It’s hard to keep track of the many talents of Risham Faiz Bhutta, or RFB as she prefers to be known. She’s multi-faceted and has dabbled in art, theatre, music and has her own tattoo parlour by the name of Ink It Slow. You can see most of her non-tattoo artwork on canvas on the Ink It Slow’s Instagram page as well.
In terms of her music, she’s collaborated with most of the usual suspects and rising stars in the underground music scene. There’s her partnership with Hasan Raheem on 'Darr', with Rozeo on 'Fittay Mu' and with Rap Demon on 'Saan Ruk Janda'. If you haven’t seen her perform live in person, you can always check out YouTube videos of her performances. There is no lack of confidence here; RFB loves the limelight and is a natural entertainer.
As a singer, RFB has tried creating an identity as someone with a punk-goth-emo aesthetic. Both in terms of her persona and how she sings — low, almost humming into the microphone, which comes across as somewhat dark and creepy at times. At times you’re wishing she would show us more of her vocals, because you really want to know what she’s really capable of, but alas, not for now.
She’s stuck to this style in both of her latest releases, 'Sitaaray' and 'Khushbu'. RFB has written and composed both of these songs. While Sitaaray is a pretty decent, good song to listen to, Khushbu is even better.
Risham Faiz Bhutta shows off her vocal talents in her latest moody releases, 'Sitaray' and 'Khushbu'
'Sitaaray' is an electropop number which starts off with a strong electro-percussive rhythm that sets the tone for the song. Most of the song is RFB singing the chorus and post-chorus lines on repeat.
She softly croons the following chorus line: “Chalein sitaaray/ Saaray jahanon se aagay chalein tou milengey/ Banein puranay/ Sapno se bhi hum tau tang aa ke kartay bahanay.” The lyrics are probably meant to convey a general feeling of ennui and cryptic longing than be understood literally.
The intro of the tabla in the second half of the song prevents 'Sitaray' from becoming too monotonous.
Her latest release, 'Khushbu' starts with a more complex, yet understated, electronic intro. The song is entirely in Punjabi. Again, most of it is RFB singing the chorus, first lightly and then (vocally) really, really giving it her all: “Hoo machawan sab shor/ Bulawan teri or/ Murr jawan aihoi morr/ Bethi mein raat din jithay tu/ Kahani ais pyaar di jaadu.” More cryptic messaging.
In 'Khushbu', we finally get to hear a bit more of Risham Faiz Bhutta’s voice and it has a sweet tonal quality to it. She also allows herself to open up far more than in the past. This is one artist that shows a lot of potential. I wouldn’t say she’s there, in terms of producing a truly memorable masterpiece, but she’s well on her way.
Originally published in Dawn, ICON, December 12th, 2021