Electronic music has always been romanced on the beaches and mountains across the globe. The fans of these genres of music have sought secluded venues which are closer to nature. The mountains of Himachal Pradesh and the beaches of Goa are the most explored destinations for electronic music. Another state which could play the perfect host is Jammu and Kashmir. The music never really found many takers here. The locals are still in awe of their folk and traditional music and who is to blame them for it!
Zeeshan Nabi is trying to get the locals to follow this genre of music by incorporating electronic sounds with the traditional musical instruments.
The Kashmir-based artist is a music producer and singer-songwriter, a major in western and Indian classical vocals. He also honed his skills in music production at the A.R. Rahman-founded K.M College of Music and Technology in Chennai. After completing his specialisation in Australia, he moved back to his roots to work towards his dream.
Zeeshan, like other youngsters at that time, could not find an institute where he could learn the nuances of music in the valley. The ones that existed where not up to the standards but it gave them a start.
“To explore yourself as a musician was a problem. Due to this, basic understanding of music was not clear,” said Zeeshan.
Luckily, there was a music institution called ‘Mirzab’ where most aspiring musicians sought training where Zeeshan too learnt his basics of music. Growing up, his biggest influences were A.R Rahman, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and he was also neck-deep into progressive rock and pop along with his craving for indigenous Kashmiri music. He would listen and study different classical and folk instruments.
(Pic: Zeeshan Nabi)
“My earlier musical influences were an amalgamation of different genres which gave shape to the kind of sounds I would explore later on,” explained Zeeshan.
As Zeeshan progressed as an artist, his thirst for exploring vivid genres led him to western classical music and also contemporary and experimental music. This helped him broaden his musical spectrum and gave him the self-confidence to turn into a composer.
“Having followed different styles of compositions, eventually boiled down to the sound I compose now which is a mix of Kashmiri folk, western classical, contemporary which I infuse with electronica,” said Zeeshan.
In his diverse style of music, he incorporates folktronica, indie folk, experimental, electro and even hip hop. Zeeshan does not follow a particular genre of music, his music can be termed as a mix of Kashmiri folk, progressive rock, electronic, a very unique blend of music.
“I am fascinated by different sounds that I come across so I reflect what I absorb. The kind of sounds that I started exploring shaped my music,” expressed Zeeshan.
Every kind of folk music has its essence which if overpowered by other genres loses its appeal. Zeeshan tries to recapture their essence and incorporate it into an instrumental sound. Due to his music production education, he blends traditional instruments like santoor, rabab etc masterfully so that their original essence is retained in a very organic manner.
“As an artist, I am personally trying to create music with the Kashmiri essence for which I collaborate with a lot of folk artistes. I want to put them and their music on a global platform,” explained Zeeshan.
‘Miraki’, a music recording studio, was started by Zeeshan with an aim to guide the local folk musicians to keep their genres intact while working on collaborations. They are taught how to be better performers and how to explore their instruments and music better. He is also mentoring a lot of young kids and is trying to understand their psyche. Zeeshan hopes to turn ‘Miraki’ into a music education institution where aspiring artistes can hone their skills and match global standards.
When asked him about the untapped potential in the valley, the talented musician replied with a gleam of hope in his eyes,
“Right now my focus is to establish ‘Miraki’ as a venue which is just not a music recording studio or an educational centre but an institution where anyone who thinks their music has potential can be guided. I would like to help them with producing their music. That is my dream.”