There has been a constant debate over how the critically acclaimed city of the dead is actually living up to its name as far as performing arts (mainly music) are concerned. The overall security situation of the country amongst many numerable reasons contributed to this sad state of affairs. But as they say, all hope is not lost for 2010 saw KUCH KHAAS (A community space for discourse, learning, meaningful entertainment and participation in Islamabad) break into the scene. I recently caught up with the KUCH KHAAS program team to discuss their new venture called Open Mic Gig (OMG).
1) For starters, tell a little bit about the program team at KUCH KHAAS and what it actually does.
The Kuch Khaas Program Team has Program Managers, Assistant Program Managers, Interns and extended Kuch Khaas Family Members. There is a whole lot of collaboration between the team on how to execute various ideas into programs such as events or classes/workshops.
2) How much in your view has KUCH KHAAS affected the arts/music scene in the capital?
Islamabad happens to be a place where previously being self-taught was the norm for most artists and musicians. Kuch Khaas hopes to have instructors who now can impart their knowledge and skill to eager learners. These learners have a relationship with their Instructors and Kuch Khaas, which later becomes a source of confidence for them to show their talent in events such as OMG.
3) You people have various music courses going on, tell a little about them.
We have previously hosted classes and workshops by Singing Instructors, Natasha Ejaz and Ahmed Ali.
Our ongoing classes include:
“Singing Success” instructed by Shahbaz Zaidi which has been one of our longest running classes alongside “Guitar Lessons – Beginners and Intermediates” instructed by Syed Salman Haider Zaidi.
“Classical Vocal Training and Tabla Classes” by Ustaad Umeed Ali Khan, student of Barey Ghulam Ali Khan Sahab, while Ustaad Naimat Ali Khan Sahab accompanies him on tabla have been a great source of inspiration for all of us.
We also have “Percussion Training” with Asfendyar Ahmed. Rawal Shadab Ahmad is our instructor for “Basic Keyboard and Piano Lessons”.
A weekly facilitated drum circle conducted by Ammar Latif also takes place at Kuch Khaas, open to anyone who would like to participate and get together to make music, the purpose of this activity is solely recreational.
4) Do you think KUCH KHAAS caters to particular strata of society or is it inherently universal in its approach?
Kuch Khaas does not prescribe to a formulaic approach in building its community. We are here to mobilize not only the youth but also reaching out to adults in order for them to redefine their notions of everyday life in Islamabad. Kuch Khaas is an idea impacting society physically and theoretically.
5) When did you people decide to hold open mic nights and how has the response been thus far?
The Open Mic Night was to ensure a platform for local enthusiasts and musicians, a gathering that is intimate and casual enough for different genres to come together creating a diverse program for the audiences.
Kuch Khaas hoped to bring together acoustic playing singers, solo acts and local bands. To balance out the night we now ask for submissions a week before the event. These processes lead us to rename the Open Mic Night to Oh My Gig! Or OMG as Kuch Khaas manages the entire program. This does not in any way shape or form mean we dismiss or undermine some talent over the other.
The program each time leads to new realizations for the next OMG. As the Kuch Khaas Team we want to set out an example for local youth to come out and perform not because OMG is an official musical gig but a night to celebrate local talent.
6) A lot of noteworthy musicians have played at this venue; do you think it’s slowly becoming the GEN-Y Civil Junction?
Absolutely not, Kuch Khaas is not catering to solely musicians but multitalented individuals, who have potential and want to perform.
7) Are there any facilities/programs except the Open Mic Gig platform to facilitate budding musicians at KUCH KHAAS?
We now have started Karaoke Nights for those who might just want to sing out loud to their favorite tunes in a relaxed and informal environment. It is not about OMG the event but about the people who go through the experience with us.
8) Why did the chicken cross the road?
To go to Kuch Khaas.
9) Do you people plan on expanding further, if yes, then what avenues are you people looking to explore?
We have an extensive video library in the making of all our previous programs and events. We hope that having an archival process will enable Kuch Khaas to go a step further in delivering constructive dialog beyond its four walls.
10) Any final words of wisdom, messages, dedications or statements?
Kuch Khaas is now coming to a full circle with the completion of its first year in May. A place open to youth and adults alike, bringing forth opportunity and support for a more engaging Islamabad.
Photo credits: Zeeshan Jamal/Kuch Khaas