to see literature on electronica. Here’s my list of missed artists:
    Fake Shamans in Lahore gigging in Thailand and featuring on BBC.
    Bilal Brohi, Fuzzy working on the lahore scene by welcoming international DJs.
    Black Peach Project, Pakistan’s largest DJ collective working with underground artists.
    VIVID releasing tracks on multiple international labels and being supported by acts lile hernan cattaneo and digweed.
    Shehryar Munir playing in chinese festivals.
    Saqib Malik is a respected Pakistani artist in deep house circles, currently residing in the US.
    Talal and his gigs with diplo.
    Slowspin and lux style awards greatness.
    Could mention Karachi community radio as well.

    I think a lot of the above-mentioned acts have contributed to Pakistani electronica both locally and on the international front.

    • Mosiki Team
      Mosiki Team

      August 19, 2018 7:12 pm

      Thanks for reading Hassan! Agreed that this is a broad overview and not meant to be a comprehensive document of the scene. Thanks so much for those names, artists and collectives – hope to feature and document all of them on the blog in the future. All the best!

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