Abdullah Siddiqui on Faisal Kapadia’s production for Coke Studio 14 | Camber

Some have found Abdullah Siddiqui’s foray into the realm of music production to be a real game-changer. But, as Abdullah pointed out Camber in an exclusive interview, it was the combination of people and fluid ideas that lent the new season of Coke Studio 14 the flavor it has.

As the news of Faisal Kapadia debuting without Strings via Coke Studio 14 became public, many expected what Faisal Kapadia would do in this series – which departs from previous seasons, sonically and visually.

We’ve already seen the original string half, Bilal Maqsood, in several musical roles. But, the question of whether or not Faisal Kapadia would pursue the music lingered. Not anymore. Abdullah spoke to Camber to work with the veteran artist we’ve watched for nearly three decades with Strings as lead vocalist.

Abdullah Siddiqui on Faisal Kapadia's production for Coke Studio 14

“Faisal Kapadia is an iconic singer and it was interesting because his pairing and the song he’s on – it’s a very unexpected kind of collaboration. It was really kind of a challenge songwriting and as a producer to bridge the gap between these two acts.

One had to, as Abdullah noted, keep Faisal Kapadia’s voice in mind.

“It had to be in Faisal’s voice and kind of create music that carries his energy, and it was an interesting task. Her voice is so textured and lively and she tells such a story; producing for him was really amazing because I was able to apply my skills as a soundscape designer to create something that suited his tone. Her voice occupies a very specific frequency, and she occupies a very specific timbre, and producing specifically for her was a great learning experience for me. It was how to produce for different voices. I have done it in the past, but never to this extent.

Wooly and the Uke on the job
with Haniya Aslam

Abdullah Siddiqui on Faisal Kapadia's production for Coke Studio 14

For a whole generation of musicians, the first album by Zeb and Haniya, Chup, was a source of inspiration. Released more than a decade ago, the abnormal but beautiful indie-rock album came at a time when, with the exception of Hadiqa Kiani in the mainstream, female musicians in contemporary music were gone, Meesha Shafi being another exception.

Now there are all-female artists, solo female artists, groups with women and men. They make music that is bold, daring, personal, showcasing a vulnerability that had begun to fade away. Rushk’s 2006 reissue of his debut album, sawal, was often overlooked as the face of the album was represented by co-founders Uns Mufti and Ziyyad Gulzar. The singer, Nazia Zuberi Hassan, had moved away from Pakistan. Female musicians have remained sporadic in design, some leaving us perplexed. Chup became a possible cultural vernacular for future musicians.

Fast forward to 2022, Haniya may have split from Zeb, but Chup remains an iconic album for many others. Zeb does everything from film and television OST to music with his band, Sandaraa. Haniya Aslam, upon his return from Canada, continued to work on Coke Studio 11 as a guest musician on some songs as well as a featured artist on ‘Main Irada‘ and be part of the audio team. She is also working on an EP with the released title track titled ‘Ayi Re’ and it’s delicious. Both Zeb and Haniya have a different soundscape and Haniya is interested in playing her part in helping female musicians. She produced the feminist and punk anthem ‘Maa Behn Ka Danda‘ for the music group Garam Anday, and has worked on several Mehreen Jabbar films in various capacities, including starring Marina Khan Lala Begum (sound design and mixing) and Dobara Phir Se (background music, title track and musical supervisor) among others. Haniya Aslam did the audio mixing for the new single from Wooly and the Uke’How? ‘Or’ What’ and when asked how and specifically why this was important, AV artist Wooly explained, “Haniya is very fond of world music and she is very fond of folk and acoustic sounds. She was very honored to do the audio mixing, which made me feel honored. It was also important for me to work with very progressive and innovative people. Some people are quite comfortable with what they do, which is always great. My goal is to work with people who are doing something new.

Abdullah Siddiqui on Faisal Kapadia's production for Coke Studio 14

– Haniya Aslam, Wajiha Naqvi and Mehr Qadir photo by Insiya Syed

Wooly and the Uke (Jannat Sohail) photo by Mike Ioannidis, Kanella Petropoulou

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