Danish Faruqi: ‘Music Isn’t Fundamental To Our Existence But It Definitely Enriches It’
“Karachi is bursting at the seams. It’s a loud, obnoxious and difficult place that doesn’t seem to ever stop growing. However, it is dangerously easy to romanticise; the way big cities often are by their inhabitants. I think it’s important to acknowledge that your own experiences aren’t necessarily reflective of the experiences of others around you. For me, Karachi is home. When a place is so inextricably linked to milestones, relationships and emotions, that it becomes a part of who you are, it is difficult to imagine that it could never not be ‘home’,” said Danish Faruqi .
For the longest time, the artiste struggled to define his sound. And, AL AK is his way of capturing thoughts and emotions that he couldn’t otherwise articulate through any other medium. The music he creates is more than often a way of putting into perspective fleeting feelings that are otherwise ineffable. His sounds reflect an immortal view of human nature and emotions. “This is why I like my tracks to have a structure, and a definite end, so that it feels like I’ve made sense of things; told a story. And, hopefully, if people are listening, they’ll feel like they’ve heard one too,” explained the artiste.
Not one to shy away from unorthodox collaborations, his project with Slowspin perhaps taught him a true lesson in breaking all norms with respect to musical conventionality. Faruqi usually works with pre-recorded vocal samples, manipulating these in his tracks . However, this collaboration forced him to learn how to work with vocalists and build tracks around vocals rather than fitting them over a beat or synth. “Working with [Slowspin] pushed me and forced me to think outside the box because she is much more willing to experiment and push boundaries. There were times when I found myself creating sounds or putting in parts that I would have been otherwise hesitant to if I’d been working on my own” said the artiste.
When music became his medium of expression
Rooted in cascading notes, his compositions are filled with tumbling descents and complex harmonic structures. Danish has in a myriad ways constituted and crafted experiences with rhythm, melody and harmony that strike a chord with anyone who has battled conflicted emotions. “Music isn’t fundamental to our existence but it definitely enriches it. I wish I could say that I’ve used music as a medium to voice my opinions on social issues prevalent in the society but making music for me has primarily been something I do for myself. I guess you could say that it is pretty selfishly-motivated for me. It’s the only way to make sense of my experiences and thoughts” said the musician.
Creating moments where melodic gestalts arise in pairs to conjure up reality in the darkest depths of our consciousness, his musical journey is a befitting tribute to mankind’s innermost struggles. Every motif and chord has meaning and depth; almost as if they were part of a larger tale – one encompassing all of humanity. Within the nuances of melodic development, some of his songs strike harmonic simplicity. And, perhaps, that’s when Danish’s sincere pursuit of comprehending emotions come to the fore. For instance, Rainy Days features a soft arrangement of synth and beats. Akin to a beautiful interaction of memories and melodic lines, the song evokes nostalgia and is a powerful reminder of moments passing by.
With Won’t Be Long, he uses an unconventional beat structure pairing it up with snaps and hits from his recordings. Although there are numerous tonal patterns which aren’t necessarily synchronised in this track, the mystery surrounding its fuzzy texture makes it bizarrely alluring. There’s ambiguity and a noisy reflection within its structure, and yet it manages to convey a story. On the other hand, Soon has an upbeat momentum that reverberates with energy. The slightly warped vocals aligned with a keyboard solo and a dramatic breakdown in the middle beautifully create moments of tension and release throughout the composition.
Future of indie music in Pakistan
Despite the music coming out of Pakistan being extremely innovative, the 24-year-old feels that indie/experimental music is in a precarious position. It is only fuelled by the passion and hard work of artistes who are well-aware of the fact that there’s little recognition to be had, and a very small local audience. Moreover, the security situation, or lack thereof, is impossible to ignore. The last two gigs Danish played in Karachi were shut down by the police. Quite often, artistes have to make peace with the fact that it’s difficult to have regular gigs. Therefore, there’s a high probability that their tracks will never be played live.
“Although, it can be easy to become disillusioned and frustrated, I think artistes in the Pakistani indie/electronic scene will always keep experimenting and innovating simply because it’s such a powerful form of expression. I’m not too hopeful about how much support we can garner locally but increasing international coverage, as has been happening recently, can only bolster the resolve of artistes and strengthen the scene,” said the musician. The majority of
artistes based in the country aren’t making dance-friendly music for clubs. The sounds that they create are often experimental and expressive. It is almost reflective of a nameless voice hoping to be heard, making it an extremely emotional experience. However, Danish strongly believes that the scene in Pakistan is constantly evolving. Artistes are always pushing each other, learning from each other and are unwilling to stay stagnant. No matter how strenuous the circumstance, there will always be someone raising the bar and coming out with sounds that have never been heard before.
written by Akshatha Shetty