The Valle of Kashmir is famous all over the world because of its beautiful mountainous landscape wrapped with unique culture, tradition and mostly, for it’s deeply interwoven Sufi Culture. Sufism has a great impact on Kashmir and is integral to KASHMIRIYAT.
Jammu and Kashmir is steeped in Sufi ethos, Sufi shrines, and music. There are a lot of old poets and Sufi singers whose Sufi poetry and music style has snatched hearts of people from all over the world.
But as they say, change is mandatory and every society grows through change. Rock music appeals to this current generation a lot more than classical Sufi folk.
Well, cannot stop quoting Vera Nazarian here:
“If Music is a Place — then Jazz is the City, Folk is the Wilderness, Rock is the Road, Classical is a Temple.”
Contrary to the popular perception of the stone pelting Kashmiri youth are in fact dishing out hard rock. From traditional Sufi songs to Sufi rock, how perceptions of decade change over time and how the musical ideas from a given era filter through to later generations– here are some of our favourite bands from the valley.
It’s time for some rock and roll revolution in the Chinar valley.
“There have been very renowned singers and poets who have written Sufi songs. But today’s youth listens to Rock. So we take the same Sufi lyrics and remix it with rock music and make a fusion genre called Sufi rock”, musician, BLOOD ROCKZ BAND.
A pioneer of the Sufi genre moment was formed back in 2005, by guitarist Adnan Muhammad who is the only constant member of the band. Adnan’s band reached national fame and was ranked no 1 in the battle of band in Kashmir.
Bloodrockz has also started an academy called Band Inn, where now they teach young and then eventually group them into a band.
Sufi rock music has created a powerful impact across Kashmir and this new genre of mixing Sufi lyrics with rock music has become popular among the new generation of the Valley.
“Our music is our expression, our voice, we speak through our songs“, Ubaid, 23, lead vocalist and guitarist, POETIC JUSTICE.
Formed in 2004-05 by three friends – Mir Ubaid, Anees Amin and Azhar Hafiz, this band has come up in this league of growing rock culture. The band has been composing songs in English, Urdu and in Kashmiri. It has since grown with new members coming in.
Through Sufi Rock, they aim to not only revive the love for Sufiyana music and entertain people with the new trend but also channel the youths’ energy towards something more peaceful.
“Our genre is Sufi-rock and alternative rock. When we first performed punk rock, people merely stared at us with blank faces. We blended our music with Sufi poetry. Since then there has been no looking back“, says Mattoo Asif, drummer, TALES OF BLOOD.
These youngsters do not see themselves as rebels. Music is their passion and also an escape.
Starting out, these aspiring musicians had to learn by observation and had to be their own teachers.
“The more you absorb music, the more you express”, said Mohammad Muneem, lead vocalist and songwriter of the Pune-based band HIGHWAY-61.
Mohammad Muneem is Kashmiri born and has quite a following. Muneem’s fusion of Kashmiri and contemporary instruments have been featured on Coke Studio, Kappa TV and several festivals across the country. He sings about Kashmiri rearranged folklore, political churnings and the trail of destruction the two decade-long conflicts has left on the state.
Members believe in experimentation, which may or may not fall into any specific genre.
“With influences of Nusratji, Fuzon, Kailash kher & Junoon we have that Extra edge of versatility of sub-geners and entertaining music lovers of all ages. Moreover we also are into Kashmiri Sufi Rock which is the unique of all the genres”, is the USP of ROOOH, the Sufi Rock band.
Rahul, Ashis, Shivaji, Ramesh wants to be the best Sufi rock fusion band in India and World!
Since music has changed with time, the Kashmiri youths, adapting to the transient times, have got themselves involved in this new trend of Sufi rock bands.
“It stuck with us, we did three songs in Kashmiri. It was never intentional that we wanted to do Kashmiri. It just came to us naturally”, Lead vocalist Khalid Ahamed, PARVAAZ.
A Bengaluru-based band with a lead vocalist from the Valley has produced songs that struck a chord with audiences all over the country. ‘Behosh’, the band’s first extended play that featured a song in Kashmiri was a happy coincidence of the band. There’s no looking back since then. They’ve created renditions of Kashmiri folk tales and poems blended with Western percussion instruments.
With this, they aim to revive all kinds of musical activities, including sufiyana music, and entertain people with the new trend.
“You can be as sanskaari as you want, but today’s audience needs something different. Through this, we are trying to keep Sufi music relevant,”
There is another face of Kashmir that’s the one that frowns at all that the youth represents. We also had our first all-girl Kashmiri rock band which became a Victim of mindset, PRAGAASH.
The bands are drawing lots of attention, not just to themselves, but also to the Valley.
You’re probably streaming through music in your headphones at work right now. Since music is such a big part of our lives, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you this updated list of rock bands from our very own Kashmir. The power of music is undeniable. Every short piece of happy or sad music will lift our spirits, connect us and make us one.
Let the music will flow.