Think it's tough to be a female musician? These women don't think so!

Think it's tough to be a female musician? These women don't think so!

Sanam Marvi, QB, Zoe Viccaji and Komal Rizvi talk about the year that was and share plans for their music in 2016
Updated 08 May, 2017

The year 2015 was particularly fruitful for music in terms of performances, concerts, song launches etc. One event which remained visible throughout the year was Unplugged by Hasan Rizvi. The idea behind it is simple — to revive the culture of live music in the City of Lights.

After signing off 2015 with Unplugged Grand Finale featuring four versatile female artistes in live performances, Images on Sunday caught up with the foursome of Sanam Marvi, Zoe Viccaji, Quratulain Baloch and Komal Rizvi for a chit chat.

The Unplugged Grand Finale performance

Sanam Marvi: It was great to perform for such an energetic audience. The idea of having all female vocal artists was just wonderful.

Zoe Viccaji: It definitely felt like a finale because it was bigger than all the other events, and just the energy of the crowd was amazing. We had had our own show a week before so the band was in great form and we had a fantastic time.

Quratulain Baloch: Quite interesting. Having peerless female voices under one roof is rare. It was quite a bit of fun.

Komal Rizvi: Unplugged is very dear to me not only because of my brother (Hasan Rizvi) but also because after such a huge lull in the live music arena (concerts) it’s a welcome and exclusive breath of fresh air. Performing for it is an honour and bucket-loads of high energy and fun.

What’s on next

SM: I’ve done some national and international gigs. Now I’m busy with some new projects which you will hear about soon enough.

ZV: I just released the first song of my upcoming mini-album and am now working on the music video for the next. I’m working on some other songs as well with various artists around the country. Right now, I’m on a break post the heavy end of 2015, basically taking a step back and re-evaluating everything.

QB: A lot, actually. Bunch of assignments in the pipeline and can’t wait to share my debut album with all of you.

KR: I just finished touring the US and Dubai. I covered a unique set of corporations like Yahoo! Oracle, Microsoft etc. It’s been exciting yet exhausting, motivating yet draining. I did lots of new mash ups and songs from my own album are sounding tighter than ever.

The tough side of being a female vocalist

SM: I have never thought about it. Generally, I feel it depends upon the listeners. As long as they are there we will keep our hopes high.

ZV: I don’t think being male or female makes a difference really … or at least I’ve never related such things to gender. We all have our challenges and I can only hope for the best for myself.

QB: When it comes to me, I think I’m able to bring a unique sound to our music. There’s a lot of margin so I’m excited about exploring what I’m capable of.

KR: I’m very lucky as I have never really had to struggle too hard. I love music, I love Pakistan and I owe all my success and respect to Pakistanis. The scope for female vocalists is awesome so long as one believes in oneself ... and puts in that extra effort.

“I’m not sure gender affects one’s success as an artist. One used to be able to say that there are fewer females and so there isn’t so much competition, but as you can see from this event and the content that is coming out that the number of female artists is on the rise.” — Zoe Viccaji

Facing challenges in music

SM: If we talk about Pakistan, the scene is somewhat tough. We have to tackle social and cultural issues along with other problems directly related to the industry. Emerging female singers with no background in music usually face more such problems.

ZV: Again, I’m not sure gender affects one’s success as an artist. One used to be able to say that there are fewer females and so there isn’t so much competition, but as you can see from this event and the content that is coming out that the number of female artists is on the rise.

QB: If you got what it takes then there’s no other more welcoming industry in Pakistan than our music industry. But competence and passion are key elements here. I’ve seen a lot of good female singers shy away just because being a female vocalist isn’t given much respect in our society. Parents don’t approve of it. I can literally name them here. I myself am an example.

KR: It’s challenging for every musician in the industry. With all the instability and politics, the entertainment industry is always the first to take a hit. Add to it the fact that our music industry is very haphazard and not very streamlined in terms of record labels, music channels, royalties, digital security and copyright etc.

Take on current music scene

SM: We are forgetting our origins and roots. I hardly see any music academy, parents do not care to teach music to their kids and the few newcomers we get are very raw with barely any knowledge of the basics.

ZV: I know artists have seen better days in Pakistan, and I can only hope that it gets as good again.

QB: It’s there but it’s clinging to others like the revival of the film industry, which of course is a good omen. We need to identify ourselves as an independent industry.

KR: It’s getting bigger and better than it has in the past decade which is a big relief, and an even bigger reason to smile for all music lovers.

The role of corporate sponsorship

SM: In such a scenario, corporate sponsorship is the only hope for the promotion and progression of the music industry.

ZV: It depends on the quality of involvement — putting on shows and making music videos is a pretty costly process and it helps to have a brand not only supporting the construction but also helping in marketing and the push. This is, of course, granted that the music is good. The only complication is the brand meddling too much in the creativity of the music. I feel we need to understand the charm of subtle advertising. If corporates merely support and don’t try too much to shape the music they are supporting, they will go on for much longer.

QB: Of course it does! Corporate sponsorship does help in the promotion of the music industry.

KR: Corporate sponsorship does help. But good music is good music.

Eye on future

SB: As I said before, there are a few projects coming up.

ZV: Working on more music of my own as well as collaborating with other artists. I hope I can take it to a bigger scale as time goes by. I dream of working on an album with an European orchestra that I’ve been following.

QB: Sticking around and seeing where else I can get my feet in. I can’t say much about tomorrow cause life is uncertain. Thankful for every day.

KR: I have a big local tour coming up in February, a new song which will be an international collaboration with Josh and a movie track coming out very soon.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, January 24th, 2016


azzythehillbilly Jan 26, 2016 11:13am
Zoe Viccaji is the best of the lot.
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mudasar Jan 26, 2016 12:13pm
QB i love you!!!! i love your voice!
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khan gee Jan 26, 2016 12:46pm
Best singers
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Goga Nalaik Jan 26, 2016 03:06pm
SM : You are the best
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AR Jan 27, 2016 10:34am
QB, one of the finest singer of new generation !
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