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Sizzle in Chan kithan

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Ali Sethi

That’s the first time I’ve heard the term Punjabi gothic generally and specifically in this song signifying Seraiki lyrics with urban longing. Please elaborate.

Ali: One meaning of gothic is “portentously gloomy” or brooding. In that sense, the lyrics are totally gothic: they describe an intense longing steeped in suspicion and mistrust of the beloved. Also, in the video we’ve portrayed the heroine’s black abaya as a kind of ball gown, which trails after her in this half-gloomy, half-glamorous way. All rather gothic!

Did you compose the music as well as write the lyrics? Take us through the process.

Yes, I composed the music with my longtime collaborator and producer Saad Sultan. The lyrics are taken from older folk renditions of the song. The video was directed by Mooroo.

What does the “Chan” symbolise in the song apart obviously from the moon and a beloved?

It’s a term of endearment. But obviously the strongest symbolism is that of an elusive moon that rarely appears. The whole mood of the refrain “Where were you all night, my Moon?” is affectionate, but also kind of threatening.

How long does it take you to work on a song?

Sometimes it takes a week. But it can also take up to a year.

What inspired you?

An old recording of this song from the 1950s

Who plays the music on the track?

We had various talented musicians play on this track: Saad Sultan on guitar, Fazal Abbas on dholak, and Akmal Qadri on been.

Seher Tareen

The silhouette of the womenswear in the video is loose and flowing. Is that in keeping with the Punjabi village belle look?

Seher: In our SS17 collection Abstraction, we used strictly South Punjabi craft and embroidery techniques. I wanted to contrast that with an urban contemporary style collection. The loose silhouettes are in fact indicative of the worldwide trend towards “easy fashion.”

Which particular Modernist art work or artist are you referring to or have used as a reference point?

We have incorporated the work of five abstract expressionists from the 20th century: Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Lyubov Popova, Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline.

What type of traditional South Punjabi embroideries are used on the dresses?

We have employed a variety of South Punjab embroideries, such as mirror work, tarkashi and crochet.

Did you design the menswear as well? How does that correspond with the theme?

Studio S doesn’t do menswear. However, Yousaf Shahbaz’s Pollock Pants were custom made for him and he pulled them off like no one else!

“I think the days of East-West fusion are over. The world is an open playground of inspiration”

How did you develop the concept of the attire for the video? Did anyone else have any input as well?

Ali and I had been wanting to do a music/fashion collaboration for a while. The Abstraction collection was already underway when I heard Chan Kithan for the first time. It was completely meant to be, with the folk influence connecting the music with the fashion. I felt it was the perfect collaboration.

What are you expressing through the costumes apart from basic East-West fusion?

I think the days of East-West fusion are over. The world is an open playground of inspiration. My goal with the employing the South Punjab craft in the collection was preserving and updating the heritage of the region. The folk vibe fits seemlessly into the abstract art inspiration of the collection, Abstraction.

Did you contribute towards the makeup, hair and styling in keeping with the outfits. If so, how?It was actually a very organic process. The characters that were featured in the video all came by the studio and looked through the pieces. They had their pick of the collection. It was really important that they make the outfits their own and I think that translates in the video.

“It was a great experience; the music video is haunting and beautiful. And the character I play is a first for me. Without giving too much away, it’s a story about anguished love. Ali’s rendition is lyrical but also quietly dark. I can’t wait for everyone to watch it and pick up on the unusual ways in which we’ve woven this Cinderella story”

—Mira Sethi

Photography: Omer Khalid Butt

Wardrobe: studio S

Styling: Fahad Hussayn

Hair & makeup: Maram & Aabroo

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