I feel the pressure every time I look at the keyboard or the harmonium: Sanwal Esakhelvi
Son of Attaullah Esakhelvi, Sanwal Esakhelvi has been into music from a young age and is a new sensation in the world of music.
Drawing inspiration from the likes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Mehdi Hassan and his father, Sanwal is well versed in traditional and folk music. He has been working in the British film industry as a visual effect artist and sound designer.
Sanwal released his debut album Teray Khayal Mein and continues to work on more experimental music. Here’s everything you need to know about the new sensation:
From the perspective of entertainment business almost all of Sanwal’s family members are associated with it. His mother Bazgha Atta was a renowned actor who worked with popular artists such as Nadeem Baig, Babra Sharif and Sultan Rahi in her heyday.
His elder brother Bilawal Esakhelvi is an actor and director in London who is currently directing a short film. His sister Laraib Atta is a visual effects artist who worked on Ex Machina which won an Oscar for best special effects. Surrounded by artists in a household led by one of the greatest folk artists from our part of the country, Sanwal may have found it hard to find a niche for himself.
Sanwal had never wanted to take up music as a profession. While studying for a degree in sound engineering at City University, London, he got a chance to work on a special project. Starting out professionally with film music and drama OSTs, Sanwal instead found his calling with electronic music. Speaking about his career choice Sanwal said there was no pressure at all as getting into music was his conscious choice. “I chose it as I was inspired by my father Attaullah Esakhelvi,” said the musician who recorded Aa Mera Jaani with his father.
Nonetheless, being Attaullah’s son also brings some default weight of expectations. “I feel the pressure every time I look at the keyboard or the harmonium but I don’t think about it,” he maintained, adding, “Sometimes, when I’m performing live, people expect that I will present folk the same way as my father but my vocal texture is different, as is my appearance and even experiences, so I do it my way.”
Coke Studio Debut
Attaullah Esakhelvi and his son sang together in Coke Studio. Attaullah Esakhelvi sang for Coke Studio in the past. The legend’s soft folk voice accompanied by Sanwal’s vocals told the tale of ‘Sab Maya Hai’ for season 10.
James Blake and John Hopkin are two artists who inspire Sanwal with their technique and use of equipment and he closely follows their work. He is of the view that sound effects in Pakistani cinema have a long way to go.
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Among other projects, Sanwal is currently working on the video of a Punjabi folk song shot in London and Barcelona.
I am working with Shuja Haider. It’s called Seasons – and will be live on TV; this is what makes it different. The other one lined up is EDM – electronic music and have given myself three weeks to wind it up and have asked my father to be part of it. I am planning to do a video as well but right now soundtrack is more my concern as it’s my forte. I want to end up doing something that the Pakistani audience also relates to.
By Pakistani audience I mean people from Mianwali, EsaKhel or that part of the world. If I have got a helium sound, the new generation is going to be able to relate to it. This is how I did my Coke Studio.