This website uses cookies to give you an incredible experience. By using this website you agree to the terms This website uses cookies, learn more ×

Label Worx

Top

 

NEWS NEWS

NEWS

Forging Electronic Futures in Karachi
Posted By : Laura Holness
|
Posted Date : August 2nd, 2019
Overcoming Pakistan's conservative mindset and sometimes-dangerous political tensions, a small group of artists are building a future for electronic music in Karachi.

Around the turn of the decade, there was something distinctly wanting in the Karachi electronic music space. Despite artists releasing tracks, there appeared to be a giant vacuum that no one had attempted to fill. Following the previous decade of violence in Pakistan, coupled with a tumultuous economy, the void of a recognisable electronic music community was predictable.

For decades, there were always rumours of raves at the beach by the Arabian Sea, and jungle being played in warehouses, but the last 10 years have allowed the city's electronic music landscape to truly take shape. 'It started in 2010 when bedroom producers got together,' Karachi-based musician Alien Panda Jury says via Whatsapp. 'There was something called Karachi Detour Rampage. They had contacted a bunch of people, and started putting out tracks.'

Karachi Detour Rampage hovered visibly for a minute, before disappearing. Their dormancy sparked the birth of another collective to assume responsibility, one whose effects would be seismic and still felt to this day: Forever South Music. 'Like anything in this world, you adapt and evolve in your surroundings,' Dynoman says, the creator of Forever South Music, alongside Bilal Nasir Khan, who makes music under the moniker Rudoh. The duo sparked a movement that grew into a large enough collective for South Asian fans of electronic music to rattle off Karachi-based names in pure admiration: Dynoman, Rudoh, Slow Spin, Tollcrane, TMPST, Eridu, Smax, Alien Panda Jury and many more.

Forever South would go on to be featured in international publications such as Vice, The Fader and DUMMY, while artists from the collective would play across Europe and at famed American festival SXSW. They would also create several records, both solo and compilations. Artists from the Maldives, Germany and Pakistan came together to create the 19-track 'Karachi Files', and even cut a four-sided vinyl release from it. 'There was a huge purpose in what was being achieved,' Dynoman says. 'You were giving something to your city, to your country, something unique and different. I had to learn so much about my own city and how to throw a show in Pakistan and, that too, in a DIY fashion.'

With a community being built from the ground up, Karachi's electronic musicians found themselves gravitating towards each other and collaborating in a way that was a first for them. 'When we all started out, we were very fresh,' Slow Spin, who makes textured, celestial music, says. 'We were coming back from other cities we were living in and, in most cases, we had just returned from our undergraduate [degrees].' Bursting with ideas, excited to share how they had grown and what they had learnt in a formative part of their lives, Forever South became the perfect raw breeding ground. 'Forever South helped push the scene forward with more structure,' Alien Panda Jury says. 'The idea was so interesting, people wanted to be a part of it, so the response was great,' Dynoman adds. 'The crowd were there for the music.'

The scene subsisted off youth, adrenaline and restless energy, and that came through in the music being created. 'Music in Karachi, especially during the time period when Forever South was happening, was often very chaotic,' Dynoman says. 'It was taking strength and inspiration from the city, so if you listen back to 'Vol.1' of Forever South, [it's] raw, hard-hitting and urgent.' Over time, though, fissures started appearing in a scene living on limited resources. After a few years, the biggest crack that formed was security.

The Second Floor (T2F) was an influential cultural hub for musicians in the industrial capital of Pakistan. 'We all had our first gig there as 15- or 16-year-olds. We all started there,' Slow Spin says. T2F's owner Sabeen Mahmud was a progressive activist and social worker, helping guide and advise when needed. In April 2015, after hosting a political talk at T2F that centred around the volatile region Balochistan, Mahmud was driving her car home when a motorbike pulled up alongside the car at a traffic light less than 500m from the venue. A gun was drawn and Mahmud was fatally shot four times. 'They brought her body to T2F for the funeral,' Slow Spin says. 'There were so many in the arts community that loved her. She had this fearless, wonderfully warm, brilliant personality.'

