In conversation with Brainfeed, Pakistani artist Muhammad Effendi opens up about his love for playing American Hip Hop on sitar and more.
Q: Kindly brief us about your musical quest.
My father Munawar Sadiq introduced me to music when I was 6 years old. At my school in Lahore, I was bullied and mocked because of playing Sitar since it is considered backdated and a taboo for boys playing it. Even in my family, it is only my father who has learnt music through sheer determination and going against his family. At 14, I won the gold medal for All Pakistan Music Conference. I’ve been a part of Nescafe Basement Season 4 and 5. I’m running my own YouTube channel (Typical Musician) where I upload sitar covers on western music. I am true to my art. Each musical renditions of mine is replete with genuine feelings.
Q: You have beautifully captured western classics in your sitar. . .
I have been criticised for playing western music on sitar. However, to me, music is an extension of my soul which spiritually connects me to God. Growing up, I had dreamt of mixing Western and Eastern music. Sitar has perhaps not received the spotlight like guitar or violin has! As one of the few young sitar players, I want to place sitar in the mainstream culture. It’s a false conviction that sitar is solely for classical music. Music is evolving, and through my extensive jam sessions, I want people to seek sitar.
Q: Please tell us about some of the interesting jam covers by you.
I had my first international cultural expo tour to China in 2017. The journey allowed me the opportunity to learn and play diverse cultural songs. Some of the most daring covers I have improvised on sitar are Hotel California by Eagles, Bella Ciao, Breathless by Shankar Mahadevan, and Hip Hop rap songs by American late rapper Juice Wrld and xxxtentacion. Now, this is a totally different genre of rap music but once you catch the feel, you have a huge canvas to draw on. Being an artist, I always search for new opportunities to learn and grow.
Q: Who are your idols?
I have grown up listening to Ustad Vilayat Hussain khan and Pandit Ravi Shankar.
Q: Are you providing online tutorial?
Yes, my online classes can be accessed through social media channels. I am on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Interested learners can join the classes for a 3 months’ course for extensive learning through live video sessions.