Contrary to popular belief, the big bad sponsor is not the death of independent music. TGIF meets with Sara Haider, Jimmy Khan and Zoe Viccaji who all came together for the first time to sway the crowd at the recent corporate launch of United Snacks with their original music…and had a blast just doing their thing.
Out of the various fusion collaborations like Coke Studio, corporate launches, concerts and jam sessions, what’s your favorite part of being in the music industry in Pakistan?
Sara Haider: My favorite part is being able to work with so many different artists. Especially in Karachi, more so than any other city in the country, you really feel the sense of diversity here.
Jimmy Khan: Firstly, I like writing and creating. Secondly, it is because of the stage that I do what I do: I like being up there, whether it’s a corporate or a private show, as long as there is a good audience. Festivals are the best because the crowds are the biggest.
Zoe Viccaji: My favorite part of being a musician is the whole live show experience. I think from the beginning, one of the most attractive things for me in music was the performance aspect and being on stage. I’ve never been a huge fan of being in the studio because you’re not really interacting, just singing into a mic.
Corporate sponsorship just gives you more chances to do your music in front of an audience who you might not otherwise come across.
The second best thing is the whole collaboration aspect, like what we just recently did at the Oye Hoye launch: Under the umbrella of a corporate show, I had the amazing experience of working with musicians who I wouldn’t otherwise work with, who aren’t even in the same city as me, musicians like Ebba, Rufus, Sameer and Jamal, the producer and the man who brought us all together.
You all are at different places in your careers. Were you guys friends first, how did you meet? What made you click? Tell me a bit about your working relationship and what you like about it.
SH: Well, Zoe and Jimmy have been in the game a lot longer than I have. Zoe… I first saw her when I took my mom to see Mama Mia when I was a kid in school. I’m a big fan of both of their work and I think what sets them apart in this industry is that both of them have their own unique sounds and they each have their own places in the industry, places that didn’t exist before.
Every collaboration that I’m a part of is a learning process for me at this point and I think in that way Jimmy and Zoe have been very supportive and gracious.
JK: As far as my working relationship goes with these two, I think the three of us have similar influences, we did the same things growing up, heard similar kinds of music and all three of us are performers. This launch was the first time we collaborated on something and it was really a lot of fun. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun having two other vocalists with me on board.
If you could make something better for musicians starting out- some trouble that you encountered, something that could have been better, facilities that could have been provided to you, institutional, government support- what do you think you’d like to see improved in the music industry around you?
SH: One thing that I’m trying to do in my own way is to promote the idea of good, clean talent management. Musicians mostly end up dealing directly with sponsors and clients who will know how to get the most out of you and score the most lucrative deal for themselves. Being a creative person, you need someone who is a business person on your side and in your corner to represent you.
I wish that musicians would become more of a lobby. People like Zoe and Jimmy are part of a largely growing fraternity of musicians that are committed to helping each other out.
ZV: I think something that I was lacking very much when I first started out was anything that hasn’t been released yet. I recently met a boy from Chitral who has a beautiful voice and compositions but had no idea what to do. I pulled him into my studio with my producer and helped him make a couple of songs. I think we’ve cut down for two years of searching and figuring things out into one month.
I wish that the live music scene would be even more pumping and even greater than what already seems to be happening. But I think that when you have corporate supporting artists, especially like the Oye Hoye launch with Jamal Rahman doing the arrangements, this is something that should be happening more. For an artist to do this in and of themselves: to create an event, to do the ticketing and the marketing, it’s very tough since as an artist you want to just concentrate on your art. I’m happy that we had this happen because all of us who participated came back to our respective cities thinking that we want to do more stuff like this. And the more fun people have at these public events, the more people are going to want them. Our aim as artists is not only to put our art out there but also to show people a good time and how much fun we can have with music.