Almost everyone I know has heard about Coke Studio. Pakistanis living in the country, or as far away as the outback of Australia have either heard of or know about the music that Coke Studio produces. It’s a diverse fusion of typically ethnic, groovy Western, and locally inspired music, that showcases the awe-inspiring talent of the music industry of Pakistan. From maestros like Saeein Zahoor and Abida Parveen, and classical cult members such as Tina Sani to the pioneers of pop and rock like Ali Azmat and Strings, it is a platform that uses music in order to promote unity and tolerance and instill into Pakistanis a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Coke Studio also serves as an inspiration for many. Some prefer to make home videos parodying the performances (‘Alif Allah home version’ is a classic now!), while others become motivated to finally follow their dreams. One example is Satwa Sessions, a Dubai-based group of professionals who come together with one thing in mind: the enjoyment of music. They are men and women involved in all sectors of the corporate world, who take out the time from their tangled, material lives to jam together. My brother, Jawad Sakrani, happens to be one of the vocalists part of this eclectic group.
He’s been singing for as long as I can remember, whether its covers of Vital Signs and Junoon or original stuff. He’s also been playing the guitar for many years, both acoustic and electric, and has also learned how to play the harmonium recently. He is a music buff and it’s been a regret of his that he could never get completely involved in it, but now he’s found a way to give in to his passion without overdosing our eardrums at home. Satwa Sessions is unique, it’s where you can go to relax from the otherwise frantic pace of Dubai life without worrying about how you look, how much you earn, what car you drive, etc. You can play any instrument and sing in any language, be it Arabic, Urdu, English or even Swahili. Satwa itself is one of the most non-pretentious neighborhoods in the city; free of dizzyingly tall skyscrapers or gigantic malls, it’s a cul-de-sac reminiscent of the old, more traditional Dubai lifestyle.
Satwa Sessions is more than a month into its inception, and it’s already churned out some great covers, such as Vital Signs’ ‘Tere Liye’. Each session is recorded and the video displays how much harmony is present, it gives off a vibe of camaraderie, a vibe of happiness. And this is precisely what the point of music is, to allow you to escape into a realm of dreams where nothing is impossible.
To listen to some of their stuff, search for ‘Satwa Sessions’, they have a profile on Facebook, and many of their videos are posted on the wall.