Having more than 16 year experience of accumulate knowledge in musical theory, commands extensive production and sound engineering, Jamal Rehman is a self taught musician. Graduated from Chelsea College of Arts & Design and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, Jamal's vision to create a platform where musicians could craft and create melodies of their own unique interpretation led him to conceptualize True Brew Records in September 2009 and finally his comes true in December 2010. He has also been involved in the administration and execution of numerous concerts, shows and musical performances of varying scale and scope. His music influence ranges from radio head, cinematic orchestra, Pathanay Khan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Gorillaz, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Polar Bear, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Dave Brubeck and many more. In his capacity as a Producer at True Brew Records, Jamal has worked with famous Pakistani artists such as Zeb & Haniya, Jimmy Khan, Malang Party, Club Caramel, Sibti, Ali Sethi, Rakae Jamil, Poor Rich Boy, Shehzad Noor and Ali Baqar. Jamal has also worked with renowned Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid on the audio book of the critically acclaimed novel, How to get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia.
Jamal’s latest project is an initiative titled True Brew All Stars where he will be collaborating with other musicians to compose and perform uniquely original pieces of music. He is also currently involved in the composition of the original musical score, original songs and sound design for Sarmad Khoosat’s feature film Manto. In an interview with Jamal Rehman he shared his view about Pakistani music industry, True Brew records and all enjoys in between. Here are the excerpts of the interview:
Q: In your opinion as an industry expert, what factors are currently restricting the growth of the Pakistani Music Industry?
There is a distinct lack of institutional support. In order for music to thrive, there needs to be more venues where live music performances can be put up. The government needs to lift current obstacles such as the damaging entertainment tax and a need for an NOC and in fact, ought to put subsidies in place so that more people are encouraged to support music. The other major contributor is the lack of technical training when it comes to music production (live or in the studio). We could do very well by introducing music and audio engineering technical courses at the school and university level.
Q: What steps need to be taken to preserve music / instrumentation that is native to this region?
The best way of promoting native music and instruments is to start formally teaching them to students in primary and secondary schools within the country.
Q: Pakistan is blessed with tremendous musical talent. In your opinion, what is the best way to bring this talent to the fore?
Our new and existing talent needs support across the board, from funding opportunities for recording and distributing their music to being given more platforms for performance. There needs to be a concerted effort through which a higher frequency of releases are put out all year round.
Q: While pop, Bollywood and classical music have an established audience here locally, do you feel that other genres such as acapella, blues, R&B, etc. will ever find an audience in Pakistan?
Music in Pakistan already has a diverse range of influences. The question about finding audiences is a more important one due to the gaping hole in the distribution of music. The main form of access musicians currently have to their audiences is through the internet and it is difficult to have your material stand out in a saturated online marketplace. TV and radio is rife with Bollywood material and channels are not interested in supporting local music. The relationship between the musician and the consumer needs to be bridged so that audiences may have more material to choose from and develop more discerning tastes.
Q: Pakistan has numerous well known musicians, but few well known music producers. Why do you feel this is so?
There is little understanding about the role of a music producer. People are not aware of the contribution of one to a record. One of the reasons for this is a lack of such jobs in the market and an absence of technical courses that teach production. If the music industry picks up and more jobs are created in production, more musicians would be inclined to become producers.
Q: Are concerts the only way for corporate entities to support the music industry? What other ways do you feel that the private sector could assist in the growth of the music industry?
Aside from giving performance opportunities, corporate entities can help support music in a number of ways. They can help by providing funding for recording and production, and also use their marketing muscle to help in the distribution of new music. Another step in the right direction would be to establish more public spaces where music can be nurtured.
Q: While True Brew Records does showcase live performances through its Live at True Brew platform, will music event management ever be a full-fledged service that True Brew will provide?
We already assist bands in finding performance opportunities, some of which we create ourselves. We expect to have a notable increase in live performances this year.
Q: Tell us about Storm in a Teacup. Is this your attempt to replicate a Woodstock stylized music festival here in Pakistan?
Zain (Peerzada) and I had been thinking about putting together a festival for a while. We had discussed various opportunities but were waiting for the right time. Things have a way of working out for the best and we were able to realise that idea. This was just the start and we intend to have our festival concept grow and evolve. But to compare it to Woodstock would be a little unfair at this point.
Q: What was the selection / registration criteria for bands performing at Storm in a Teacup?
As with most labels, True Brew Records has a particular aesthetic which we support and promote. The bands in our festival lineup are selected with this criteria in mind. Musicianship, dedication and initiative are some of the other contributing factors to our selection.
Q: What new projects do you have in the pipeline for True Brew Records?
We’re currently working on the music for a film based on Manto and his life. Additionally, ‘True Brew All Stars’ is a collaborative music project that features a fluid lineup of musicians. We’ll be releasing the first single from the project with a music video very soon. Also, we have amassed an archive of videos from our Live at True Brew concert series which we will be releasing regularly.
Published in The Nation newspaper on 09-Feb-2014