Our writer, Fatima Humayun shares a personal take on why the artist’s music resonates and speaks to her generation.
The idea for this article came about interestingly, after the recently held Salt Arts concert in Karachi, where both Strings and Shamoon Ismail performed. In an easily 2500 plus crowd, there was a significant number of audience, in their late teens/early 20’s who seemed to be there exclusively for Shamoon. Just as some of the older audience appeared to be there exclusively for Strings.
Shamoon fans knew every lyric, every beat as he played to his gallery, and they sang and swayed right there along with him.
All while a bunch of the rest of audience scratched their heads in wonderment at this utter devotion.
“What is a Shamoon?” someone asked hilariously.
Well. Those who listen to Shamoon know he’s not just a mood. His music is like an articulation of a number of feelings huddled in this mess called life.
Shamoon Ismail, 28 years old, is a bonafide rising pop sensation – singer, song writer and producer with quite a fan following. He’s known for introducing ‘Punjabi Blues’ genre to Pakistan and sings in Urdu and English as well, but the way his Punjabi lyrics hit the heart – that’s what makes his songs anthem-like for his fans.
His music has resurfaced a wave of new music devotion for a section of Pakistani youth who feel represented – their moods and emotions validated.
When I heard his single “Taare” I instantly fell in love with the vibe and the and lyrics. I would liken the experience of listening to his music to a steaming-hot espresso on a cool, breezy day, or a special playlist on a friendless night. It is the sort of music that would play out of sight like a background soundtrack while you course awkwardly through life, looking at the remote city lights – its verses once in a while drawing you with its strong sense of feeling.
Shamoon started making music about a decade ago. His debut single ‘Tuntuna’ is the most famous one which has a fun tune to it. Other singles include ‘Basanti’, ‘Sapne’, ‘Jaan De’, ‘Jawab’, ‘Taare’ and the recently released ‘Rok Le.’ People have connected to these tracks for a number of reasons. The music ‘gets’ them in a way few other contemporary artist’s music does.
Fame really struck Shamoon with his most renowned EP “Cookies” released back in December 2018 which in a week had more than 100,000 views on each video. Cookies has four major hit songs in which “Marijuana” has more than 1.5 million views on YouTube.
He has since released more albums, “Magic” , “Brown Sugar”, “Juice.” Songs like ‘Rati Aya Si Khayal’ and ‘Late Night’ get you through night blues. Songs like ‘Back up plan’ and ‘Bad Girl’ with their tone gets you through the day and then there’s ‘Rung’ with its amazing beats that ‘catch’ you in the feels, every time. His songs are emblematic for every occasion – breakups, happiness, tragedy or longing for your closed ones.
Shamoon’s active social media presence also enables him to connect with his fans. He shares his fan’s stories listening to his songs while they’re on the mountains, beaches, or when they’re in a new country. Some listening to him while cruising or simply while in their beds on rainy nights.
And I suppose that is ultimately what answers “What is a Shamoon?” As his fans realize, the answer to that question, lies with them.