Reviving Live Music In Islamabad - In Conversation with Ali Ashraf

Behind every success, there is a story of struggle, hard work and determination. Similarly, Ali Ashraf is not an exception to this rule. His hard work, determination and struggle to become a musician finally paid off when he successfully released his debut album, Paheli. But his dreams are huge and spirits sky high.

Ali Ashraf is a Pakistani Musician

We sat down with the man himself and talked about his story, future plans and his efforts to revive the forgone live music culture particularly in Islamabad through his own record label, Echo Records. Here’s the conversation we had with the man, Ali Ashraf.
You can listen to his amazing debut album here.

Q. You bear such a unique combination like being a law student, ad maker, film maker and a singer. How did all this work out for you?

When I was studying Law, I released my first song and shoot the video of it and since then, I started taking interest in music and it just happened actually. I applied for ad making course right after my graduation in the UK because in Pakistan sadly, there were no institutions at that time who offered these courses. Then, I did my masters in Film Making and in the mean time I worked at KFC and “Toys R Us!” like all Pakistanis there.

Q. You are trying to revive the Live Music Culture in Islamabad through Echo Records. How are you going to do that?
Of course, we are trying to do that. We are approaching the underground bands and with them we arrange small gigs in different Cafes where people come for food and also get to enjoy live music. We arrange RockNite(s) for the people of Islamabad to watch the underground music talent of the city.

Q. Considering the dull and lax behavior of Islamabad people, do you think live music culture can be revived there?
When we did the first gig, frankly the response was not up to the expectations. People did not show up and it was disheartening. But, when we posted the video of it on Facebook and other platforms, the response was amazing. People started inquiring about the next shows and different Cafe owners started approaching us to do live shows in their cafes and we are slowly getting the results we wanted.

Q. What are the future plans for Echo Records?
We have big plans for the future like arranging Music Festivals in the Northern Areas of Pakistan and collaborating with the Local artists, making the videos in documentary form and promoting the brighter & beautiful side of Pakistan. But for now, we are trying to revive the live music scene in Islamabad with the help of Cafes. Then we will move towards the Universities and collaborate with the music societies there and perform for the students with the students. And last but not the least, we will arrange these activities in Malls also like Safa Gold and Centaurus. The main idea of all this activity is to promote the underground music talent and so far we are achieving our goals. We don’t want to be just Islamabad based only. We will spread our mission nationally but all this after managing to create such a setup in Islamabad. We will also try to launch our channel where only Pakistani music would be played.

Q. Islamabad has some big names in Music Industry like Haroon, Umair Jaswal, Uzair Jaswal, Salman Rafique and others. Don’t you think their involvement in your mission will get you results much quicker than you expect?
That’s quite obvious. The fact that these guys you mentioned have immense fame, would definitely get us results much quicker. But, to get them on board we have to pay them a big amount and at the moment we are not capable of that to be honest! If they come voluntarily and I’m sure they will once they get to know about our project, would help us a lot. After all, at the end of the day everyone wants to perform for the people. If they come, we certainly would welcome them. Right now, we are collaborating with the underground bands.

Q. Has media been supporting you guys?
No, and it is quite unfortunate. There was a time when our music industry was at its peak in the late 90s till 2007. But since then, music industry started declining and a major factor of it has been our media. We don’t have music channels and the ones we have, are only playing foreign content. Artists have potential and talent but they don’t get the projection and exposure they deserve. If you visit Taazi or Patari you would find mind blowing Pakistani music there. I would request our media to play our content as well.

Q. Along with reviving live music in Islamabad, are you trying to help young musicians in forms of videos or something else?
Oh! Yes. When we perform we record the videos in HQ and give it to the bands free of cost to post it on their Facebook pages and other platforms which ultimately help them gain popularity and give their talent a new projection. People listen to music but they become your fan when they watch you playing live. And we are helping the bands in this cause as well through Echo Records, the label which I had to create due to the closing of all record labels in the country.

Q. What message would you like to give to young musicians and your fans?
My message to all of them is Just keep creating music. Don’t lose hope and even if you lose hope, do music because great music comes from a broken heart (Laughs). Listen good Pakistani music more than Chittiyan Kalaiyaan like stuff.

We wish you all the best for your plans and we hope that you get to revive the live music culture not only in Islamabad but in whole country.


  1. Great effort! much needed in Islamabad and all across Pakistan. Ali Ashraf's own music at is superb too.

    1. No doubt, his album is phenomenal and I have shared the link to it in the article :)
      Please share the article with more people.

  2. Echo Records are doing such a fine job. All praises to Ali Ashraf.

  3. I have been to their events. He is doing such a fine job in a time when nobody is supporting music, I wish he achieves his goals


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