Strings is current; a testament to collaborative artistic strength that has appealed to multiple generations of Pakistani, Southasian and global audiences. Its music is diverse and tells stories that are personal, originating from youthful memories of our sea side town to mature perspectives on nation, community and love. Melodious story telling coupled with a legacy of poetry, writing and the arts - Strings is what one generation knew as the soundtrack to freedom and heartache, and what the current knows as an amalgam of veteran musicianship and cutting edge production.
Salt Arts presents Strings, live for Karachi. Bring your old love, to an early winter night in the city of Strings.
Strings is now - but with its nowness, Strings invokes nostalgia. It's sound brings back the texture of a beat up borrowed car, a stolen kiss, a salty sea breeze, a rickety tape recorder, the memory of a clunky camera, an expensive roll of photo film - a red lipstick, a young man with a guitar at a family wedding - and for then and now it gives the Pakistani audiences an ownership of Southasia's contemporary legacy of pop music.
Salt Arts celebrated the band's legacy with a pop of vintage glamour and a trip down the memory lane: 30 years of music and friendship, college benches and fatherhood.
The red lipstick for the album cover for Strings 1 was my father's idea. We weren't sure but he was really keen to use it! I think he had been inspired by some vinyl records he had lying around at the time. The designer had to layer it traditionally with butter paper as opposed to the the digital formats today. So he layered the strings picture, then the font and the lipstick and lines. We weren't even that happy with the lipstick thing but my father just said 'karo, karo', so we kind of just did it. But I’m happy that we did it! People remember that cover because of that lipstick. ~ Bilal Maqsood, Strings
Whether it was because I was the eldest in the group, or known for not teasing the younger students, or because she simply needed to say it aloud - but S. feverishly showed me ’The Letter’, the letter from her Crush. I didn’t ask to read it but I could easily read the contents in her face. Those unread words bewitchingly swirled in happy colors in her visage. Sitting in the front seat, I had control of the music. Usually, I took requests, but I wanted to gift S. something special, something with which she could mark that beautiful day. Strings I had the answer as I felt that it had to be the album opener, Piyar Se. As our thumbelina-sized Suzuki sputtered up the sun-drenched Margala Hills to the Lok Virsa Festival that afternoon, Strings came along with us. I turned and looked in the backseat; sitting between my sisters, S. joyfully sang along Faisal K. and Bilal M. and constantly giggled. When the chorus crooned, “piyaaaaaaaar hai!’ we would all sing-songy answer, “hai, hai!” while S.’s smiles beamed to the high heavens. For many months after that golden, dreamy afternoon, if I passed S. at school, I’d just casually whisper, ‘piyaaaaaaaar hai?’ and she’d always answer, ‘hai, hai!’ That crush didn’t work out and it was okay. Crushes come and go; Strings remain forever. Kiyoun ke ‘piyaaaaaaaar hai! hai, hai!’ ~ Maryam O. Baig
Karachi-based DJ and producer Rudoh, aka Bilal Nasir Khan opened the set for Strings. Rudoh is a wizard who applies his influences of hip-hp, LA beats, house, soul and jazz to spin lush soundscapes with "squelchy" bass lines and heavy polyrhythms.
Strings for Karachi
Khaula joined the team for a session with the artists with them reminiscing about being together for 30 years, about Seaview and about being fathers.
Once upon a time, I stood in a tiny barber shop late one night somewhere in Karachi and gave Bilal Maqsood a champi for Dhaani (the music video)-- nearly 14 years later, I photographed him at their studio ... This was a wonderful moment- watching two of my favorite singers jamming casually and having a blast with their band.