‘30’ is a Charm!

  • 04 Aug - 10 Aug, 2018
  • Shahzeb Shaikh
  • Interview

As I write this, Strings is celebrating their 30 years of making music. It’s getting even stronger as we shall witness their new album release this year. MAG sat down with the band and had a thorough chat regarding their new album, music, Pakistan’s music scene, future plans and much more. Excerpts:

It was in 2008 when you released your last album and now you have come up with another one after almost 10 years. What were the reasons behind such a long hiatus?

We released Koi Aanay Wala Hai in 2008 and it was the time when pop music was going through its abyss. As artistes, it was natural for us to feel the heat and our concentration shifted entirely from the pop music toward socio-political songs. We released tracks like Ab Khud Kuch Karna Parega and Main Tau Dekhoonga during 2010 to 2012. By 2013, situation in the country began to move on a better side and we did a lot of concerts during that time. In 2014, we were offered the production of Coke Studio Season 7 that kept us busy from 2014 to 2017. The dawn of 2018 saw the 30th year of Strings as a band. So, after a decade we are planning to release our next album this year.

How was the experience of doing Coke Studio? Which season remained your most favourite?

The experience was amazing. Although it was extremely stressful, these were the most fulfilling four years of our lives as musicians. Every season had its own charm. It’s very difficult to name one. Just the fact that we were working with maestros, the legends of our industry, designing collaborations and producing their music was a huge honour. In season 7, we saw Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Jee coming together to perform Chaap Tilak, it was a huge achievement for us. Similarly, working with the Late Raees Khan Sahib is something we’ll cherish forever.

How challenging is production?

It is very challenging because you have to manage a project from all dimensions. You have to bring out the best from the people working on the project. Coke Studio was a 360 degree project where we had to work on the music, artistes’ selections, songs, logistics, copyrights etc. We always enjoy challenges because you learn so much tackling them.

Strings is celebrating its 30 years. What are the basic ingredients to keep a band intact? Why do bands break up?

FK: A band is synonymous to a marriage. The most important ingredients for keeping a band intact are trust and keeping the band first in all situations. For us it’s all about Strings. We have always thought about the band. Whatever we do, it’s Strings, not Faisal and Bilal.

Are you planning to launch a full-fledged album or it will be releasing singles?

FK: Yes. We will be releasing a full-fledged album. Two singles are already released and we are working on the other six songs. We hope that we are able to release all the eight songs with videos. It will be called ‘30’.

Why don't artistes release physical albums these days?

BM: Physical albums are not sold these days. We all listen to music on digital platforms like cellphones, music players and computers. Artistes release singles because people like singles more. Also, because there is so much music releasing each day and lifespan of music has become shorter, so artistes prefer releasing singles.

What are your thoughts on the present Pakistani music scene?

FK: It’s getting better for sure. Again, when we look back, early 2000s was the best time we’ve seen for Pakistani music scene. Post-2008, this is the first time we do see that a lot is happening in the underground music scene. Many accomplished Pakistani artistes are also coming with their new music. Platforms like Coke Studio, Pepsi Battle of the Bands, Nescafe Basement etc have helped music a lot. We just want TV channels, radio and media to support more Pakistani music.

You ventured in the Pakistani film scene through Moor. How was the experience?

BM: Experience was wonderful. We started working on Moor in 2013. And it was the first time we were venturing out of Strings’ domain. And it kind of bridged Strings and Coke Studio.

How is Pakistani film scene doing currently?

FK: It is actually promising to see so many movies releasing. I am very excited for the Pakistani film industry and think its moving in the right direction.

Strings is renowned for social awareness songs like Mein Tou Dekhoonga and Khud Hi Kuch Kerna Parega which sounded different altogether. Any more such songs in the pipeline?

FK: As I mentioned, we made these songs when the situation of the country was such and it was natural for us to feel that. Things are getting better now.

What do you think is the importance of social media for promotion of music?

FK: It is very important because it is the medium for today. Earlier, of course, there were times when there were only radio, music channels, cassettes and tapes. Social media actually empowers musicians in a way that they don't need to rely on anybody. They can reach out to their audience by themselves. However, that does bring a lot of competition. But I feel that's positive for music, as competition results in quality music. So yeah, one needs to learn the tricks of social media in today’s time.

Are you planning for any collaboration?

BM: Not as such but collaboration happens. The best part about collaboration is that you get into a different zone. We did a lot of collaborations in Coke Studio, so for our album we will keep it to just Strings.

What are your future plans?

FK: Our entire focus is on our upcoming music. So stay tuned.