Interview: Jaubi

We’re huge fans of Lahore-based ensemble Jaubi, here at Twistedsoul and we’re super excited that their debut album ‘Nafs at Peace’ will finally arrive in a few weeks via Astigmatic Records. What started off as a one-off project back in 2016 with the release of The Deconstructed Ego (EP) has blossomed into the forthcoming full-length. It’s been a long journey for the band but having listened to the LP, believe us when we say that ‘Nafs at Peace’ has been well worth the wait.

Across the album, Jaubi stitches together elements of North Indian classical music, with hip-hop and modal/spiritual jazz. They are joined on the seven-track trip by Tenderlonious, Latarnik and The Vox Humana Chamber Choir.

The aim of the band was to show a different side not only to themselves but also to show the artistic and spiritual beauty within the Qur’an, whose spiritual verses became the inspiration for the album concept. By collaborating with musicians from other genres and cultures, something universal was created. God was found through the musical notes, not in the musicians or any other materialistic realm.

With their debut album dropping on the 28th of May, we get a taste with the gorgeous ‘Raga Gurji Todi’ and talk to the band to get the low-down on all things Jaubi.

We’ve been longtime Jaubi fans, but we’d love to know the story of how you met and why you started playing music together?

JAUBI began back in 2013 in Lahore, Pakistan. I wanted to record some of my own solo guitar compositions, and it was recommended to add some other instruments to give a different feel. That’s when Zohaib (sarangi) and Vicky (percussion) came to my house to jam. We had great chemistry, and the first song we did in my house was “a war with my ego.” That home demo (which I still have) was beautiful & raw & I knew that was the start of something special.

You seem to have taken your time with your debut album, and it’s certainly worth the wait. How does it feel now that it’s finally ready?

JAUBI was really just meant to be a one-off project but I had so much fun and chemistry playing with the other guys that every time we would meet we would jam and record material. We decided to take our time releasing an album because we wanted to do it properly. We wanted to develop a following first, and then back in 2019, a great opportunity came to record with other exceptional artists, which eventually lead to our debut album. It is a big relief that our debut album is finally done. The sound of this album (Nafs At Peace) is completely different to any of our previously released material. Each song has a different vibe to it, and it’s great to showcase different sub-genres within our collaborations on the album.

Was the album recorded during the pandemic? If so, do you feel that the pandemic had any impact or influence on the album?

The album was recorded back in 2019 pre-covid. The first recording session was in Lahore, Pakistan in April 2019 and the second recording session was in Oslo, Norway in August 2019. The pandemic did not, therefore, impact on recording the album; however, it definitely did impact on the release date. We decided to push the album back to this year because of the pandemic.

Are there any themes that run through Nafs at Peace?

The main musical theme in this album is strong melodies. As Quincy Jones says, “melody is God’s voice”. Along with the melodies is great improvisation by all the musicians. In terms of actual thematic concepts, when we were recording this album, we did not focus on anything except the music. We didn’t know what the songs were going to be called. The actual concept for the album didn’t come into place until probably 12 months later when the music was mixed and mastered.

Can you talk us through Nafs at Peace; and how your sound has evolved compared to The Deconstructed Ego (EP)?

Nafs At Peace sonically is a new direction for us. On this album, we incorporate new instruments to our sound such as the electric guitar, Fender Rhodes, Drums, Piano, Saxophone and Flute. We also worked with a full choir in Oslo, Norway, which was a lovely experience. The Deconstructed Ego was purely acoustic, and only the 4 of us were involved. Those two projects are at two polar opposites from one another and signify our new direction.

When building the tracks for the LP, did you have a particular technique or starting point?

Yes. Each song is based around a musical idea which originated whilst exploring certain musical scales or Ragas. The focus was to create a strong melody using those particular musical notes. Other times we would select a certain rhythmic cycle (taala) and use that as the Genesis for everything. Nothing was written down during the recording sessions. It was a very organic process.

Your music draws on many varied resources and influences; tell us how you bring your ideas together? Also, do you all have similar musical tastes?

We don’t have similar musical tastes; however, the thing that brings us together is strong melodies. In terms of bringing the ideas together, it’s an informal process. We would be exploring a musical scale/Raga and develop a short Melody. We would then use that melody to improvise a complete song. Once the melody is done, then it’s just a matter of improvising.

You’ve worked with some serious talent like Tenderlonious, Marek Latarnik Pędziwiatr. Can you tell us how you came to collaborate and did it take some time for the music to grow?

Credit goes to Lukasz Wojciechowski from Astigmatic Records. He is the logistical mastermind and the one that brought all of us together. My understanding is that 22a records were intending to go to India to record a Raga based album. They then had discussions with Lukasz, who suggested our name, and they come and visit us in Lahore, Pakistan. It did not really take that long for the music to grow. It was initially difficult because of a language barrier; however, when we all respectively picked up our instruments, the cliche that music is a universal language definitely applied. Also, when you collaborate with artists of that calibre, it becomes scary but enjoyable to learn from each other and explore new musical ideas.

Tell us about what’s happening for you for the rest of 2021?

Our album Nafs At Peace will be released on the 28th of May 2021. The melodies for the 8 songs on the next JAUBI album are already done, and new musical territory has been explored (e.g. Tritone scale, Harmonic Major, Phrygian natural 6th, etc.).

We just all need to meet and record it in the studio. The concept for the next album is exploring the spiritual heart (Qalb) inspired by Quranic passages. The next stage of purification after Nafs is the Qalb, so the progression makes sense.

Hopefully, there will also be some more collaborations. Inshallah…

Pre-order Nafs at Peace HERE.

CF Smith

Write for Music Is My Sanctuary & Stereofox.

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