What's brewing in the Basement? We find out

What's brewing in the Basement? We find out

This Nescafe Basement season has a bigger and more diverse group of musicians than previous seasons, shares Xulfi
Updated 12 Mar, 2016

Nescafe Basement is a distinct project for two reasons: one, it is a classical epitome of a musician’s dedication towards Pakistani music; two, it is a selfless effort on the part of a corporate entity for the promotion of music among the young

With Season 4, Xulfi proves that our music scene continues to evolve despite its many challenges. Images on Sunday sat down with Xulfi to learn more about the season, hits and misses, expectations and the sound.


Season 4 is finally on air. How do you feel?

Elated. Satisfied. And most importantly, I’m excited to see how the audience reacts to this season’s music. We have not only put all our efforts into making this possible but have also invested our emotions into this season’s music. It will be evident when you hear the music. It’s going to connect with everyone on different levels.

This season has the highest number of musicians participating. Was it a conscious decision or did it happen by chance?

Yes and No. Yes, because the songs that I had planned needed more musicians. And no because I hadn’t planned that big a number.

During the auditions, I was unable to contain my excitement whenever I found a gem. Moreover, it feels unfair to someone who is sitting right in front of me and performing immaculately. Audition is a very emotional time for me. The usual perception is that music is dying a slow death with the youth of the country. On the contrary, I’m amazed by the kind of musicians I continue to discover year after year. And, when these musicians surface through Nescafe Basement and people talk about them and their talent in the most encouraging of ways, I feel I’m on the right path. This is my young Pakistan and I am proud of it!

You said recently that the fourth season is your favourite so far. Why so?

Creating music has to be an evolutionary process. And a process in which everyone contributes to the vision that the music stands for. It has to be a perfect balance of teamwork and mentorship. I feel we were able to achieve that balance this season. It’s pretty simple to understand once you see the videos and hear the music. This season has a bigger and a more diverse group of musicians than any of the previous seasons. And therefore the sound differs as well.

Is the focus more on original music?

We have a very clear and distinct aim: mentor the young musicians to speed up their creative process and their musicmanship so that they can contribute to any piece of music in their own artistic way, and understand the nitty gritty of a musical arrangement.

When I select the songs, I make sure that it’s such a diverse selection that it can take the artists out of their comfort zone, so that they learn new things and make an effort to implement their own textures in music genres and hence create a unique musical arrangement. There have been a total of 17 originals in the first three seasons. This number is going to increase further this season.


The experience of being a part of Nescafe Basement?

Hasan Farid Zafar: I can’t seem to find enough words to describe my experience. It has been surreal, exciting, nerve-racking but at the same time challenging and filled with amazing memories. If I were given the opportunity, I’d do it all over again with even more enthusiasm and vigour.

Kristin Kanaria: It’s been absolutely amazing and I’ve learned so much about music as well as general lessons about life on a whole from my mentor Xulfi Bhai and my fellow musicians.

Yasrah Haseeb: Working with all these amazing people, getting to know everyone, and working like a family. I never thought that the bond would be this strong. We have all built this strong relationship with each other which can never be damaged. I had the time of my life working with every single one.

Your family’s reaction on being chosen?

Hasan Farid Zafar: My parents have been supportive of my music since day one. I still remember the day I told them that I had been selected; they both embraced me tightly and celebrated with the entire family.

Kristin Kanaria: They were ecstatic. Still are. Nobody knows better than my family how important music is to me. They’ve never been prouder, especially mum and dad.

Yasrah Haseeb: My family has been supporting me since the very first day. My dad is like the most supportive dad on the planet. He would carry the keyboard around wherever I go. My mum got me Xulfi bhai’s number and persuaded me to text him every day to listen to my music. When I made it to the show, it was a moment of pride for them.

Do you plan to pursue music as a full-time career?

Hasan Farid Zafar: As soon as I get done with my studies I plan on going abroad to learn music theory. I will take music with me wherever I go.

Kristin Kanaria: Music has always been my favourite thing to do and I believe if I’ve been blessed with such amazing talent, I should definitely pursue it as a full-time career.

Yasrah Haseeb: Being an artist and telling people what music really is has always been my dream. I want to go abroad, study music and let people know that we Pakistanis are much more than what they think we are. Music has impacted me in and out. It’s a part of me now.

Originally published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, March 6th, 2016


Just here Mar 12, 2016 01:09pm
Nescafe basement is just like cokestudio but better
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Siri Mar 13, 2016 09:28pm
Very impressed with what Xulfi has manage to create with young talents in his basement. Only if this coffee sponsor could learn a bit from Coke studio, they don't need to be all over the place all the time in all kind of graphics! One logo on the screen with Nescafe should be enough - other wise it has countereffect!
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