Mahmud's murder was a shock to the community. An outspoken creative, she wanted to encourage the challenging of injustice and discrimination at every turn. '[It] was so scary to understand the weight of our decisions, to understand how heavy the repercussions can be,' Slow Spin says. 'Everyone had to take a minute [on] how much of a risk they were willing to take, how strongly they felt about their opinions and which ones were worth fighting for. It wasn't just the fear we were left with, but it was also a lot like humility and responsibility for our actions, for the things that we wanted to do.'

The same year Mahmud was murdered, Dynoman left for NYC. His departure created a void in the beating heart of the scene. Politically, tensions also rose in the city, and security became a real threat. 'There was a complete and utter lack of chances to play gigs,' Asfandyar Khan, who makes intricate, soulful techno under the name TMPST, says. 'I think that has fed into a bit of a malaise in terms of making music. A lot of people are making tracks, but that urgency that was there is not there anymore.' Alien Panda Jury points out how, due to a lack of clubs and bars, 'music isn't a stream of income here'. Slow Spin elaborates further. 'We all realised then that we were doing other jobs to help us sustain ourselves. It was maturity and growth, and it's not something to be viewed negatively.'

Forever South stopped being functional. The collective released a seemingly final collection in January 2017, before, much like their predecessor, Karachi Detour Rampage, they too disappeared. Karachi's stagnation was heavily felt. The burst of creativity that occurred for the first half of the decade seemed to have dissipated slowly into obscurity. Behind the stagnation, in hidden corners, though, ideas were brewing. Childhood friends Jahanzeb Safder and Daniyal Ahmed came together to create Karachi Community Radio in 2018, which became a space to promote the local Karachi scene. They introduce artists, discuss local issues and culture, do Q&A sessions and have now started doing live streams and hosting events.

'One of the reasons we started KCR was because we knew there were all these artists out there who weren't performing,' Jahanzeb says. 'It's about creating audiences and finding people in the absence of having mainstream venues.' After a period of inertia, building trust was also crucial for KCR, and they've already found a way, by urging previously established artists in new directions. Asfandyar Khan, who makes ambient music under his own name, said KCR helped encourage him in places where others didn't. 'They've pushed me to do an ambient set,' he says. 'No one else in Pakistan has thought to say, 'Let's do an ambient set'.'

Karachi seems to have awoken from a deep slumber. '[The city] moves at restless energy,' Abdul-Rehman Malik says, who runs Pakistan's only true alternative music blog, Mosiki. 'Listening to the stuff that comes out of there, it feels like it has the vibe of the city itself.' Slow Spin echoes Malik, mentioning how, 'I think we all have been trying to hone in on our craft a little more. I think everyone's trying to really further develop their materials, their sounds, their selves. Everyone here is trying [to] recollect themselves, and release some new stuff relating to our environment.'

In Karachi, everything is purely DIY - so much so, that Asfandyar complains that: 'There's no club or promoter that would say 'I'm going to get CDJs, because that seems like a good investment'.' With no framework in place, the scene always feels like it's ready to collapse; but with each new wave that occurs, the city's base seems to become sturdier. 'When you don't have any kind of structure that would put the whole thing in place,' Daniyal of KCR says, 'then it comes down to you to build that community and ecosystem. That's what we're focusing on.' Alien Panda Jury, who left Forever South collective and now hosts Sine Valley Festival in Kathmandu, Nepal, underlines the struggle the scene faces.

'Obviously, it's an uphill task,' he says. 'It's never easy, because of the conservative mindset, but things still happen in pockets in Karachi. There's nothing you can do to stop people from having fun.' Having found inspiration in Kathmandu, Alien Panda Jury realised that if he can put on shows and a festival in another country, he can do it at home, too. 'That's why I started Oscillations [a series of events], because I really owe Karachi,' he says. 'I need to focus and bring people out again. We're trying to create that scene again.'

