Over the span of the last one decade, Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan aka Xulfi remains to be one of the most vibrant and influential musicians of the current wave in Pakistan. Toward the end of last year, he successfully concluded Season 3 of his brainchild Nescafe Basement on a very high note.
However, the man who was behind popular bands like Fawad Khan-famed 'EP', Junaid Khan's 'Call' and saw their glory days is not very hopeful about the music scene until and unless it is recognised as a separate industry.
Talking to Dawn, Xulfi shares his plans of starting auditions for another Nescafe Basement season very soon, along with his suggestions on reviving the Pakistani music scene.
Music scene as music industry:
Xulfi has always moved ahead with a clear focus and a mission. Basement happens to be part of the same thought process. However, Xulfi blames the lack of proper recognition of music as a separate ‘industry’, as the reason for its downfall.
“In the absence of a music industry, we will always have only a few artists that define a certain era. There was the Nazia Zohaib, Alamgir era…then there was Junoon and the Vital Signs time.”
“Then there were the 2000s when EP, Noori, Jal, Atif, Ali Zafar, Call, Fuzon, Aaroh ruled the scene. Compare this to any other established industry of any country, you would lose count of the artists and genres that have existed in different eras and how the numbers have also increased,” recounts Xulfi.
If the drama industry can be revived, why not the music industry?
Xulfi asserts the fact how other entertainment industries can come forward and help the music industry to reclaim its standing. Here he mentions the late resurrection of our drama industry:
“We can take a leaf out of the drama industry book. How they reinvented and finally established themselves,” he points out.
|Xulfi sitting with the members of Nescafe Basement. — Photo courtesy: Xulfi's Facebook page|
Somewhere in between, he is also a tad critical of the new wave of music channels that were initially very supportive of local music by airing homegrown stuff but eventually shifted to playing Bollywood music which, for obvious reasons, drew a larger audience.
“Music had a chance too when all these music channels started appearing, encouraging our local music, artists and bands, but we didn't take it anywhere from there,” he laments.
Success of Nescafe Basement:
Giving the reasons behind the success of Nescafe Basement, Xulfi points out the significance of young blood and their hunger for innovation: "The amazing reviews that we have received in recent years are basically because the participating musicians from schools and colleges have motivation to pursue music with new directions. Having platforms like NB, they can right away see themselves perform in front of a massive audience which triggers their energy level."
|Xulfi with members of NB.— Photo courtesy:xthharmonic.com|
But at the same time Xulfi sighs about the current economic situation where the upcoming stars eventually have to bow down to economic pressures and have to compromise on the creativity and originality of the art.
“They should sustain their life with just music which is unfortunately not possible due to the overall atmosphere—which results in a battle for survival for every musician, young or old.”
Marching on against all odds
Despite all this, he is quite optimistic about the future.
Sounding hopeful he says: “There are still many chances and I hope we don't lose the next opportunity of helping music survive successfully in Pakistan”
Coming back to Xulfi’s own plans, he says he is up to something really big:
“At the moment, I'm working on few very exciting projects. I will be announcing them very soon,” he assures.
Having already given some massive hit projects during his association with EP, Call and Basement, one wonders: What his exciting project is? Is it a reunion of EP or Call?
|Xulfi. —Photo courtesy: xthharmonic.com|
“No nothing like that,” is the answer. “Something big! Will reveal soon,” is what he has to say to keep us at the edge of our seats.
Till then, we wish him the very best of luck for all his upcoming projects and hope that in the light of his past efforts, he raises the bar even higher.
Ahmad Uzair is a freelancer