“Hmm de Kenji” Ali Seti marvels at Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s definitive prophecy.
‘Woh din ke jis ka waada hai
Jo loh e azal mein likha hai
Lazim hai ke hum bhi dekhenge. ‘
[We will see that day that was promised to us, that was written in the tablet of eternity, it is imperative that we too will see]
These words, written by Faiz in 1979 as a protest against tyranny, still focus. “Hum dekhenge“During President Jia’s military rule, she once again sang in the march to agitate for women’s rights, in the march against the slaughter of innocent people and the rape rampant on highways and hiding just below the safe façade of our neighborhood The climax and the helpless suffer unbearable suffering, and the only rest of faith in God’s justice has been repeated over and over again to empathize with these feelings throughout the annals of history.
These lyrics were sung this time by Ali Seti as a tribute to the sufferings of the Palestinians. Along with his instantly recognizable timbre, there are electronic and experimental beats mixed by Chilean-American composer Nicholas Jarre. A beat comes in in the middle of the poem and switches to another fizz poem. Aaj Bazar mein pa bajola chalo. Towards the end, the beat boils once again to the doomed one. Hum Dekhenge.
“Faiz is inspired by Hum Dekhenge By several events, including the occupation of Israel,” Sethi explains. He was in Beirut in 1979 and witnessed it firsthand. I told Nicolas this, I sang a few lines and said I would send it to him. The next day he returned his version by adding a beat to the word. “
What does your collaboration with Jaar, a composer with an extensive repertoire of quirky electronic mixes and beats, lead to? Sethi, who has been stationed in New York City since the coronavirus outbreak, is working with Jaar on an upcoming joint project. He says he likes Jaar’s music for a long time.
“I heard him play for clubs in Istanbul, roadside in Brooklyn and rooftops in Lahore. It’s the kind of music you listen to at night whenever you’re in an urban space. I’ve been connected to Nicholas through visual artist and mutual friend Somnath Bhatt and I’m working on some very interesting collaborations. He sends me his music, I send him my work and we just wrote it together.”
Jaar’s ancestry is Palestinian and he created a just released mix titled ‘Yakjehti Mein’ when he found out that Sethi was posting frequently about the Palestinian situation. “The track was mixed by Brooklyn-based Egyptian musician Heba Kadry and the cover illustration was created by Somnath, an Indian. The title fits well because this track is truly a cross-cultural collaboration,” says Sethi.
“It was an unorthodox music mix, but Nicolas felt it fit me well,” Sethi explained about the merging of two different poems on the track. The fast-paced part sounded like a march or a procession, so I suggested singing Faiz’s second poem to the tune.”
The track was released on YouTube after Radio Al-Hara went live for Bethlehem. Music is all the more appealing because it’s unconventional. It’s also a far cry from Sethi’s most popular work, best known for making covers on the Coke Studio stage a few years ago. Can we get a glimpse of the new sound we can expect from the singer?
Yes, it is. “Starting in 2019, I embarked on a journey where I have been trying to refine my favorite niche. I’m tinkering with more experimental beats and making it with producer friend Noah Goergeson. I enjoy collaborating with artists like Nicolas that excites me, telling the stories I want to tell, and using Urdusi metaphorically. I was trying to figure out how to make videos like ‘Chandni Raat’, ‘Ishq’ and combine sounds from different cultures.”
“In Pakistan, the corporate platform is considered the only platform and is suitable for those who want to revive their artist debut or career,” Sethi said. But we need more platforms for artists who want to focus on new paths. “
Is there any other reason he hasn’t returned home for so long despite the coronavirus? “One of the main reasons is the temporary release of the virus this summer, and once again live concerts are taking place in the United States,” he says. “I prepared a series of performances in different parts of the United States.”
Like many other New Age musicians, Sethi also jumped into music performances via social media. “Instagram has become a primary stage for concerts due to the coronavirus, and many artists, including me, have learned how to monetize it,” he says. “There are currently ticketed concerts online, and digitization has become an important part of a musician’s professional life.”
He plans to return to Pakistan soon. To meet his family and work on a melody that might be Hershey right now, but will likely get spotlighted when it’s released. “Interesting and original,” that’s all he can reveal. “It’s the music I want to make.”