Spirare: Like A Forgotten Memory…
“I used to be really negative. I used to believe that Pakistan isn’t going to change for the better but then instead of listening to the news, I listened to people and what they do. I’m a lot more hopeful now. The older generation is more set in their ways but the younger lot are now un-learning all the bias and discrimination they’ve been taught over the years,” says Kiran Shazad, a Lahore-based artiste, who has been dabbling with minimal and experimental genres under her moniker Spirare .
Akin to a space that imbues serenity, her music dissolves into moments that hoist themselves up on crumbling melodies. There’s something so familiar and yet distant in her sound; almost like a forgotten memory.
Currently, pursuing a degree in Zoology, Kiran’s eccentric musical identity is perhaps best described as a marriage of tempo and harmony. Like a contemporary atonal opera, her tracks often recreate the allure of a slow-building melodic turf. Though most of her compositions lack the conventional symphonic structure, the organic fluidity of her melodies bind the songs together. Apart from honing her skills in crafting chordal euphony, she has also been exploring the diverse world of medical entomology and insect molecular biology with great interest. In fact, the first time she looked through a microscope, she was blown away by the fact that a little drop of water encompasses a whole world in it. Perhaps, it was this fascination with the microcosmic and the macrocosmic realms of the universe that led her to discovering the true beauty of life forms co-existing in harmony.
When music and art affect the cultural identity of society
According to Spirare, art is just one large cog in the machine of change. She feels that music and especially television can play a pivotal role in affecting the moral and cultural fabric of society. Depending upon what people are exposed to, they can shift their attitudes and beliefs in subtle ways. This could inherently lead to a chain reaction of thoughts that may or may not influence lives.
Over the years, as Pakistan bore the brunt of harsh military dictatorship, Islamic legislation and ideologies that propagated a one-sided approach to nurturing the country’s cultural character, the need to break all norms with respect to social inhibitions brewed within the subconscious mind of the country’s populace. Soon, non-violent revolts began to take shape with a strong sense of individual expression through theatre, music and the arts which led to the government altering their tactics and making their foray into music. This was evident in Zia-Ul-Haq’s reign where music was used to glorify his views on religion, nationalism and the importance of the armed forces. However, underneath all those farcical attempts of injecting propaganda into the minds of the common man, an uninhibited blanket ban on arts inculcating ideas of modernism and progression was also staged from time to time.
Although times have changed and no longer do the younger generation have to put up with what their ancestors had gone through, violent extremism breeding in the country has brought with it its own share of problems. “Our habit of slapping a band-aid on profusely bleeding wounds coupled with our dislike of letting go of harmful traditions; and our lack of understanding for the need to re-interpret old beliefs will eventually be our doom,” explained the musician who further added that music will not be able to bring about a revolution on its own. A change for the better will take generations to happen. There’s just too many layers of neglect and ignorance to get through. She firmly believes that people need the freedom to think outside the box. “I find restrictions and obligations of society to be very draining. It encourages a person to focus more on fitting in rather than discovering oneself. Individuality isn’t really encouraged, and there’s just a lot of people out there who downplay your experiences and invalidate your feelings,” said the artiste.
When music became her voice
Amidst a creative drought of sorts, the idea of making music started to blossom in Kiran’s mind a few years ago. In an attempt to give a tangible form to her emotions, she began researching and exploring numerous software and virtual instruments. “Music is perhaps one of the ways through which I can make sense of my feelings especially those painful ones that swell and strain under the skin,” said the artiste.
Currently experimenting with ‘cold and sunless’ spectra of music, Kiran soon hopes to wrap up her latest release Aphelion. Although many of her songs feature murky sounds and rumbles, the sublime immersive texture of a minimal ambience dominates her style. While gentle melodic pulses stay afloat amidst synthetic backdrops, the shifting tonal swells emerge and disintegrate in perfect symphony. Although hazy and disconnected at times, her music occasionally indicates the isolation of a lost soul in search of inner peace. For instance, Dreaming builds intrigue with an ebb and flow of sounds that contain wisps of strange nocturnal dreams within their notes. With hints of unsettling emotions, the song is filled with perfect little dream sequences created with soaring melodies. Elevating the entire experience are accompanying lines of poetry — I dreamt of a peace that I had achieved, As my troubles by a stranger were eased. And now I’m awake sliding slowly into the light…
Likewise, Somewhere in the Desert from Obscura explores the darker turfs of desolation. While the mournful wails of curling notes are submerged in torched textures, the austere simplicity of piano blends effortlessly into the structure.
On the other hand, Beautiful Minds from her first release Labyrinth’s Call is an angst-filled tribute to a soul in search of redemption. The song balances the last breath of despair with whispers of hope. Inspired by a friend battling severe depression, this track is Kiran’s way of honouring and immortalising her journey.
Her musical journey with Lahore
“It’s only been in the last three or four years that I’ve truly come to appreciate Lahore. I guess there’s something for everyone here. Life seems to move a little slow. The city is a blend of old and new — physically and spiritually. Like any other city, there’s poverty, pollution, drugs, crime and corruption,” said the artiste as she painted a nostalgic picture of her memories with the city. Be it the old tomb of Qutbuddin Aibak, the mithai shop that’s been around before partition or the old banyan trees which house yellow-footed green pigeons and coppersmith barbets in her university; every single experience has moulded her into the individual she is today. And, perhaps, within the echoes of bustling alleyways, Kiran still seeks those sounds that once defined the character of her city; sounds that nurtured her creative expression; sounds that have become a part of her existence…
written by Akshatha Shetty