The artists that inhabit the city seem genuinely thrilled. 'It's exciting to imagine where we're going to take this next,' Slow Spin says, looking towards the next decade. 'Karachi is definitely the kind of place that influences the way you move through it, because of all its invisible and visible barriers.' Despite not living there currently, Karachi still plays on Dynoman's mind, and he looks towards it with hope. 'There's this element of danger that you grow up with in Karachi and as Pakistani,' Dynoman says. 'This is reality. You can't turn around. You have to make the most of your situation.'
djmag.com

 

Next Article : Spotify's Paying Subscriber Base Grows To 108M, As Total Monthly Active User Count Hits 232M

Do you have questions?

Our team of specialists are on hand to answer all of your questions so please don't hesitate to get in contact.

GET IN TOUCH

Join Label Worx today

Signing up is quick and easy using our online form. Complete this and one of our Account Managers will be in touch.

SIGN UP TODAY

More News

New DSP: Anghami

Our News   /   September 23rd, 2019

New DSP: Anghami

We are thrilled to announce a new DSP - Anghami! Launched in 2012, Anghami is one of the largest music platforms in the Middle East and North Africa and has a huge repertoire of labels both local and multi-national. Founded by Eddy Maroun and Elie Habib in Lebanon, Anghami was designed with the purpose of reducing piracy in the Middle East by offering a great, and legal, alternative. With an honest outlook and reach into another exciting market, we welcome working alongside them to establish our labels in another global territory!

Flighthouse now has 20m followers for its first Tiktok channel

Industry News   /   October 10th, 2019

Flighthouse now has 20m followers for its first Tiktok channel

Social brand Flighthouse has reached a new milestone with its TikTok channel: it now has more than 20 million followers.

Urbanista Announces Tim Bergling Foundation Partnership To Find Mental Health Support

Industry News   /   October 9th, 2019

Urbanista Announces Tim Bergling Foundation Partnership To Find Mental Health Support

Open to Talk? Open to Listen, aims to boost the ongoing efforts in raising awareness of mental health issues.

The Electronic Music Industry Guide to Mental Health

Industry News   /   October 9th, 2019

The Electronic Music Industry Guide to Mental Health

'The Electronic Music Industry Guide To Mental Health' updates the 2016 Music Managers Forum Guide to Mental Health and has been produced alongside Help Musicians UK and Music Support.

Mexico Listens To More Music Than Anywhere Else In The World, Study Finds

Industry News   /   October 1st, 2019

Mexico Listens To More Music Than Anywhere Else In The World, Study Finds

Averaging 25.6 hours of listening per week. A new study has found that Mexico listens to more music than the rest of the world.

Spotify Users Can Now Combine Music And Podcasts On Playlists

Industry News   /   September 30th, 2019

Spotify Users Can Now Combine Music And Podcasts On Playlists

Spotify really wants its users to listen to podcasts. Starting (September 30) the streaming company has added what it describes as a 'frequently requested functionality': the ability for users to add podcasts to their own playlists.

Spotify For Artists App Redesigned For IOS And Android

Industry News   /   September 26th, 2019

Spotify For Artists App Redesigned For IOS And Android

The new app includes a refreshed design, a new 'home' tab with access to resources and updates about milestones and expanded real-time stats for new releases.

Smart Music Shopping Tips For DJs: Dig For Music With A Purpose

Industry News   /   September 25th, 2019

Smart Music Shopping Tips For DJs: Dig For Music With A Purpose

We've all been there. You buy a grip of new music that you're sure will light the dancefloor, but then when you start going through them a few days later (or, God forbid, you're playing them for the first time at a gig), they just don't have the magic that you remember them having. Some of them are downright terrible.

The Launch Of Audio Library Products On Facebook And Instagram In India

Industry News   /   September 23rd, 2019

The Launch Of Audio Library Products On Facebook And Instagram In India

Facebook will launch Audio Library products on Facebook and Instagram in India (UGC Rights Manager scanning is already enabled in the territory). An up-to-date list of Facebook's launched territories is available on the Merlin Wizard FAQ. On launch, Facebook users in India will gain access to music stickers on Stories, as well as other creative tools such as Lyrics on Instagram, Lip Sync Live, and the ability to add songs to their Facebook profiles.

