“We’ve never thought about singing individually. Singing together makes us unique and is also our strength. We know each other better than anyone else. So, we’ll keep doing what we do best,” the Baluch Twins say without hesitation.
The many conversations I've had with the singers of Nescafé Basement hit Gharoli-Ghoom Charakhra, Adil and Asim Baluch aka the Baluch Twins, led me to the conclusion that they can bring a cultural richness to Pakistan's music scene. The Baluch Twins, in my opinion, have the ability to trigger passion within young Pakistani singers, especially classical ones. That’s the right kind of energy an artist needs in order to get to work.
Adil and Asim have been inclined towards music from the very beginning. “We can’t think of a specific time in our lives when we started singing. It’s like we always have been.” But the twins don’t seem to be drunk off their newfound fame. Their journey has been long, with traditional mindsets standing as one of their main barriers, they say.
Despite their constant hard work, they don’t want to call their journey a story just yet. “We don’t really have a story. Just like any other hardworking artist, we have come across hurdles and there were problems with whatever we wanted to pursue. However, when you love something purely, you just can’t stop.”
The first break with Braadri Broadcast
In 2016, Braadri Broadcast released its fourth release Koho Talara, Des Punjab De, which was sung by Sarfraz Ali and the Baluch Twins. The song was a union of Balochi and Punjabi languages. Since the song was sung in two different languages, some listeners might find it difficult to understand. However, you don't need to understand the lyrics of Koho Talara, Des Punjab De to appreciate it. The tune has a freshness that it gives listeners a chance to teleport into a different zone to experience two different cultures for six minutes. The twins have major parts in the song.
The project with Braadri Broadcast was their first step towards professional singing. “We became part of a grand project Braadri Broadcast and that was the first time we started singing professionally. The song got a great response and since then we have continued to sing professionally.”
But what stands out is the duo’s style of singing as well as their vocal quality. Both brothers possess a certain amount of huskiness in their voices that, when paired with their knowledge of classical music and their ability to be concurrent while singing, makes their music a masterful work of art.
From Lyari to Nescafé Basement
In the past few years, Pakistan has seen the emergence of many new artists and the gradual shift of younger audiences towards Pakistani music. Whether they got famous through Instagram, had their videos go viral, or simply produced music on their own, Pakistani musicians and singers are being appreciated more now than ever before. Nescafé Basement is one of many platforms introducing new artists to the country.
The Baluch Twins were noticed after they were featured on Nescafé Basement Season 5. The song was Gharoli-Ghoom Charakhra’ which was performed by Tehseen Sakina and the twins. “The Nescafé Basement journey is probably one of the best experiences of our lives. It wasn’t only about it being a great platform but to be featured was a way for us to achieve our goals that we had set for ourselves. We really worked hard to get there, so it was a dream come true for sure.”
The brothers had wanted to be part of Nescafé Basement for a very long time and eventually, they got a chance to audition. “We had done a couple of auditions, those were online. The other was a live one that happened at Base Rock Café. We were selected on the spot, which was a dreamlike moment for us. We can never forget that, ever!”
And the song was a hit. So far, it has 5.8 million views on YouTube. All three singers and the musicians were able to give the song an energetic buildup and a vibrant end.
Adil and Asim also spoke about being artists in Pakistan. They live in Lyari and that makes their journey a bit bumpier. “Being an artist in Pakistan is not easy at all. And when you come from a place like Lyari, things get a bit more challenging. You are not on the mainstream platform or anything of that sort," say the twins. "So, you need to work harder to achieve what you wish to achieve. Life also gets challenging when you have a lot of things to pay attention to around you.”
The twins value their language. Apart from singing Urdu songs, they give importance to Baluchi music, which is not yet part of the mainstream music industry. The duo is giving listeners a chance to explore that part of the country’s culture. With artists like the Baluch Twins, who exuberantly talk about their language, the younger generation gets a chance to be introduced to not just a language but a lifestyle that is very much a part of this country yet goes largely unnoticed.
“We have sung 25 songs professionally, of which 10 are originals. We want to revive and portray the unseen perspective of Balochi music as well, which is why we cover songs we think should be shared,” they say.
Covid and Pakistan's musicians
Pakistani singers are struggling to create and perform due to the pandemic. Some have begun testing out skills that they might not have previously paid attention to. The Baluch Twins are also currently dealing with this, however, they have found a way not be isolated from music completely. “We’ve been trying to create music ourselves for a year now. This Covid-19 period has made us explore more about the production process.”
The twins continue to post covers regularly on Instagram and YouTube. They are filmmaking students and are currently studying at the University of Karachi. But despite their hectic schedules, they aren't compromising on their creative process. “It hasn't been easy and it’s definitely going to be even more difficult, but hope is the best thing out there. Without difficulties, you can never know the value of your achievements.”
The Baluch Twins have been singing since they were very young and their first inspiration was their father. "He had this harmonium that he would randomly play, doing a formal practice of Sa Re Ga Ma. He always listened to some really good music though and that inspired us a lot.”
And it's this inspiration that has carried them on their journey. Despite being twins, Asim and Adil have very divergent styles. But with both combined, we get a rich, vibrant, completely original, and fresh essence that is a treat for music lovers.