Grammy nominee Arooj Aftab explains how
audiences have changed
The first Pakistani-American artist to earn two nominations at the upcoming Grammy Awards knows how she landed on the shortlist.
Talk to Press PLAY podcast, one of the best music podcasts about music, Arooj Aftab observed, “It feels like the Academy is doing a good thing here, where they realize it’s also popular but just from an angle different, and it deserves to be in the running as the best new artist,” she says. Press PLAY. “And one of the biggest things is that American audiences are now listening to music that’s not in English, because everywhere else in the world they’ve been doing it for a long time very easily, right? … It’s like a giant breakthrough.
She sings mainly in Urdu, drawing inspiration from Sufi poetry.
A song from his album is inspired by the poetry of Mirza Ghalib. Explaining the lyrics, she said, “I’m saying if I give my heart to anybody, what can you really do about it if you give your heart?”
She continued, “It’s not about anything in the end. It’s just about the power of that love and sharing it, and understanding those things that happened, like just speaking in a very simple and real way, which I really appreciate.
Melancholy being a primordial sound sense, Arooj Aftab noted: “[Life] can fill you with so much disdain for her. … It’s so relentless in the way that it brings you joy, and it brings you so much sadness, and it gives things to you and takes things away from you, and you’re just in this washing machine cycle. But then without that, everything is useless. … So trying to have the most integrity and put those thoughts and feelings into the music. Very personal music is what I tried to do.
Beware of Arooj Aftab who must appear on Coke Studio 14 in the days and weeks to come.
The first Pakistani woman to land two Grammy nominations, Arooj Aftab will also perform at the iconic Coachella music festival in April 2022, another first for a Pakistani woman.
Mekaal Hasan Group
shoot for the stars
Mekaal Hasan Band’s Digital Fidelity Studio has hosted everyone from Atif Aslam, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Poor Rich Boy, Zeb and Haniya, Noori, Ali Azmat and many other independent and mainstream artists. However, his work as a producer and engineer remained underappreciated.
What has successfully caught the attention of music listeners across demographics is his music as the leader of the Mekaal Hasan Band. As we enter the new year, Mekaal Hasan Band – after releasing three terrific albums and leading several festivals in different cities – in its current iteration has big plans. After having mixed the album of the famous Anglo-Asian artist Shez Raja, Punjab Tales at his live Lahore studio (which has received fantastic reviews), Mekaal is working on new material with his first love, Mekaal Hasan Band.
Confirm the news at Camber in an exclusive chat, Mekaal revealed that for the beginning of the year he will be working on MHB material, among other things he cannot talk about at the moment. “It would be better for me to work around the strong points of a singer that I met. Currently, MHB is working with Shehzad Ali, a qawwal on vocals. I wouldn’t call it the fourth album. I don’t know if it can be an album. All I do is pick material around the singers I’ve worked with, so with Shehzad, he’s a Qawwali guy; he is not a classical or folk singer. I will write stuff for his vocal style and aesthetic.
The idea, notes Mekaal, is to marry the aesthetics of the singer with his own ideas. Bringing traditional music to life and working with traditional musicians is an idea that has remained with MHB for many years. Here’s hoping 2022 will see another collection of releases from Mekaal Hasan Band, best known for their critically acclaimed albums such as Sampooran, Saptak and Andholian.
Auj drops his debut
The last group to win Pepsi Battle of the Bands in 2019, Auj (Nasir Zaka, Abdur Rahman Sajid, Muhammad Kashif and Syed Hasnain Ali), released their debut album on December 31, 2021 with an event in Karachi. Since the conquest of PBOTB competition which included the band performing beautiful originals such as ‘Raat’, ‘Aansu’ and ‘Lafz’, the band were studiously and quietly working on a full album. After winning, Auj approached the album in the right way, releasing music videos for songs such as ‘Duhrao’ (2018) and “Nawazish” (2021) before releasing their first album, Sifr.
The album features 11 songs in a mix of singles we first heard on PBOTB as well as brand new tracks. While PBOTB-performed pieces like ‘Raat’, ‘O Jaana’ and ‘Aansu’ feature on the album, the band conspicuously left out the giant track, ‘Lafz’ for new singles. Among these are songs like ‘Sukoon’, ‘Sabeel-e-Aarzu’ and the sizzling title track, ‘Sifr’. Auj took her time with the album, especially since Cov-Sars-2 had appeared in early 2020 in Pakistan as well as pretty much around the world. Given the infectious nature of the virus, making a full album was a bold effort. Auj may have taken the risk, but they also took their time writing, composing and polishing what was to be their debut album. Deliver it as we enter 2022, SifrThe release of comes at a time when musical events are already taking place. And, for any band, especially one releasing their first album, success only follows if they have the chance to perform live. Upon release, writing a note on their album, the band said in a Facebook post, “We hope the 11 tracks listed on the album will make you feel that wanderlust, from Sifr at Rat.“
Sifr, produced by Auj in Karachi, is available on streaming platforms such as Spotify with distribution, licensing and release by Rearts print label Rearts Records, and album covers designed by Azeem Hamid. As fans of the album format, we’re thrilled to see Auj back in the spotlight. Listen to their record to decide what you think of this pop-rock band from Karachi. – Group photography is curated by Bilal Maqsood Butt