Jamal Rahman talks about his musical beginning, establishing TBR and his future plans

Jamal Rahman of True Brew Records

Jamal Rahman of True Brew Records talks to Ahmad Uzair about his musical beginning, establishing True Brew Records, and his future plans. Here is what he has to say about all of this.
Q) Hey Jamal, tell us a bit about your musical background and how did you get into this profession?

I owe the beginning of my relationship with music to my parents. When I was 6 or 7, they bought a Bose sound system to complement their already huge cassette tape collection. There was always a diverse span of music playing in the house, and that laid the foundation for what would become my own production aesthetic. Later, as an early teen, my brother introduced and taught me the guitar and I started recording and performing a year after. Never looked back since!

Q) How did True Brew Records happen?

True Brew RecordsI wanted very much to take a different route than how a career in music in Pakistan had been generally perceived. Since performing and producing music had always been synonymous for me, my career had to be an amalgamation of the two. And so, True Brew Records was born, representing my aesthetic both musically and artistically.

Q) What would you like to say about the experience of working with so many top musicians of the country and producing music for them?

I have been exceptionally fortunate to have worked on some rewarding projects with a large selection of talent across the board. As a producer, it is my prerogative to get a performance out of an artist that will produce the best possible version of the work that we do. Music is a subjective medium, one in which what is produced can only be as good as the ideas that are poured into it. And that depends largely on the artists themselves and how far they are willing to push the envelope. One of my core principles is to always better your work with each new project and I am grateful that the artists I have worked with have been open to experimentation and to discovering new ground.

Q) You have spent considerable time abroad for your studies. What’s the basic elements that you find missing in the younger lot coming up here as compared to that in west? And what are the positives that you see over here?

Musicians in countries with thriving music scenes cut their chops through performances. Starting from the bottom of the rung, they perform their material in the small bar circuit and have to build up to larger venues and festivals as their fan base grows and music improves. Frequent performances inform each band’s aesthetic and also act as a filter for success as people vote with their feet. The fact that live music in Pakistan is limited to private affairs has stifled the growth of our music scene.

Having said that, credence must be given to the determination with which our musicians have, despite all odds, continued producing music. The love for the art itself has been its main driving force and that is an admirable quality.

Q) We have heard that currently you are working on some big projects under the banner of True Brew Records. Please let our readers know about it, specially your association with the much talked-about upcoming movie ‘Manto’?

TBR is currently involved in a number of efforts whose over-arching aim is to provide support for the production and distribution of Pakistani music across the globe.

One such endeavour is the collaborative music project called the ‘True Brew All Stars’ which will feature music composed by and produced with a fluid line-up of musicians spanning multiple genres. No holds barred!

Live at True BrewOur Live at True Brew (LATB) series, held at our own studio, will see a second wave of shows this winter featuring more exciting local and international acts and will have a select number of video releases accompanying it.

We will be frequenting unchartered musical territory with some killer content in the year ahead, more about which shall be revealed in due time.

Sarmad Khoosat, the director of the film, Manto, has been generous and allowed us significant creative freedom in the production and composition of the music. The score is minimal and haunting, the original songs borrowing heavily from traditional melodies and lyrics but steeped in modern production techniques, and the sound design augments the visuals in a manner that makes the entire experience larger than life.

Q) What are your future plans at True Brew Records? Where do you see yourself 5 years from here?

True Brew Records

TBR is here to stay and in the next five years we aim to provide the sort of institutional and infrastructural support to the culture of music that has been absent. We have a wealth of unexplored talent that has no access to guidance or recording facilities, and a nation that is starved for entertainment and music. Our goal is to fill that void and build bridges to allow for the two to interact in the best possible manner.

Q) Any special message to all your fans and music aspirants who want to come into this field?

To aspiring musicians, I have three words; courage, initiative and perseverance.

Courage to pursue the sort of music that is true to one’s own person and not be bogged down by commercial value or current trends. Initiative to take matters into one’s own hand, set up shows, create videos and get your music heard. And persevere, because its not going to be easy!

As for our fans, the music is for you so help us make it, support it and spread it. Sharing, after all, is caring!