The music by Pakistani underground artists is quite diverse and welcoming, with the recent underground, lowkey and cafe performances, more artists have had the opportunity to bloom.
The technology and social media introduction to Pakistani music has incorporated the growth of the artists. Soundcloud has always been a part of Pakistani music as various artists who once released their songs on SoundCloud, now have sold out concerts all across Pakistan.
Another application regarding marketing music is Patari. Patari has allowed artists to meet and rise above the ranks to get recognized.
Pakistani Underground Artists Who Changed the Entire Genre
Various artists turn to coke studio or Pepsi battle of the bands whereas some take matters into their own hands. When it comes to music in Pakistan; your talent will get you, listeners. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are, if you have what it takes you’ll flourish, or so we see in the case of the iconic Talha Anjum and Taha Yunus.
Pakistani music gets categorized as being sufi, ghazal, and old lollywood songs, but these youngsters have changed the entire genre. A few of them introduced their own genres as well like the Punjabi blues and Electro-Pakistani music.
Once an underground artist, always an underground artist. The inventor of ‘Punjabi Blues’, shamoon ismail is from islamabad and takes pride in the time and effort he spent to develop his music career. Since 1991 a young Shamoon would play with toy guitars, keyboards and sing his heart out.
He has five albums known as Cookie, Magic, Brown SUgar, Juice and Sars & Screws and various singles labelled Tuntuna, Jaan De, Cold World, Jutt Blues and more.
The success of his career has led him to be nominated for five prestigious Pakistani awards; Lux Style Awards 2019, Lux Style Awards 2020, Shaan – e – Pakistan Music Achievements Awards (SEPMA), Hum Style Awards and Pakistan International Screen Awards(PISA). Out of the five nominations, Shamoon has won The Shaan – e – Pakistan Music Achievements Awards in 2020 and Hum Style Awards in 2021.
He has worked alongside and in collaboration with various esteemed artists from Pakistan such as Hassan Raheem, Talha Anjum, Talha Yunus, Mooroo, Strings, Haider Mustehsan and more. Currently, he’s on the verge of accomplishing 160 thousand subscribers on youtube, where one of his hits ‘Rung’ currently stands at over 2 million views. On Spotify, the artist has over 263 thousand monthly listeners, with his most popular song being faasla.
Shamoon is an active traveller, this reflects in his music, he often explains and creates beautiful imagery in the mind of the listener; transporting them into pure Pakistani bliss. Shamoon’s mother passed away in 2014, she was a non-commissioned doctor and his Father, a Pakistan Air Force Veteran – this contributed immensely to his love of exploring, travelling and indulging in Pakistani music and arts.
Lyari Underground is more than a band, more than just music, they are a voice, a vision, they are hope. Abdulla Ahad, also known as Anxiously, has stated the vision and inspiration for the band’s music prominently. When he was young, a teacher recommended he listen to English music to improve his language skills, over time he discovered rap and artists such as Eminem and 2pac; who talks about the struggles and problems of the real world. Belonging to one of the poorest regions in Karachi, Anxiously took it upon himself to shed light on what goes on in this area, how life is, the crime, the fear, the joy, all of it.
The band consists of 6 members;
- Asadullah – Danger Baloch
- Abdul Ahad – Anxiously
- Daniyal – Slipknot Denna
- Abdullah – DJ Khaled
- Abdul Wahab Khan – Lil AK 100
- Ahmed – Desert Eagle
The boys helped each other grow as individuals and in regards to music as none of them ever received professional music degrees. Them coming together was a happy coincidence; Obviously, Danger Baloch started talking online and discovered they had been living in the same area all this time.
Their rap is mainly in Balochi and English as most of the members are Balochi, the implementation of Urdu in their music is rarely seen, in their eyes English is a better fit since its a global language and they’re trying to create a comforting, melody by blending in their mother tongue with a global language.
The band appeared in coke studio season 11, which led to the exponential growth of their fandom. Currently, they have fans all over the world with the number still growing. On youtube, they have almost 30 thousand subscribers and their most-watched video is Rap – e – Badshah, with over 100 thousand views.
The British metal band turned Progressive metal band from Lahore is known as Keerey Makorey. The lead vocalist is inspired by Bruce Dickson for the Iron Maiden, he is adored by many prestigious musicians of his time and now. As they progressed, experimented and explored, they evolved and eventually their music became a perfect blend of rock and soul genres.
Their origin story traces back to a cover of While my Guitar Gently Weeps by the Beatles being produced in a professional studio.
The name of their band stems from a place beyond the plane of existence, in their words the name was bestowed upon them by the universe itself. The band consists of six talented members;
- Misbah-Ud-Din – The guitarist and producer
- Altamash Server – The Vocalist
- Luke Azariah – The guitarist
- Yusuf and Daud Ramay – The drummers
- Zain Peerzada – The bass guitarist
They had another band member, Ibrahim Imdad, who went his separate way.
