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Beyond borders

It was deja vu for Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia, the duo otherwise known as Strings. Peeved by the shower that resulted in their show with Parikrama and Saif Ali Kha being scrapped, Friday reminded them of a 2007 show in Calcutta that was cancelled due to the rain.

The duo chatted with t2 before breaking into a quick jam with music director Debajyoti Mishra, who had been invited by Bilal to rehearse his violin lines for Duur — a surprise for the show. (Mishra met Bilal during a trip to Pakistan last year to score the music for Mehreen Jabbar’s film Ramchand Pakistani. Bilal’s father Anwar had written the lyrics for the film). Excerpts...

the concert...

Faisal: I was telling Bilal on our way that I really like Calcutta when it’s raining. Can’t believe it’s really happening!

Bilal: The last time we were here on an eight-city tour, all the concerts went off well except the one in Calcutta — because it rained. I think we bring the rains! We’ve broken the jinx in Bangalore but Calcutta remains!

Faisal: We had great shows in Bangalore and Mumbai. Three totally different artistes — Parikrama with their rock sound, us with Hindi pop and Saif’s persona and his Bollywood appeal seemed to work really well with the crowd.

Their new album...

Faisal: We’ll be releasing our new album Dhoop by April.

Bilal: This is our fifth album and we’ve definitely taken a step forward. Lately, we’ve been branded as a band with ‘slow and dark numbers’. We wanted to break out of that mould and do livelier stuff, in keeping with the Strings sound. Dhoop is a younger and happier sounding album.

Their sound, music and lyrics...

Bilal: We score the music first and then my father writes the lyrics. He’s a well-known writer in Pakistan and has written all the songs for our albums. The best thing about his work is that he’s also a painter, which is reflected in his poetry.

Faisal: When working on a song, we tell him the mood, theme or person we have in mind. He translates these into words. We brainstorm and jam on the songs with him. And he comes up with the lines within minutes!

Bilal: We’ve tried out other lyricists but there’s a lack of chemistry and we really don’t feel motivated. He knows our psyche and is an important part of our band. That apart, guitars drive Strings: a guitar provides a lot of energy while creating a song.

Bollywood projects..

Bilal: After singing for Zinda and Shootout at Lokhandwala, we got loads of offers, which we couldn’t take up because of our new album. Strings is more of a touring band than a studio band. If some interesting Bollywood project comes up, we might break our routine, but the stage is more important.

Faisal: While travelling we pick up new things from different musicians and try to incorporate those. Since we’re a live band, we try to do something new with each song. We’d love to record a live album someday.

Bilal: We’re in India for concerts at least twice a month.

Faisal: I loved the music from Raincoat and was excited about meeting Debuda (Debajyoti) this time.

Bilal: It’s a pity that not many Indian bands are doing the kind of Hindi pop that Euphoria and Silk Route did in the 90s.

On music in Pakistan

Faisal: Currently, pop music is big in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the new breed aren’t into ghazals.

Bilal: Bollywood tracks are totally in. Not Pakistani film music. But with new directors like Mehreen Jabbar and Shoaib Mansoor coming in, we’re hoping for a revival of Pakistani cinema and its music.

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