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Strings (Urdu: سٹرنگز‎) are an internationally acclaimed Pakistani pop rock band comprising two members from Karachi, Pakistan. The band was initially formed by four college students, Bilal Maqsood (vocals and guitars), Faisal Kapadia (vocals), Rafiq Wazir Ali (synthesizer) and Kareem Bashir Bhoy (bass guitars) in 1988. In 1992, the quartet disbanded only to make a comeback with two of its members, Bilal and Faisal later in 2000. While the initial band was riding on the new wave of Pakistani pop music, the later formation ushered a new revival in the music industry of Pakistan. The band were signed to a major record label EMI Records and afterwards released their self-titled debut album Strings in 1990. Their initial effort experimenting with synthesized sounds and rhythms was not recognized instantly although their debut album sold 20,000 copies in its first week on sale. After two years, the band released their second album 2 which included their critically acclaimed single "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar", first aired on MTV Asia, led the band to achieve fame worldwide. After the release of their second studio album, the quartet disbanded in order to focus on their studies and careers. But it was only till 2000 when two of the band members, Bilal and Faisal, made a comeback by releasing the band's third album Duur which found renewed success and popularity for them. The band then went on to record and release its fourth album Dhaani in 2003. The album included the single "Najane Kyun" which featured as a soundtrack for the Hollywood film Spider-Man 2, this also led the band to follow the footsteps of Junoon and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and take their act across the border to India only to realize they already were a recognized band in the country as remixes of one of their earliest songs were played in clubs. In 2008, Strings came up with their fifth studio album Koi Aanay Wala Hai which included soundtrack singles "Zinda" and "Aakhri Alvida" from Bollywood movies, Zinda and Shootout at Lokhandwala. The album was a hit in both Pakistan and India having co-produced by Bollywood actor John Abraham. Strings are acclaimed all over the world for their stringed rhythms, their songs are praised not only for being melodious but having a strong poetic sense to them. Penned by Anwar Maqsood, Bilal's father, the lyrics of their songs always carry a deep meaning with them. Anwar has been writing lyrics for the band since its re-formation where as Faisal Kapadia is the lead vocalist for the band, Bilal Maqsood acts as the composer, guitarist and at times does vocals for a few songs. To play live at concerts, both the members have hired Adeel on the lead guitar, Shakir on the bass guitar, Haider on keyboards and Qaiser on drums, an entourage ensemble that travels with them to various international concerts at times. They have sold over 25 million copies worldwide. History: The initial quartet (1988-1992): The late-1980s saw pop music in Pakistan grow in popularity and newer artists began emerged ontothe scene. Shalimar Television Network (STN), the only channel in the country, other than Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV), launched a show titled Music Channel Charts to highlight new talent. In Karachi however, things were shaping up rapidly and people idolising veteran singers like Nazia and Zoheb, Alamgir and Muhammad Ali Shehki were keen to ride the new wave of Pakistani pop music. At the Government College of Commerce & Economics in Karachi, Bilal Maqsood, Faisal Kapadia, Rafiq Wazir Ali and Kareem Bashir Bhoy, four classmates formed a band in 1988. Influenced by Maqsood's father, the well-renowned Anwar Maqsood's pen, the band performed songs using his lyrics. During a performance at their college farewell party, the band decided to name themselves as Strings after the host of the show came up to the quartet and asked them what their band is called in ordet to announce the band's name to perform on stage. By the mid-1990, with help from Mansoor Bukhari, head of EMI Group in Pakistan, the band had come up with a self-titled album Strings under the EMI label. Breakup (1992): In 1992, the band came up with a follow-up album titled 2, released by Shalimar Recording Company. Maqsood realising that the band needed more exposure, advised that a music video to be shot. He himself took charge of the direction of the video for the song, "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar", and handed it to the STN to be aired on their show. The video was played for a minute on the channel in their hour long show and with not many new videos from competing artists, Maqsood's directorial début was an instant success. This decision proved beneficial and "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar" became a nation-wide hit overnight. In its most primitive form, the video and the song created a phenomenon in the local music industry and the band scored hits after another, played shows and enjoyed the lifestyle of the post-1980s pop stars. The hype was short-lived as the quartet decided to disband considering it as a mutual decision amongst all the members. Soon after wards, as the band disappeared from the local pop music scene their video of "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar" aired on MTV Asia and led the band to achieve success and worldwide fame. After disbanding, Maqsood joined an art school and later got himself