Islamabad: From being the youngest child in Karachi, to have ever performed in a studio to delivering one of the biggest pop hits in Pakistan’s history, Shallum Xavier has always had the knack to exceed expectation and surprise people. With his latest project “Jam Room”with Rinstra, he aims to do more of the same.
After being in the limelight for more than two decades, the fire still burns. The current ways of the industry and our society are a source of frustration. As the one leading the project, Shallum has been laying down the markers as to what he aims to achieve and the challenges he faces.
Fuzon guitarist points towards a complete lack of music culture in our country. Artists have no avenues to showcase their talents, with pubs or clubs as we see in different countries. So, unless you somehow make it huge, there isn’t much you can do, irrespective of your talents. Another thing, he laments is the culture of seeing music just as a side on or a form of entertainment. Massive corporations invest in organizing food festivals, where music is just an added element – a type of entertainment. Whereas, around the world, you have music festivals and food stalls are in the background, just as a necessity.
The after effect of this thought process is that people don’t see musician as stars. Corporations have come forward to support artists to some degree but as per Shallum, they can only do so much. It’s the masses who makes stars and that isn’t happening.
But this man isn’t one to run away, and is taking on the responsibility to shake up things. Jam Room with Rinstra is a step towards providing all artists a platform. For him, the basic idea is to keep things minimalistic and create something magical with an African instrument called Kahu and a base guitar. Given Shallum’s breadth of experience from the grassroots to the top, he knows the right sort of musicians who will fit the purpose. People who don’t get a look in elsewhere.
Currently, the project has started in Karachi but there a plan to spread across different major cities. He is determined to make it happen and affirms the idea that you don’t need backing of mega brands to create something impressive. His vision is to promote acoustic music across Pakistan.
So how would he go about creating a song? Again, there has been complete clarity on his part. Composition is all about feel. It doesn’t have to be mechanical. So, to a well-trained ear like Shallum’s, it is all about getting the right elements together and waiting for the magic to happen. It could about a change in the melody or getting the right vocalist.
Like a blueblood musician, he cannot wait for the time when live music events are a thing again. Digital platforms have been instrumental and vital due to the pandemic, but the ace guitarist is inching to go back in from a live audience.
For upcoming musician, there is simple piece of advice. Be positive and have lots of determination because it’s essential. For someone who has seen the industry inside and out, it’s unsurprising to see him call things out as he sees them. We have a “music scene” and “no industry”, in his own words and there are some stumbling blocks which have to be removed, if we are to reach the stage of an industry.
In fact, things have gone backwards to some degree when he compares it to the time when he as making his way up. People were having events every week, in apartment buildings and houses. Shallum, who had the experience to travel and play in the west, was reveling in that type of culture. But things have changed a fair bit now and the young folks have to fight their way through in an almost lone battle.
Rinstra is his ways of giving back and pushing for a positive change. He is going all in with the project.
But you cannot talk about or to Shallum without mentioning the elephant in the room, a Fuzon comeback.
Is there any hope of the original line up, coming back together?
Well, 2021 comes bearing somewhat good news.
It can happen says Shallum.
For all the fans of Fuzon, hope is all they need. Here is to a Covid free future; Jam Room gives us new stars and Fuzon gives us new hits.