Mekaal Hassan Band
Anybody who makes a living as a musician has to at some point launch themselves overseas due to the wane conditions in Pakistan – music and musicians are appreciated way more in India than here, which is rather sad but the exposure and media interest gained by an artist there, across the border, is far ahead than what we have.”
Today, ‘going international’ is not as big a deal for local, Pakistani bands/musicians in comparison to what it was a few years ago. Fortunately, due to the media explosion, the channels of communication between Pakistani artists and the plethora of opportunities that have cropped up, have aided in providing brilliant ‘stepping stones’ for our music acts. And every other day, it just so happens, that one comes across atleast four to five local music videos (or those shot in India) by local artists on a variety of Indian music channels.
Furthermore, the pioneer of this very hopping-the-border-and-making-it-big ‘revolution’ was none other than the man with the golden voice; Adnan Sami Khan; who, while being a Pakistani artist, traversed to India for his big break through into the Indian music market. And as we can see today, Adnan not only got a break, but a massive one at that, as currently the singer is all set to cut a record deal with Jermaine and Michael Jackson!
Many other artists today also stand as an example of making it big via greener pastures across the border, such as; Strings, Atif Aslam, Annie, Ali Zafar, Jal, and the list is just about endless.
And in addition to these, another maestro who has been an integral part of the Pakistani music scene – via mesmerizing Sufi tunes and soul-stirring melodies – is Mekaal Hasan and his band of equally talented members.
As much success and appreciation as their first album, Sampooran gained, the band is now ready to launch their second album Andholan, very shortly. Instep Today spoke with Mekaal to find out more about his sophomore album, whose wait, has literally been straining the leash for avid MHB fans!
“The new album is much more upbeat and energetic than the previous one – it has a higher tempo,” replied an animated Mekaal, when asked what his fans should be anticipating with album number 2.
With Sampooran being rather mellow, and more towards the vintage, classical side, one wonders what the response to MHB’s new album would be, since the band has long been associated with the Sufi-soul genre of music.
The twist however, to the album is; that due to the severe conditions prevailing throughout the country, it has become absolutely impossible for record companies (even the big guns) to buy and sell records, which is why almost no company is signing up with artists and distributors these days.
How Mekaal tackled this nuisance was rather clever; instead of launching the album via a record label, MHB has decided to release the music videos of each track after short intervals – with their first video to be on air as soon as Eid. And later on, a DVD version will be made for the complete album. Pretty interesting and rather smart. Overworked as the band may be; the pipeline for MHB encompasses nine to be released music videos.
But coming back to the topic at hand, the band’s latest venture is an exciting two-week tour in India to launch Sampooran! Having stated that, it’s not surprising when one sees a large number of musicians and actors migrating to India (permanently and/or temporarily) almost every few months! After all, there is definitley a huge difference between performing in only three cities (mainly Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad) in Pakistan, and then in almost sixteen in India!
Instep Today asked Mekaal why he thought launching the album in India would prove to be more rewarding, since the album managed to capture a vast audience locally? His response to this question in particular was pretty hard-hitting and true. He stated: “Anybody who makes a living as a musician has to at some point launch themselves overseas due to the wane conditions in Pakistan – music and musicians are appreciated way more in India than here, which is rather sad but the exposure and media interest gained by an artist there, across the border, is far ahead than what we have.”
So true, one can’t help but to agree with that one. Record deals in India also seem to be far more lucrative and highly beneficial for Pakistani artists in comparison to local deals which wind up falling short in some way or the other. It’s truly sad and unfortunate that local record companies don’t respect, guide and value their musicians, and one wonders why that always happens. Shameful too, considering the fact that after booting our best artists, they wind up becoming larger than life superstars in India. Will our local labels ever pull their socks up?