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The Driving Force Behind The Lahore Music Meet

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Pakistan’s Leading Music Festival: The Lahore Music Meet [#LMM5] hosted its fifth edition which took place at Alhamra Art Center in Lahore on the 1st and 2nd of February 2020. Once again, the team at The Music Meet brought the two-day musical celebration to 4 stages packed with Live Performances, Masterclasses and Conversations with Pakistan’s finest musicians.

This music festival is entirely women-led. consisting of all the female directors. Natasha Norani and Zahra Paracha are the driving force behind the whole setup. Let’s have a conversation about the success of Lahore Music Meet, 2020.

  1. You have been very successful in providing a platform for the underground music scene. What was the inspiration behind launching such an event?

When we were in college, we decided to do our undergraduate thesis on music in Pakistan. One of the biggest challenges we faced was a severe lack of research and avenues we could explore to find answers to questions we had. The entire industry was extremely fragmented at best, and it was difficult for us to navigate through that. We decided to hold a music conference and bring academics, businessmen, and musicians in the same space to help us with our research. We are also musicians and wanted to do something to help facilitate the music scene in Lahore in whatever way we could at the time.

 

  1. Pakistani music, over the last decade or so, has found various avenues to express itself. What sets LMM apart in regards to how that music is expressed?

 

Absolutely — there are several great avenues where Pakistani artists can express themselves and get the recognition they deserve. Every year, we face challenges and hurdles in the organization aspect of this festival but we still manage to draw in massive crowds every time we do this. I think the thing that sets LMM apart from other avenues is that it is a platform for artists by artists. The programming reflects our musical learning curves and interests at the time. We try to actively scout for and seek talent that we believe people should hear. That’s why we open up applications for the outdoor stage at LMM every year.

  1. That’s incredible. It’s amazing how you took the initiative to build a platform for local talent where they can express themselves without music without any bounds or chains holding them back. Do you think that’s an important aspect of what makes LMM what it is? The unfettered, unfiltered sounds of Lahore? How important is it for you to maintain that authentic credibility that seems lacking in other music platforms?

Z: There has to be freedom attached to your art, otherwise there is a certain level of inauthenticity. This is a personal value I believe in, and it is a difficult idea to pitch to companies or entities we are dependent on. But when you allow artists that freedom to express themselves, that energy they bring to the stage is what draws people in towards the festival at the end of the day.

N: I do think it’s one of LMM’s biggest strengths that we are able to provide a safe, nurturing space for artists to express themselves and share their musicality without having to water down or filter themselves. The value in not being a commercial event allows us to provide this creative control to anyone on the LMM roster.

 

 

  1. So what is the process of discovering talent and projecting them to a large audience full of music enthusiasts? How do you filter through the greats from the good? What is the litmus test for performances?

 

Since 2016, we began an application process for bands who want to perform. This is a good way to filter out nepotism and discover new talent who may not be able to reach out to us on a personal level. This helps us gauge whether they are a good fit for our overall programming. In addition to this, we encourage our applicants to only apply with original music and not covers. We try to ensure that we cover all genres in this process to showcase the diversity of contemporary Pakistani music.

 

  1. Two women leading the charge to bring about the resurgence of underground Pakistani music. What are some of the obstacles you have faced leading such a grand venture?

 

Z: The music industry is essentially a boy’s club by default — I have found very few women on the technical side of things especially. Since I am the lead sound engineer, I initially found myself in awkward positions trying to get some musicians to talk to me rather than through me. I do not face those problems as much anymore, but I imagine it may have been a different case if I was a sound wala as opposed to being a sound wali.

N: It’s definitely been difficult to be taken seriously from board rooms to studios. There is a lot of having to work extra hard to showcase that I am indeed a credible individual who can navigate through the nuances of the industry. It refreshes every year so it often feels like starting from scratch.

