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Up-and-coming Pakistani Indie musicians you should be listening to

Hassan Raheem, Mannu and Rozeo. Photo: Twitter/Mosiki/Facebook

The Pakistani indie music scene is not a new avenue, but it is a shorthanded one. In a country dominated by old-school music pioneers, newer Indie artists have become part of an increasing chunk of the music scene. The official release of Spotify Pakistan in the country has made music more accessible.

Maanu – Hailing from Lahore, Rehman Afshar aka Maanu is the one name that’s going to be strewed across everyone’s Pakistani’s Spotify wrapped come new years. At a whopping 42K monthly listeners, this recent LUMS graduate has garnered a huge fan following, and with good reason. Inspired by a lot of Indie artists, Maanu’s music veers in that direction but doesn’t box itself in one category. His most popular single, Melancholic, is genre bending as it ventures into pop, downtempo and EDM mixed into bilingual vocals, ultimately presenting itself as the evocative masterpiece it truly is. He released his debut album ‘Yain City’ in 2020 and recently teamed up with Talal Qureshi and Zahra Paracha for his new single, ‘Kidhar?’ that exhibits a really fresh take by the artist on his music.

Hasan Raheem – Originally from Gilgit, Hasan is a doctor by day and a prominent musician by night. Featuring a mix of indie-pop, R&B and soul, the artist has released several singles and collaborations in the past two years whilst studying for his medicine degree, which is a commendable feat. Raking over 150K monthly listeners on spotify, the young talent is on an upward trend. His most popular release, Aisay Kaisay, has a fun upbeat lo-fi vibe with an incredibly addictive recurring electronic beat that just makes it a really peppy and vibe-y number. No doubt the artist has an inclination for music, and rightly so. The singer was also awarded the PISA Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award for 2020.  

Rozeo – Fresh on the Lahore rap scene, Rizzy Rozeo is on a creative surge as he keeps releasing fun rap singles that always have a fresh angle. Inspired by artists like Eminem, Kanye and Kendrick Lamar, he draws on western pop culture influences and blends them with a quirky desi twist. One of his funnier tracks, ‘Bum Twirl’ has an incredibly groovy electronic beat that extends to a playful flirtatious vibe. But in tracks like Fittay Mu (part of his upcoming EP), he stays culturally relevant and retains the wit in his lyrical diversity. There’s no question that the Lahore rap scene has been accumulating dust when compared to Karachi, but new artists like Rozeo are redefining the territory and making it their own.

Towers – “The three boys who built towers from a damp Karachi basement.” It was just recently that their song Filhaal was playing endlessly across radios and almost everyone’s Instagram story. This groovy ambient single by the band has been one of their best releases that one can’t get enough of. This up-and-coming group features Bilal Baloch on guitar and electronics, Changez Basir on bass and percussions, and Ashir Bhatti. Towers seem to be very intimate in their song-writing and production process, something that has certainly helped them in garnering a quick following. While their body of work isn’t big at the moment, we can certainly expect them to make it huge in the near future.

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