Here is a close insight into the Studio as I recently had the chance to interact with Shahana Khan Khalil who happens to be the International Production Manager for this season of Coke Studio playing a major role in the international ride of this mega project. Apart from that she has also been the Assistant BTS Producer and the Editorial Supervisor, all making her a very pivotal person in the upbringing of Season 6.
Hello! Shahana, you have been in the media industry for quite some time. For our readers to know, Please give us a quick recap of your career and things you have been up to in the past?
I’d say it started with Theater in Islamabad. I’d acted in stage productions there, after which I went on to act in Slackistan. In the meantime I also began working as a Radio Jockey for CityFM89 for a few years. While not directly related to the media industry, I began working for Kuch Khaas – Centre for Arts, Culture & Dialogue in Islamabad in 2010 – which for me was an important step in my work experience given that it focuses on the arts scene in Islamabad, it gave me the opportunity to meet and work with some serious talent and create lots of random stuff. I then went on to study Filmmaking in Cape Town, South Africa following which Coke Studio happened.
You were recently associated with Coke Studio Season 6, playing a major role especially in its journey across the continents. How was the general experience of being on the sets of country’s premium show?
It’s hard to say. It’s been a real learning and I’m extremely grateful to be here and to be working with the people that put the show together. I feel fortunate to be working with and directly learning from Rohail. While the show may have evolved for everyone else as a process, this was my first time and I guess Fate would have it that I’d be a part of the first step towards an international Coke Studio. Amongst the many things I could name, one of the things that has been really rewarding was to actually meet with the musicians in the various countries, work with all the different crews and experience the music as it happened. It’s a wonderful gift.
There are some really big names on board for Season 6. How was it interacting professionally with the top notch personalities of our music industry?
Each person I’ve had the pleasure of meeting this Season has been an insightful experience altogether. Talent aside, they’re also exceptionally hard workers and a lot of my own perceptions about both music and people have changed in the process. Each brings his or her own story, which is always inspiring to experience and learn from. It is safe to say that I think we as a people have so much to offer to the world.
Coke Studio is crossing borders this time around in the form of International collaborations, which is perhaps the most anticipated thing about this season. Share with us something about this new concept?
Well I think the next natural step for Coke Studio was to connect with music outside the country. The experiment really has been an attempt to see how music does come together across time and distance while sharing a bit of what we’ve inherited with the rest of the world and hoping it resonates. While there are deeper layers within the concept, I think it’s also a step to mutually share music. It connects a lot more than what we see on the surface.
Any interesting personal experiences from this season?
Getting lost on a bicycle with a flat tire in Rome. Discovering Pashto words being spoken by the Serbian. Hearing the Turks talk about how they know how to sing ‘Jeevay Pakistan’. Feeling a sense of pride hearing that everyone abroad knows who Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is. Interviewing Saeen Zahoor irrespective of a language barrier. There’s so much.
Tell us about your favourite tracks from the past 5 seasons of Coke Studio?
The Noori songs in general – Aik Alif, Saari Raat. Tou Kya Hua by Bilal Khan. Kangana by Fareed Ayaz & Abu Muhammad. Ith Naheen by Sanam Marvi. Rabba Sacheya by Atif Aslam. There’s lots more. I actually didn’t follow the show as much before this, I’ve started to now listen to previous seasons in a way I hadn’t before.
Which artists are you really looking forward to hear from this year of Coke Studio and why?
I know this might sound biased and cliched but I’m actually looking forward to all of the songs. I’m quite excited because I’m curious about what the artists and musicians are going to think about the songs they’re a part of. I don’t think Coke Studio has ever sounded like this so I guess we’ll just wait and see.
In what way do you think Coke Studio has added value to your own profile?
It has taught me a lot professionally, sure, but its also really exposed me to a lot of deeper philosophies that I think have added value to my understanding of how and why we pursue things or how we express ourselves. I know it sounds funny, but it has also been quite the psychological if not spiritual insight.
Any interesting upcoming projects lined-up at your own end apart from Coke Studio?
At this point I’m not sure. I’m taking it one step at a time and enjoying the ride. I’ve got plans, sure, but I’ll let them happen when they do.
Thank you very much Shahana for taking out time and sharing your experiences from Coke Studio. Wish you and your whole team all the very best of luck.