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Soundcheck: Basement brew

December 23, 2012

Xulfi of the Xth Harmonic music production studio, that is the breeding ground for young musicians, expresses his thoughts on Nescafé Basement, its scope, the future of Pakistani music and much more.

IoS: Tell us about the idea behind Nescafe Basement?

Xulfi: Since 2002, the year I entered mainstream music from the underground, I have been witnessing talent that is rare, raw and real. My aim has always been to create an opportunity that can help this talent start a journey that encourages them to not stop, but continue their musical trip and discover fresh aspects of their talent. Through Xth Harmonic, I have mostly recorded new talent because I like the freshness new artists bring with their music, unadulterated by the demands of the mainstream. This is exactly that sort of an opportunity that has been created for these artists.

At the media agency where I work, I had a chat with the MD about it as I knew a few young artists who were talented but unknown. We brainstormed and took The Basement to the brand. They understood its novelty, reach and the mission and it is on its way to becoming a reality. The main aim for this project is to create a future for Pakistan’s music scene. I believe all such music shows that go on air in Pakistan are seriously concerned about the success of music in this country, and also want to create an industry out of the current music scene that we have.

The idea behind NB is the same, but with the daring initiative of taking on artists who are young, raw, unknown, have the talent but remain undiscovered; and with it creating music that sounds fresh. The pivotal reason for recruiting such artists is that there is a lot of talent in our country that is not out in the open. That is where the danger lies because if this talent doesn’t come to the surface, then it is going to be only luck deciding the future, and I, as a musician and a music producer, and an avid Pakistani Music Supporter, do not want that. I want to see a bright future of the Pakistani music scene and that is why Nescafé Basement strives for exactly that.

IoS: Why call it Basement?

X: Because it represents the underground, the breeding ground of talent. Before coming into the mainstream, I was an underground musician as well and so were Ali Noor, Mustafa Zahid, Fawad A. Khan, Ahmed Butt and a plethora of other artists who are now a commercial success. I strongly believe it is the only place where raw talent does not get suppressed by the demands of the mainstream and where the real essence of the artist shines through.

IoS: Something about the music?

X: The sound that NB has is not a pre-planned one. It is the one that I heard, rather felt, when these artists were randomly jamming. They inspired me to think and that ended up being the sound of NB. I wanted the real essence of their talent to come out naturally, and not enforced.

IoS: What about competition with Coke Studio or Uth Records?

X: I think all we all contribute equally to the music scene in Pakistan and are not competitors. Although we all play in music, yet we all offer something different.

For instance, NB takes the daring step of creating music with musicians who are not exposed to the big stage and are relatively inexperienced when it comes to performing live; and then taking these artists to the next level of self-discovery. Our audience encourages and loves music, and that in turn gives us all the more reason to keep coming forth with such shows.

The way I see it, in order to accomplish a mission you need an army, and that is what these shows are all about: an army in support of the cause of music in Pakistan.

The reason why NB is a live recording of music is that I want to bring the live music culture back. Recent audiences haven’t witnessed a lot of new groundbreaking artists surface and one reason is that most of the new musicians are less about live acts and more about recording artists. I feel preparing live musicians is very important to bring life back into the live music and eventually the concert scene in Pakistan.

IoS: What has been your personal experience while scouting for raw talent?

X: I could never have known that there is a 20-something saxophone player in Pakistan who has been lying low, in fact downright dormant. He is an intensely talented and gifted individual. Similarly, I can say the same for all the other artists in the Basement. There are revolutionary songwriters and extremely progressive instrumentalists in the arsenal which, in turn, speaks of the kind of talent that is present here.