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Heard of Punjabi Blues? This Pakistani musician will leave you addicted to it

Durga M Sengupta | Updated on: 23 August 2017, 23:13 IST

If you have good speakers or a noise-cancelling headset, Shamoon Ismail should be your next stop on YouTube.

Start with his most popular track 'Tuntuna', and work your way up to the catchy 'Jutt Blues', or maybe his chill new track 'Basanti'. Ismail, a Pakistani musician, writes, composes and sings all his songs in a style that's completely his own. He is currently working on a new EP, and with some luck, he'll make his way to India.

Punjabi Blues, the unique genre of music he seems to have created, is a fun blend of western tunes and theth Punjabi lyrics.

In a conversation with Catch, Ismail insists that Punjabi Blues was just an experiment, which worked. “I am honestly not trying to introduce anything, I am just being myself. Punjabi is my language and that's how I express myself. I grew up listening to all kinds of music.”

Besides, Punjabi Blues is not the only kind of music he performs. “I do all kinds of music, acoustic, hip-hop, everything,” says Ismail.

But all these styles must have some origin, some influences? “Different artists have influenced me in different parts of my music,” says the artiste. “My writing style is multi-syllable, very hip-hop. Skrillex influences me for my production style. I feel John Mayer is a beautiful guitarist too.”

Convinced that his “originality” grabs eyeballs, Ismail is open to collaborating with Indian artistes who can keep up with that prerequisite. “Anyone with their own style, own character, you know, someone who is original and edgy. I am open to all,” he says.

Popularised largely through the internet, Ismail's songs already enjoy a robust Indian following, with many artistes attempting their own versions of 'Tuntuna'.

Ismail's music is not just created by him from scratch, but also created in his own recording studio. A few years ago, Ismail had a bad experience recording the music he created with his then band, and that got him into production. “We made a song, and went to the studio to record, and the studio ruined it,” he recounts.

“The sound I want for my music, only I can make it for myself. I started learning more instruments, got into the technical side.

“I can't really explain to people the kind of music I want, I can't be dependent on anyone, so I did everything on my own, the aesthetics of music, and the instruments. In 2013, I released Sapne. Then TunTuna was my biggest hit. Surprisingly, people even loved Jaan De and Jutt Blues,” he says.

Given the amount of time and effort he puts into piecing his songs together, it isn't very surprising when Ismail says, “It's all me. Every word, every line I sing, is based on my story.”

This isn't something he's just saying though, for some of his music is truly personal. One of his minimal, yet most arresting tracks, 'Jawab', is an ode to his late mother.

“No one in my family is even related to music. But I started singing before I could even talk.You know, like I used to hum songs, didn't really make sense. Then when I could talk, I used to sing all the time. I used to listen to a song on the radio, or on a cassette, sit in the back seat of the car, look out the window and sing my heart out.

“After my mother passed away, I still carried on making music, but I didn't really release them. I wrote 'Jawab' for her,” he says.

On being asked about his future plans, Shamoon Ismail quite simply says it is to “carry on making music.” He's also keen on crossing the border, and winning over a whole new country of fans. “I would love to come to India, I already get a lot of love from India, I know I will get more once I actually perform. I love the music scene there and it would be fantastic to collab with the right artists,” he adds.

Well, we sure look forward to it!

First published: 23 August 2017, 19:41 IST
Durga M Sengupta @the_bongrel

Feminist and culturally displaced, Durga tries her best to live up to her overpowering name. She speaks four languages, by default, and has an unhealthy love for cheesy foods. Assistant Editor at Catch, Durga hopes to bring in a focus on gender politics and the role it plays in all our interactions.