All the band mates met each other at music related events or conversations; Syed Misbah-Ud-Din and Altamash server joined forces at a Beatles tribute event to perform. Each band member has different music tastes, icons, inspirations, all of the ingredients come together and form a magnificent harmony.
The band favourite is a song called ‘sun’, many musicians release songs with no repeated verses or notes, most of the time, this becomes the favourite. The same eis the case for Keerey Makorey. The end game for this band is to produce music and bring joy and solace to their fandom until death.
The rise of modern music blended with pakistani tunes has been rising all across pakistan, one of the bands working with such tunes are The D/A Method. This band consists of four band members;
- Umair Dar,
- Talha Alvie,
- Usama Siddiq,
- Istvan Csabai,
Umair Dar and Talha Alvie are the founding members of the band since 2012. They collectively wrote songs and added the tunes but there was always something missing. In 2013, with the stunning vocals by Usama Siddiq and the powerful drumming by Istvan Csabai, they were able to debut their first album, The Great Disillusion. The album consists of 12 songs. In 2017 they released another album named The Desert Road.
During the release of their second album, The band was working with their producer; Bruce Soord. The producer gave them a deadline to finish the songs, however, this did not hinder the quality of their music.
In The Desert road, the master videography skills are visible in each individual video released on youtube. They all capture a different essence of Pakistani culture. Some work with the hidden aspects of Pakistani society, whilst others bring light to the beauty of Pakistan. The genre of the album incorporates traditional Pakistani music produced by instruments such as the SItar, Rubab, Dholak, Dambora and more. The blend is not a rare thing to see these days but the way they do it is truly unique.
SomeWhatSuper is a Pakistani EDM duo who bring the best electro beat tio vibe to. Their audience has been growing immensely over the last few years. The duo consists of Talha Dar and Feroze Faisa; both initially played music individually but after they met, the spark was immense and in their words,” The rest is history”.
They released their first collaborative track in 2015, Bandook. They reposted it on youtube in 2017; the video now has almost 950 thousand views on youtube. On Spotify, they have almost 29 thousand new monthly listeners.
The Pakistani EDM scene did exist bit no other artist wasn’t doing it exclusively; artists such as Sajjad Ali introduced them in one or two tracks which ran very well. The Pakistani EDM genre still has so much to explore as it is generally new.
Their music has the perfect balance of soul and electro pop ambience; one major hurdle they faced was people confusing EDM with drug music. By keeping their music simple, enjoyable and one which creates a vibrant ambience.
Most of their growth stemmed from social media; they used platforms like youtube, instagram, facebook, twitter to promote their music at every step, and it paid off. As they have been a part of the Lux Style Awards of 2017, Coke Fest 2020, redBull and more!
Their following and viewers are boosting constantly with their unique music taste, they aim to make electro-pakistani music a mainstream genre.
Both these Pakistani underground artists share a personal goal to explore Pakistan, the art, music, culture, all of it. The music journey has been very fruitful.
Poor Rich Boy is a Lahore based Pakistani band that debuted in 2008. Initially, the band consisted of three artists; Danish Khawaja, zain Ahsan and Shehzad Noor Butt. Danish left the band after a while, during which shehzad and Zain formed a duo and continued to play. They embarked on a journey of playing in different spots such as cafes, karaoke and more. In 2010 they welcomed two more artists and formed a band; Raavaol Sattar became the dummer and Zain Moulvi Became the bassist. Further, they were joined with Umer Khan, who was already popular and well-known in the Lahore music circle; he became the guitarist and vocalist for Poor Rich Boys.
The label ‘Poor Rich Boy’ has stemmed from the ungratefulness of the current youth, on how they whine about not getting the best phone but there are others who just want a place to sleep for the night. Shehzad stated, “We all have so many things but are still going to whine. One may have an iPod but it doesn’t function or a Civic that is old and beat up”.
Their music genre is very distinct from other young Pakistani artists; they work with profound poetry and add layers to their musical concepts. The music is meaningful and heartfelt; many have described it as being relatively mature.
They have released a total of 20 songs as of 2021, with the latest being yaqeen. On various platforms, these Pakistani underground artists have talked about their gratefulness towards the world and Allah as they are able to pursue their true calling in a country where people are deprived of basic human necessities.
Takatak is a Pakistani rock band from Lahore, they were active previously in the years 2009 till 2021, then again from 2018. Their name is derived from the spicy Pakistani dish known as katakat, it is made with different organs of the animal and marinated in masala. Then laid on a hot plate to be chopped up with a metal spatula and mixed into a divine dish. The name captures the essence of this band very well.
