Bands Rock Kashmir Valley

Bands Rock Kashmir Valley

23 January 2013
Times of India
Anukriti Agarwal

New Delhi: From pelting stones to belting out hard rock, Kashmiri youth have brought the strife-torn Valley alive with the sound of music. Local musicians claim there are about 35 bands currently playing popular music of different genres, with some performing in other states as well. Bloodrockz, Dying Breed, Tales of Blood, Sign, Curse and The Sueen are a few among the many bands who have proved their mettle amongst audiences. Ranging from punk-rock, hard rock, progressive, alternative to metal rock, these bands have experimented with a variety of genres. Kashmir now also has its first girl band, Pragash. Made up of three Class X students, the band won the third spot last year at the annual Battle of the Bands competition in Srinagar. They had to face criticism too but they deal with it. 'L adkiyan hain to kya hua, aage badhne ka haq unhe bhi hai.' (What if they are girls, even they have the right to move ahead), says a supportive Asif of the band Bloodrockz, mentors for Pragash. Bloodrockz have performed nearly all over India, but missed an opportunity to play in the US back in 2010, following unrest in the state. 'We got an opportunity to perform in America back then but the condition here worsened due to which we had to cancel our trip,' says Adnan Mattoo, the lead guitarist of Bloodrockz, a seven-year-old band. His primary inspiration, says Mattoo, was the Pakistani band, Jal. 'I thought if these people can learn music and form a band in Pakistan, why can't we do the same here in Kashmir,' he says. However, the two years of relative peace that followed the violence of 2010 have been conducive for the growth of music in the Valley.'Music for me is breaking free from the norms of the society. Rock music, in every sense, is about rebellion,' says Muiz Miraj, band member of Dying Breed that also plays psychedelic rock and blues. One of the most popular music genres in Kashmir is Sufi rock. 'When we first performed punk rock, people merely stared at us with blank faces. We blended our music with Sufi poetry. Since then there has been no looking back', says Mattoo. Asif, the drummer of Tales of Blood, says,'Our genre is Sufi-rock and alternative rock. We also tried playing hard rock.' He further went on to say, 'Our band Tales of Blood originated from the idea of khoon-e dastanas we sing songs revelling in the glory and stories of Kashmir.' In the early days of their struggle, jam sessions were hampered because of neighbours, not quite attuned to rock music. Says Mattoo, 'The neighbours and landlords would object. We were thrown out of various rented rooms since they thought what we played was sheer noise. We had to look for a new place every month or two.' Starting out, these aspiring musicians had to learn by observation and had to be their own teachers. Institutes or teachers who could teach them the kind of music they were interested in were hard to come by in the Valley. 'In my early teens, I was inspired to play guitar but the dilemma was that I could not find any academy that taught music. I had to learn the nuances on my own', says Mattoo. However, they're making sure that isn't the case for generations to come. Bloodrockz has started an academy called Band Inn, where now they teach young and then eventually group them into a band. They do not want their students to face the same difficulties of learning music as them.