 

  1. More power to you! Obviously the underground scene is only beginning to show how much talent is present here in Lahore in terms of music. What surprises me is how well you manage to have a place for a lot of different, diverse genres of music at the same table. Someone who listens to rap might not be interested in what the indie rock scene has to offer. How do you get those fans to get out of their comfort zone and listen to different kinds of music?

 

The way our programming works is that we fit every area in AlHamra with various sessions happening simultaneously. Normally, people come for a session or two and accidentally end up listening to a couple of bands perform that they end up liking and becoming fans of. The idea is for people to see the diversity that Pakistani music has to offer and to be open to genres that they are not necessarily used to.

 

  1. In countries where the underground music scene is already established, it’s incredibly rare to find an event that amalgamates different genres of music. LMM is such an event. Usually, a punk show will only incorporate punk bands, an EDM festival will only cater to fans of that genre. Do you think of the fact that LMM dares to do things differently is a strength?

 

Absolutely. In Pakistan, it seems that the most visible music gets to be the face of Pakistani music in general, and corporate music gets the most visibility by default. There is an overwhelming misconception about what defines Pakistani music. When we scout for acts and plan sessions for LMM, we come across the strangest and most obscure ideas that are just as Pakistani as the most mainstream of artists. Our programming aims to reflect that diversity even if the contrast is as prominent as keeping a metal band on the same night as a Qawwal group.

 

  1. LMM also offers niche sounds that perhaps aren’t for the casual listener. The Avant-garde Dronepop of Slowspin, to the Groove Metal of Takatak, to the Indie Psychedelic Prog-Rock sounds of Janoobi Khargosh and Wisdom Salad. How do you get the audience to have such a great time with music they might not have an ear for?

 

Z: I feel as though the bands we choose are extremely talented, and if we are able to provide publicity, sound and logistical support, their music speaks for itself. We essentially provide the mahaul while the artists do what they are best at.

N: Honestly, it’s just about having faith in the bands. The people in our line-up are people who personally get us excited as well! If they can elicit those emotions in smaller arenas and in demos, imagine what they can do on an LMM stage!

  1. In these 5 years of LMM being established, it has quickly found its place as a culturally significant event in the city. Now that you’re an established brand, how do you manage to not only meet people’s expectations every year but exceed them?

LMM is a combination of both of our ideas and thoughts coming together in the form of a festival. Initially, we used to think along the lines of meeting people’s expectations but now we just try to do what we think is best from a cultural and social perspective. Thinking about the programming and curation from a holistic perspective helps this festival become a better version of itself every year.

 

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Stepping into a Refreshing Lifestyle with Bisha Shabir

