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Spotlight: Calling on Zohaib Kazi

Updated August 25, 2013

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Zohaib Kazi surfaced on the mainstream scene in 2009, as a composer, writer and producer with back-to-back releases of songs Raat Bazaar (a cinematic love poetry presented on orchestral soundscapes) and Maan Lo (a love duet featuring Naad-e-Ali Zaidi and Zara Madani) that topped most TV music charts.

After the success of Maan Lo he disappeared from the scene, pursuing music on his own terms by experimenting in the electronica and lounge genre. Zohaib’s collaborative single with Devika on Naraz Mausam was part of a two-CD special compilation called Lounge Nirvana released by Sony BMG, India, which included world renowned names such as A.R. Rahman, Sandeep Chowta, Rahul Sharma, our very own Rohail Hyatt and others.

Zohaib didn’t come forward to receive any mainstream acknowledgement. He was busy learning more about his art, concentrating on his day job at Coke Studio and waiting for the time when listeners would readily accept a new sound.

Zohaib isn’t new to the music scene. He has been pursuing his passion while pursuing business studies at CBM, starting off as a composer/guitarist for Kaavish, then drifting to thrash metal playing for various bands in Karachi’s underground punk rock scene for a few years, finally settling down to production and realising that his forte is songwriting, composing and production.

Zoe & Zohaib

As one-half of Zoe & Zohaib, there was a social media stir on the release of Alvida, a one-of-its-kind electronica Urdu love ballad which was supported by beautiful imagery by Soheb Akhtar. Their other song, Bolo feat Pakistanis, is aimed at lifting spirits during the troubled pre-elections times.

Ismail ka Urdu Sheher

Zohaib aims to release his solo concept album, Ismail ka Urdu Sheher, in the second half of 2013 with three to four supporting videos before the year is out. Three of them are in the can and two are release-ready. The first two are performance videos while the third one, a track performed by Zoe Viccaji, is a rotoscope animation that has never been done before in Pakistan. This video will show a dystopian futuristic Karachi where a resistance tries to prevent a major attack that may lead to World War III. The uniqueness of the album lies in the fact that it is based on a novella and each track represents a chapter.

Ismail ka Urdu Sheher is about the story of the fictional city of Kinara, the financial and technological capital of the fictional planet Elaan. The story is uncovered from the point of view of Ismail Alset, a scientist who dedicates his life to saving his species.

The audio album features the talents of Jaffer Ali Zaidi, Zoe Viccaji, Abbas Ali Khan, Omran ‘Momo’ Shafique and Sara Haider, and introduces new voices Samra Khan and Nida Khurram. Gumby and Aamir Zaki have also performed on one of the tracks.

Inspiration

Zohaib cites Rohail Hyatt, A.R. Rahman, Nitin Sawhney, Hans Zimmer, Michael Jackson, Trent Reznor and even film producers Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan as his main sources of inspiration.

Zohaib’s upcoming release, Black Coffee — Khwaboon Mein will feature Abbas Ali Khan and Sara Haider on vocals, Omran ‘Momo’ Shafique on electric lead, Imam Hamdani on acoustic guitars, Bradley D’Souza and Gumby on drums. The song represents the third chapter from his novella.