The band consists of 7 major members;
- Luke Azariah – guitar and synths
- Zain Peerzada – guitarist
- Isa Najam – the bassist
- Yusuf Ramay – The drummer
- Daud Ramay – Drummer
- Ali Sohail – vocalist
- Altamash Server – Vocalist
The band also has a sister band known as ‘Keerey Makorey’ which is mentioned in the list as well. The Lahore Music Meet in 2012 was a turning point for the bands, as they made their comeback with two of their most popular songs Voyager and Phantom. In 2018, their EP debuted, which consisted of four songs and was known as ‘Out of Something’. After the release of this EP, the band started working on an Album which they would name ‘Acrophase’. The album was released in 2020 and consisted of 8 songs. One of the songs was fault lines, this received immense fame across pakistan and became their most watched music video in their entire youtube channel with 58 thousand views.
All Pakistani underground artists of this band push each other into becoming the best versions of themselves and transform this genre into their own, each artist is significant to the band and appreciated to be so. Their Spotify has 5.4 thousand monthly listeners and over 3 thousand subscribers on youtube.
These Pakistani underground artists have been in production since 2013, however, they took a break after 20115 and they continued from 2019. The genre is described as beautifully melodic, forming a perfect harmonious beat that makes you lay back and relax; taking you back to your beloved memories. The band has four members;
- Sara Haider – Vocalist
- Imam Hamdani – Guitarist
- Ahsan Ghulam – Bass
- Gumby – Drums
Their 3-year 3-song run birthed their singles: barishon mein, Mona and Woh Boley. The band previously had three members; Imam, Ahsan and Gumby. While they were studying in karachi, they met Sara and immediately identified her as the missing link.
4 years after the last song production, Teen rose from the ashes with their new song ‘Ja Ba Ja’. They worked with the producer; Omran Shafique for his single. The sign had a relatively different viibe due to Omran’s production. He added a hint of pop from his band’s(Mauj) music style. The music is very young and hip and enjoyed by Pakistani youth.
The Pakistani underground artists SoundCloud has over 1.2 thousand followers, and their recent release Ja Ba Ja has over 13 thousand listens. Their most listened to song is Barishon mein; with 231 thousand listens.
Alien Panda Jury is a one man show; Daniel Panjwaneey launched the electro solo as an experiment by taking south asian instrumentals and music and putting an electro twist on them.
He has released various singles such as Infinite, Noland, Forever south and two major EPs. He has also previously been a part of Karachi’s first shoegaze band; Orangenoise. However, nobody has heard from them in a while, hence it is rumoured that they have disbanded.
Daniel has worked with Coke Studio on various occasions. For seasons four and five, his job was to tune up all the instruments and make sure they were ready for the specified band’s performance.
He received his promotion in season six when he became the Assistant audio engineer. This meant now he had the task to manage and adjust all vocals from behind the scenes, this would often make him a collaborator.
Soon he realised that this job limited his sense of creativity, so he went on to work with various actors and artists to find a place to fit in. He worked in the team of Ho Mann Jahan; which is a film by Asim Azhar and revolves around the lives of various musicians, he taught the actors how to handle and work with their designated instruments.
On this set he also received basic knowledge on how to work a guitar and learned a few chords along the way, working the set opened his eyes up to the challenges of a musician and how their passion and drive help them overcome them.
Currently, Danny is still producing music and playing with bands worldwide. He aims to work with more Pakistani underground artists and stoves in the electro-music field. He stated that he couldn’t be more grateful for this platform.
Originating in 2003, the band Sketches is a beautiful blend of Sufi music and rock. The truly original and unique music is the key to their fame. Their genres include Sufi rock, Psychedelic rock, hard rock and alternative rock. The band previously has 6 members but as they progressed two members left, leaving the 4;
- Saif Samejo – vocals (lead. backing)
- Nomi Ali – vocals(backing), guitar(rhythm), keyboard
- Atif Kalyar – guitar (lead)
- Roshan Sharma – guitar (lead, rhythm)
The musical goals of these Pakistani underground artists aren’t just to raise awareness about their culture and folk music but to encourage the younger crowd to pursue and take interest in it as well. The Sindh province faces a lot of sexism and discrimination even now, their music targets the message to live and let live. They want to create a world for the women and girls of Pakistan where they can aim high and achieve higher.
Their music carries love, when you listen to it, the powerful tunes and heartwarming messages envelop you. They have three major albums and various covers; the albums are Dastkari, Saanjhi and You.
Daskari is a Sindhi word that translates into one’s own creation’. With this album they spread the message of music having no language, if you feel it; you feel it.
The band released their next album, You, 6 years later in 2016. This is where most of the sufi music was targeted, they shone a light on the world of culture blend and created a welcoming sensation for the people of sindh.
Their most recent album, Saanjhi is more of a visual album, it talks about the pathways, environment, landmarks of Pakistan. It speaks to you like tales from a traveller. Their aim with this album is to capture the essence of Pakistan’s beauty and its well renowned breathtaking natural topography.
The band was a part of the Dubai Expo 2020 as well due to their culture representing music. They have 13.3 thousand subscribers on youtube and over 2500 monthly listeners on Spotify.