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Being one of the popular forms of exercise, yoga focuses on breathing, strength, and flexibility. It has innumerable physical and mental health benefits. Since 2012, the percentage of people practicing yoga has increased to a good number in adults as well as children. It encourages to exercise more, inspires to eat more healthfully, improves sleep quality and reduces stress levels.
In the time of this deadly pandemic, we all are staying home and searching for healthy outlets to survive. Through general research, it has been established that “yoga” is one of the trending activities that people are opting for in this situation to stay positive. Different experts are conducting online yoga classes and Bisha Shabir is one of them. She is the founder of a yoga studio called “The Yoga Wall”. Her tips are as interesting as her sessions to pull through this time in a productive and refreshing way.
We had a short conversation with the yogi and she definitely has important points to share.
Tell us about yourself? 
I first started practicing yoga in 2002 and taught for the first time in 2011; since my first class, yoga has always been a way for me to create greater physical space and emotional awareness in my body.
The joy I feel from teaching comes from being able to deconstruct physical postures and theories (traditional/contemporary) in a way to make them accessible to everyone. Yoga can look and feel so different to two individuals and it is empowering to understand what works for your body.  And that for me, is the foundation of self-healing.
I have studied anatomy and biomechanics in the context of movement as well as diving into work through understanding the nervous system and mindfulness practices. All these help bridge the gap between mind and body. Everyone and I mean EVERYBODY can practice yoga. You just need to figure out what that may look like for you and through this, I hope to inspire my students to develop long-term, sustainable practices for better health. Concepts of mindful-movement and therapies of the like support the development of yoga on and off the mat.
As a teacher, I am registered with The worldwide Yoga Alliance (as an E-RYT 200, RYT 500 and YACEP) and credit my teachers Holly Warren (YogaLondon), Jason Crandall (Vinyasa Method), Judith Hanson Lasater (Restorative Yoga), Tara Brach (Mindfulness Meditation) and Eka Ekong (YogaWorks). I am also fortunate to have studied with and/or influenced greatly by the teachings of Tiffany Cruikshank, Corrie MaCullum, Andrew McGonagall, and Celest Perera.
What exactly is “The Yoga Well”? 
The Yoga Well supports my dream to see the individuals depend on their relationship with their inner selves through practices that promote connection to the physical self and awareness across mental states. The human experience is a closed-loop, with the players being the physical body, the nervous system/mental space and our external environment. Mindfulness (awareness-based practice) helps the circulation within the loop to move smoothly.
The studio plays host to yoga classes, courses, free talks and by the end of the year, Yoga teacher training!
When did you realize you wanted to be a yogi?
A coach of mine made a suggestion that I add yoga to my training; I was 16 at the time and like most, I had preconceived notions on what the practice looks like.
I remember falling in love with yoga in my first class; since then, my personal practice has evolved and been a great influence on the way I view the world.
Teaching was happenstance- I was asked to assist in a workshop and then shortly after cover a yoga class. After that, as they say, the rest is history.
How do you keep yourself motivated for yoga every day? 
After experimenting with different ways, I figured that I am motivated by choosing smaller, shorter practices. This may range from laying on my back with props for five minutes in the day to a stronger, hour-long session. I discovered that the more planning involved kept me from getting onto my mat. So I choose according to my mood at the moment; what is calling out to me that particular day. I do have one requirement though- that I do something for at least five minutes a day.

This has been my personal experience but not necessarily how others may work. Some individuals thrive by setting out a specific time each day to do something on their mat; others need guidance in a class setting that may motivate them to practice regularly.
“Yoga doesn’t help you lost weight” – Your views? 
I think weight loss through yoga is an individual experience but cannot be marketed widely. Weight loss through yoga may be a by-product for some individuals but it is not guaranteed for all; burning fat is a metabolic process and while some people’s fat-loss is supported through a yoga practice, they are likely making other lifestyle changes to facilitate it.
I believe that yoga should not be approached as a means to influence the physical shape/outline/body fat percentage but to better understand what your mental habits are, how you move and how all of it reflects in your overall lifestyle.
It is important for me to reiterate here that yoga is a practice for the mind more than the body. Working in a physical way is a resource and tool to prepare the mind space.
Depression is home to the empty mind, what do you suggest for working women\men to do while working from home? 
I encourage everyone I meet to take some time to develop a short mediation practice every day. It takes five minutes to sit and notice your surroundings, eventually resting the attention on the breath to get you in the habit of meditating regularly. There are many helpful phone apps that can set you up!
5 general steps to stay away from depression these days? 
– Movement of any kind: yoga, training, running, climbing stairs, whatever gets your muscles moving. Remember to start small!
– Talk to people! Social engagement is important; it stimulates a safety response in our nervous system; thus alleviating stress and anxiety from being in self-isolation.
– Eat nutritious food; healthier food boosts your immune system, keeping your energy levels (and your mental state) balanced
– Take a pause every now and then. Just a minute or two to connect to your breath. Notice what it’s like. It’s depth; how it makes you feel. Is it full? Shallow? No matter what the reasons may be, simply notice what the breath FEELS like.
–  Similar to the breath practice, it helps to journal your thoughts a few minutes a day. Write about ANYTHING that comes to mind.
Are energies real? Do they really affect us?
You’ve probably heard the statement “your vibe attracts your tribe.” 
What we as humans project out energetically is what you bring back to ourselves. If you view the world through a guarded filter, you in effect, bring more of guarded energy to your life. If you view the world through the lens of understanding, compassion, you can better respond to challenges that arise.
How important is it to introduce physical activities in our routine in the current situation? 

