Mystical Shayari’s latest offering ‘Yeh Duniya’ is what happens when you bring together heartbreak, the loneliness of belonging to a world that can’t seem to make space for you, and well, spunk. So it comes as no surprise when Zulfi, one-half of the two-member band says that they have been inspired by P!nk.
In 2018, before Mystical Shayari was even born, Zulfi penned down ‘Yeh Duniya’ after significant heartbreak. “It was about the philosophy of heartbreak, as much as it was my way of announcing to the world that I choose this life and I yearn to make it happen,” they say. The spunk, KC-J adds, acts as a way to self-heal; it’s a way to put together the broken pieces of your heart together.
While Zulfi had all but forgotten about the song, KC-J found themselves in love with the melody. “It just stayed on with me and I kept playing it on my ukelele,” they say. ‘Yeh Duniya’ is a reference to a world that is keeping people apart, as much as it is a statement about those crisis moments in life where you have to make choices about having to leave a few people you love behind because they are unable to move forward with you.
Musical Shayari, the duo says, was born out of a commitment to each other on this path they have taken.
“We have been friends and have worked together since freshman year of college. Art can reveal the injustices in the world and it helps the world cope with them. We wanted to fight and respond to the world and bring together our talents and love together to do so”.says KC-J
In each other and in their art, they were able to find themselves. Their first song, ‘Ascending’, was about taking the dirt and the anger and making it light, they explain.
Mystical Shayari is supposed to be a force against evil or injustice. “It is a way of communicating that you can be different,” says Zulfi. As two people interested in mystical poetry, albeit of different eras, it seemed only natural that they name themselves ‘Mystical Shayari’. “We follow the Shayari culture of sitting around and sharing poetry. We start our performances with an open mic so in a way, we are also a platform. We are an open band so we have different backing in different shows and cities,” they add.
Coping with hate
For them, the plan was always to return to Pakistan and make music. However, the hate can be heartbreaking. “It just reiterates the fact that the world doesn’t have space for us, the way we want to exist,” says KC-J.
A few weeks ago, the band posted photos of themselves posing at Quaid-e-Azam Monument in Islamabad. The post, however, met with such outrage that the band deleted their Instagram. “There was a concern for our safety recently. Not just ours, but also our collaborators. When we welcome them, their safety is a promise we offer. But, so far, we have been unable to ascertain their safety,” says Zulfi. However, just as much as they are forced to retreat, they look at these instances with a steely resolve to return stronger. “We go back to the drawing board. We plan, re-strategise and sing even louder in closed rooms. We are [an] underground feminist movement in every way,” they add.
Mystical Shayari and its work exists in a space of navigating between good and evil or life and death, says KC-J. “In that battle, we are in the space and time where shaithan is winning, and we have to deal with it and learn to overwhelm that hate with love.”
This hate, they add, is not consistent with the dream of Pakistan – the vision Jinnah had for Pakistan. “We represent the minority they are trying to suppress and we may do that wearing sequins, but no one said that was illegal!”
As difficult as things get, they are nowhere close to quitting. ‘Sure, we think of running away to Nepal sometimes, but we have never questioned the decision to come back. For us, it is not just about the art, it is about the audience. We want to play for those who are denied the room to express,” explains KC.
For them, the hardest part is getting their family and friends to come around.
“It is difficult when our loved ones try to reassert the idea that we need to stop on the heel of such instances. But, we knew it would be difficult. We are still, as a nation, healing from the bruises of the Partition. But, if we weren’t here, doing this, we would never have known that there is so much more than the haters,” they add.
At the moment, as the two recuperate from the anger, they are also waiting to release their third single as well as the music video for their second single, ‘Disco Ran’. Their album, ‘Gulistan’, will most likely hit the stands by the end of the year. And, in the end, they choose to deal with the hate with the same tune of spunk that they choose for their music. “All we have to say to the haters, especially the men, is that we expect you and we eat people like you for breakfast,” says Zulfi.