Lahore, 4th October 2019: The
“Here we are. It is 2019 and as we open our eyes each morning to begin a new day, we find ourselves in a digital age that operates at a constant pulse, a rhythm that beats faster than the pace of our hearts. Human technological expanse is at the pinnacle of its evolution and, as borders become permeable and physical distances grow shorter, people reach out to connect and understand each other. Every day, there are multitudes of conversations, across race, gender and nations. And in this exploration, societies find links that can be traced through our roots – culture’s pieces that are entrenched in history’s soil, bringing people together through music, art and stories. In this process, people see just how artistic expression not only links with its origins from the past but also evolves in new hues in the present day.
Today, Coke Studio is on the twelfth chapter of its journey. Since its inception, Coke Studio remains a space that witnesses the subtle connections of cultures and peoples through music. This has happened on a crossroads that Coke Studio stands at, where paths intersect, attracting energies that come together to create a canvas with a myriad of colors. The canvas sees the attributes of Eastern tonality merge with Western structures, the wealth of knowledge of tradition meeting soundscapes of the present day and a collage of rhythms, notes, melodies and, ultimately, stories.
This Season, music traveled to the Studio from far and wide, settling into our mixers and instruments, showing us that the well is far from running dry and that there is still so much to learn and create. From the country’s northernmost borders and westwards, from Balochistan, climbing mountains, frolicking through fields of wheat, and winding their way through sand dunes, voices came pouring through to share the legacies of their heritage and stories. In the soft vowels of Pashto, zesty flavors of Punjabi, and earthy tones of Sindhi, we heard Sufi tales on Divine love, ghazals that emanate nuances of the human condition and festive duets of romantic conversations between coy lovers, human emotions taking shape in words and melodies. Folk songs came to us, taught in village homes by mothers to their children, hand-in-hand with the words of philosopher-saints that echo in the shrines of the Subcontinent, followed closely by popular hits that have forever lodged themselves in our cultural memories.
Songs came down to us through the centuries, bringing with them ancient melodies and rhythms. From the hills of Kashmir, a sad empress called to us, writing lovelorn poetry for the husband who had been taken from her. Writing poems on the human soul, and musical compositions that would survive centuries, an ascetic stopped by the Studio as he travelled through the land, preaching his message of love and tolerance. Weary camel herders from Balochistan travelled to our studio, singing notes as they walked through hills and sand dunes, harmonizing their voices to suit the echo of the terrain. And in this process, the Past, the forever teacher, became our guide in the Present. Music, we found, is a continuing journey in which distinctions between past and present can become permeable. It is a collaboration between centuries and decades, one that will be ongoing as long as our collective memory survives.
Within the Studio, we experimented with the new and old, bringing together a house band that has been part of Coke Studio’s family since its adolescence, with young talent that brought with them fresh understandings of the sounds and rhythms that came to us. The pulse that kept the music alive was the percussions section, this year made up of Coke Studio veteran Babar Khanna, drummer Kami Paul, multi-percussionists Aziz Kazi and Hassan Mohiyuddin, and, Coke Studio’s first female house band member, Veeru Shaan. Creating the mood of the soundscape with their fills and progressions were bassist Kamran (Mannu) Zafar, guitarists Zain Ali and Sarmad Ghafoor, keyboardist Varqa Faraid, and multi-instrumentalist Amir Azhar. Providing the harmonic beds upon which our melodies were built were the backing vocalists Mehr Qadr, Rachel Viccaji, Nimra Rafiq, and Shahab Hussain.
Musicians came to the Studio, those who we have been listening to since our childhoods, and whose voices we have come to love, alongside artists who were completely unfamiliar, who brought with them songs in which we could hear the texture of their land. A young boy, Kashif Din, came to us from Gilgit-Baltistan, having taught himself to make music on a broken laptop. The Studio was graced by Ali Sethi, who in one take managed to wrap up rehearsals for a ghazal written 75 years ago in a prison cell by a poet who dreamt of revolution. Organically, the pieces came together on the Coke Studio canvas, forming arrangements, beats, and patterns and, for the Studio, music became a process and a collaboration.
In a world where there are multitudes of information, sounds and conversations to choose from, Coke Studio wishes to offer a space where one can contemplate the reverberations of a single guitar strum or the notes of a few piano keys. Traveling down the ladder of time, from the courts of the Delhi Sultanate and the music studios of pre-revolution Iran, through mountains and valleys, much like the water that trickles down from a natural spring, music came to Coke Studio’s canvas. At its core, Coke Studio remains an offering, a space where we share what has come to us, welcome to those who wish to join us on this continuing journey of exploration.” Rohail Hyatt, producer Coke Studio.
Speaking about the launch of Coke Studio Season 12, the General Manager of
Indeed, Coke Studio endeavors to spread the message of hope, optimism, vibrancy and love through the music, moments, interactions, languages, artists, instruments, exploration and exchanges that Season 12 will represent. To this end, Coke Studio reveals the following featured artists for Season 12: Abrar-ul-Haq, Aima Baig, Ali Sethi, Atif Aslam, Banur’s Band, Barkat Jamal Fakir Troupe, Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad with Humnawa, Fariha Pervez, Hadiqa Kiani, Harsakhiyan, Kashif Din, Nimra Rafiq, Quratulain Baloch, Rachel Viccaji, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Sahir Ali Bagga, Sanam Marvi, Shahab Hussain, Shamali Afghan, Shuja Haider, Umair Jaswal, Zeb Bangash and Zoe Viccaji.
Season 12 also marks the return of the houseband, with Mehr Qadir, Nimra Rafiq, Rachel Viccaji, and Shahab Hussain on backing vocals; Amir Azhar, Javed Iqbal, Kamran “Mannu” Zafar, Sarmad Ghafoor, Tanveer Tafu, Varqa Faraid, Zain Ali on tonal instruments; and finally, Aziz Kazi, Babar Khanna, Hassan Mohyeddin, Kami Paul, and Veeru Shan on percussions.
Finally, a number of guest musicians will be demonstrating their musical flair on the Coke Studio platform including, Balochi Troupe: Mohammad Bux Aaharr, Shaihan Khan, Shehzad Sardar, Taj Muhammad Buledi; KPK Troupe: Abdul Majid, Fazal Kareem, Khurshid, Zafar Ali; and Sindhi Troupe: Mevo Khan, Muhammad Talib, Roshan Ali, Shoukat Ali Faqeer. Additionally, Coke Studio Season 12 will have Sajid Ali on Flute, Omran Shafique on Guitar, Syed Saif Abbas on Bass Guitar, Sadiq Sameer on Rubab, Shahzad Ali on Harmonium, Fazal Abbas on Tabla, Shakoor Faqeer on Khamach, and Noor Baksh on Banjo as guest musicians.
The first episode of Coke Studio Season 12 will be released on 11th October 2019.