There is an anatomical principle: “if you don’t use it, you lose it;” It’s super important for our muscle and mind memory to continue working, even from home. 
Movement and brain health are interconnected; doing something every day can reduce a feeling of restlessness. Our landscapes have changed drastically and the mind is still trying to catch up. By moving, you can bring back familiarity to your routine.
What has been your favorite spot in the north where you love performing yoga? 
I can’t choose one spot but I’ve had the pleasure of practicing outdoors in spaces with minimal human intervention. There is a certain peace and joy from being in an open space.
What are the 5 yoga poses that can help reduce stress and should be incorporated in daily routine?
1. Savasana (Corpse Pose)!
 It’s usually the last and final rest pose we practice in all yoga classes. A little tip though, you can practice Savasana on its own too! I teach restorative classes that only focus on different shapes of this pose and it’s incredibly grounding and stimulates a healing response in your body. It’s also very simple to do!
2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
 Downward Facing Dog is incredibly therapeutic. It energizes the body through strength as well as stretches bigger sets of muscles.
3. Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall) 
Laying on your back with your legs elevated is deeply relaxing and soothes the nervous system. Great for those who have trouble sleeping.
4. Set Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge pose- best with props) 
Laying in the bridge, with support under your sacrum is quite comforting, You can add some stretch by straightening your legs forward.
5. Balasana (Child’s pose): 
Again, a passive pose to help you slide inward.

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Body By Butter Introduces the Keto-Friendly scrumptious Dessert Menu

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This is the time when gyms have shut down, we cannot go out for jogging or a healthy walk and we are “trying” to look for healthy food options. Although we all are in search of productive activities to do, we certainly cannot control our diet. After all, what else Punjabis can do better than eating a new dish every day?
It is rightly said that an empty mind always diverts its attention towards the next meal.
Here we have got you a perfect rescue. Body By Butter not only serves the best keto savory flavors but also makes a range of desserts that are perfect for anyone following a ketogenic diet.
From their best-seller chocolate truffles, brownies and fresh strawberry cheesecake with almond crumble, they offer some delectable desserts like Chia Seeds Greek Yogurt with fresh strawberry jam and Chocolate mousse which are made with perfection and are probably the best options we all need for your sweet tooth.
So, sit back and order your favorite pick from their yummy menu now!!!

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‘Tere Saath’- a ballad of love and heartbreak

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Abdullah Qureshi is back with another superb single, which is sure to become your favorite song of this season. The single titled ‘Tere Saath’ is Qureshi’s first collaboration with renowned music producer Eahab Akhtar. The song has been sung and penned by both the artists while Akhtar has composed and produced the music.

The song was recorded over two days after Qureshi got a call from Akhtar to give a listen to the new track that he had made. Things came together from that point on, and here we are with a beautiful composition that is fun, quirky, sad, and impactful at the same time.

The song comes as a breather of fresh air in the current times when everyone is confined to their houses because of the global pandemic. The song, written in English and Urdu, is a fusion of contemporary and pop music. It’s a happy-sad song, something that hasn’t been done before.

The song is about a lover asking his beloved the age-old question that people usually ask in love, “How could you do this to me?” The lover reminisces about the dreams he had for them, but they could never be fulfilled. He says there isn’t anything left to be said between the two of them and that things happen in life. According to him, the world is full of liars. That is why he wants to speak the truth because he isn’t like others. All of that is said through an upbeat melody that is sure to get you grooving.

The overall feel of the song is very western but retains its flavor and soul with the use of simple yet powerful lyrics in Urdu. The arrangement of the song is equally unique with the use of instruments such as guitar, drums, and techno beats that transform you into a musical world.

 

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