How To Beat A Creative Block?

Industry News   /   September 19th, 2019

How To Beat A Creative Block?

Do you want to get those creative juices flowing, but keep finding obstacles blocking your way? This can be a more common problem than you think for many artists. It's a creative block. It comes when you are least expecting it, manifesting and appearing at the most inconvenient times.

Amazon Music Has Launched A High-Definition Streaming Service

Industry News   /   September 18th, 2019

Amazon Music Has Launched A High-Definition Streaming Service

The platform's entire library is now available in CD-quality audio...

New DSP: Boomkat

Our News   /   September 17th, 2019

New DSP: Boomkat

Boomkat Limited is a specialist, independent online record store that has been trading since 1998 when they opened up a record store in Manchester called Pelicanneck. They have been online since 2002 and in that time they have supplied the finest Vinyl, CD, Cassette and Download releases to customers in over 100 countries. Their focus is not on any one particular type of music; instead, they are constantly on the lookout for what they consider to be the most innovative, exceptional, interesting and often overlooked music out there - regardless of where it has come from or who it is made by. We cannot guarantee acceptance, but if you think the above is for you, please let us know.

New DSP: Hard Wax

Our News   /   September 17th, 2019

New DSP: Hard Wax

Hard Wax was founded in 1989 by Basic Channel duo Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald. Built on a no-nonsense policy, this is one of the most respected record stores in Europe. With 30 years of experience, and the respect of DJ's and customers alike, Hard Wax specialises in Techno and has a boutique range of rare past and future classics. Along with the reputation, comes an expectation of selling only tracks that they approve and fit with their already extensive vinyl collection. Whist we can't guarantee acceptance, if you would like to be put forward for the opportunity to be stocked at Hard Wax, let us know.

How Clean Is Your Beatport?

Industry News   /   September 5th, 2019

How Clean Is Your Beatport?

Beatport recently announced that they will begin to delete all releases, released before January 2019, that haven't sold any units since the release date. This is intended to become a yearly occurrence from Beatport. This is not new, stores like Juno and Traxsource have been doing this for years. So even if you like it or not, it is something everyone in the music industry is going to have to get used to very soon.

Beatport refresh their Indie Dance / Nu Disco genre

Industry News   /   September 3rd, 2019

Beatport refresh their Indie Dance / Nu Disco genre

Beatport has announced a refresh of its Indie Dance/Nu Disco genre category, in recognition that each style warrants a space of its own. The existing category now becomes Indie Dance, solely showcasing that genre, while Funk/Soul/Disco is updated to become Nu Disco/Disco (including Funk/Soul as a sub-genre).

New DSP: KKBOX

Our News   /   September 3rd, 2019

New DSP: KKBOX

We are very pleased to announce another new DSP - KKBOX! Taiwan-based music streaming and download service, KKBOX has a library of over 40 million tracks. Founded in October 2004, KKBOX has agreements with a significant number of international and local labels in South-East Asia. The Service is currently live in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan. Covering a large area of South East Asia, this is a very exciting and large market, and we look forward to increasing the reach for all of our labels!

Spotify Extends Free Trail To Three Months For New Subscibers

Industry News   /   August 29th, 2019

Spotify Extends Free Trail To Three Months For New Subscibers

Apple Music has long been a thorne in Spotify's side. While Spotify has twice the subscribers than its main competitor, Spotify is now extending free trials of its Premium services to three months to match Apple's offer.

Hull's top tech firms fighting for prestigious Yorkshire Tech 50 spot

Industry News   /   August 27th, 2019

Hull's top tech firms fighting for prestigious Yorkshire Tech 50 spot

Some of Hull's top tech firms are in the running to be named as one of the most exciting companies in Yorkshire. Business Cloud's Yorkshire & Humberside Tech 50 vote will shine a light on the region's best businesses which have technology at the heart of everything they do.

 

chewdj-voicelwamfitnativepaypalradarstemsyour-edm