Introducing the prodigious Abdullah Siddiqui
Instep talks to the 18-year-old behind ‘Resistance’ – a track that blew up on Nescafe Basement 5 – with the studio version up for a Lux Style Award 2019.
By Maheen Sabeeh
The word prodigy is not an overstatement when it comes to 18-year-old Abdullah Siddiqui. He has worked with Forever South, the independent music label co-founded by Bilal Nasir Khan (Rudoh) and Haamid Rahim (Dynoman); he’s also appeared on True Brew TV, which is produced by Jamal Rahman, on two occasions. Stunning the Nescafe Basement audience, people within industry ranks and more with his band version of ‘Resistance’ when introduced to a larger audience, Abdullah Siddiqui didn’t disappoint.
Speaking to Instep, the Lahore-based singer-songwriter, electronic artist and more, explains that he’s been making music for close to a decade.
Soft-spoken on the phone, Abdullah entered music at a young age. “I’ve always been a singer; I’ve been playing the guitar when I was 9 years old,” he reveals.
At the age of 10, Abdullah got his first computer and started making “digital” electronic music. “I kept practising and creating more material for several years. Towards the end of 2014, when I was 14 years old, I had amassed a lot of material. It felt like I was not doing anything with it so I decided to release it. I made a Facebook, SoundCloud and YouTube page.”
Abdullah released a few songs, he says, and got traction. “People were listening and I auditioned for the second edition of Lahore Music Meet.”
Given his dedication, Abdullah passed the audition and performed a half-hour set that opened doors for him.
“Industry people were in attendance like Forever South (FXS), True Brew Records, different institutions and artists.”
Abdullah decided to sign with FXS and put out a few singles with them. He collaborated with some FXS artists.
“I released ‘Fiction’ and performed for a second time at the Lahore Music Meet in 2017 and that whole year I did True Brew TV – two songs – and I started performing. I collaborated with a lot of people and in 2018 I released ‘Resistance’.”
As Abdullah tells Instep, Nescafe Basement producer Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan aka Xulfi called him in and it was recorded in December of last year.
The song, ‘Resistance’ – the Nescafe Basement version – released in 2019 amassed millions of views and for an 18-year-old accustomed to making music in his bedroom – it was a completely different experience.
Doing the song in a band setup, says Abdullah was definitely a big shift. “Collaborations, I find, are new territories for me because I’ve been making music for 10 years now and all this time, it’s just been me and my computer. Electronic music is not like other most music because in any other style, you have actual instruments that produce sound – live. What makes electronic music different is in the sense that it is controlled by these very specific and elaborate technical parameters that you can’t really recreate onstage.”
Abdullah goes on: “You can but it’s a very complex process and it requires a lot of instruments, expertise. That is what attracted me to Nescafe Basement 5. Because not only is this presentation new for Pakistan, it is new even in global terms. It is not done, even for like global electronic musicians – exclusive electronic artists – but we did ‘Resistance’ 70 to 80 per cent – live.”
Not one to take credit, Abdullah admits that during this time period, he was busy with exams. “I was not as involved in the process of adapting it. It was all Jamal Rahman. He basically had a challenging task of taking the sounds individually and adapt them into live versions and that meant he would have to recreate the sounds because the programs/software I use to make my songs, you can’t play those programs live. It is a tricky thing to do; it was a very ambitious project.”
As for what the song is about, Abdullah says, “The song – what I wrote about – is that your experiences are not universal and the problems you have are self-created issues that are just as a result of lack in perspective.”
Abdullah Siddiqui is a featured artist on a single by Ali Suhail and he has a treasure of music made, including both that he believes the audience is not ready for as well as post ‘Resistance’ music he has been creating. “I found a new sound that is more traditional pop music but also has some experimental elements and I want to put finishing touches and put out an EP by August.”
As for the future, Abdullah creates billboard-esque songs but given time, he has the potential to go places. In the meantime, check out his SoundCloud page for previous singles.
This story was first published in The News International in May 2019