a job in an advertising agency as the creative director, while Kapadia travelled to the Houston, Texas to continue his business studies. Little is known of the other two members of the band but it is understood they continued their studies as well. The disbanding of the group came as a mutual decision amongst all the members. Comeback (1999-2002): It had almost been eight years since the band had last seen fame and their prolonged hibernation it seemed had erased the marks they had left on the music industry disappeared. Maqsood continued his work as a creative director at the advertising firm and had also involved Kapadia in the creative process as well. Kapadia served at marketing department for a production cell in the same company. Both had married and had children; they had forsaken music for family lives still sharing a passion for it. The year 2000 saw another shake in the Pakistani music industry and the duo saw an interest in joining the bandwagon. Rafiq and Kareem weren't accessible and decided not to continue with the band not because of indifferences but because they had settled down in their new lives. Maqsood and Kapadia then decided on forming the band within themselves. Reforming the band meant they could not continue with their respective jobs. Upon counsel amongst each other, they placed their resignation in pursuit of music. They recorded a song, "Duur" and the duo asked their friend Jamshed Mehmood, known to them as Jami, to direct the video for the song. In the events to follow the later years, Pakistan banned channels from across the border broadcasting from India and only allowed the few Pakistani channels to be broadcast on the cable network. In the aftermath private television networks took on the task to fill the void and soon new music channels were introduced in the country. The video for "Duur" was distributed to all the stations that aired on the tube and became an instant hit hailing their comeback. While Strings enjoyed huge success in Pakistan, they were oblivious to the fact that their earlier hit "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahaar" was being played in India in a remixed version in clubs and had built them a reputation over the years. When their new video was played on music channels in India, they were easily recognisable as the two who performed the earlier song and the song "Duur" became even more famous across the border. In January 2002, they re-launched Duur under the Magnasound label, who had previously launched pop stars like Baba Sehgal and Remo Fernandes. Ushering a new revival (2003-2006): The realisation that Pakistani pop songs had a cult following in India ushered a new sense of revival and encouragement for the established artists in the country. The local Pakistani music channels boasted this appeal and soon many singers from all over the country stood up to participate in collaborating with their counterparts from the neighbouring nation. Strings had been travelling to India for concerts and gigs and played alongside some well known bands like the New Delhi-based band Euphoria. And it was after fourteen years when the Indian cricket team toured Pakistan that the electronic giants Samsung invited Strings to collaborate with Euphoria and record a song titled "Jheet Lo Dil" which got the band their first major cross-border breakthrough. Later the song became an instant hit and named as the official song of the tournament. After the success of their third studio album and single "Jheet Lo Dil" the band toured all over Indian with Channel V. The band were warmly received by the Indian crowds and during this time, while touring in India, the band members got in touch with some of the most reputed singers of the nation to feature them on their next album. In the process, Strings collaborated with famous artists like Hariharan and Sagarika daCosta to work on their fourth studio album. Strings were invited to a television show "Jammin" on Channel V where the duo performed a duet "Pal" with Sagarika from their upcoming fourth album. The song was written, composed, recorded in both audio and video formats in a period of three days. The band then recorded their single "Bolo Bolo" but later invited Hariharan to sing on the track and they then rerecorded the song to include Hariharan. Both the collaborations were eagerly awaited by the fans and were critically acclaimed. The band then went on performing at Hard Rock Cafe in Dubai for an unplugged session which rose the band to even more fame outside the Subcontinent. With their success, the band were approached by Columbia Records to launch their new album and they accepted the offer. On September 1, 2003, the band released their fourth studio album Dhaani. In June 2004, Strings released the music video of their single "Dhaani" directed by Jamshed Mehmood and before the release of their next single "Najane Kyun" from their album, the band's biggest endeavor came when the band were approached by the heads of Columbia TriStar Films of India, a sister company to their record label company to include the song in the soundtrack of the Hindi version of the Hollywood blockbuster movie Spider-Man 2 directed by Sam Raimi. With their massive presence in the Indian pop music scene, Strings were mistaken for being an Indian band. In May 2005, Strings released the music video of their single "Kahani Mohabat Ki" directed by Umar Anwar. The single was a success and received positive response from critics and was critically acclaimed. With their success in Subcontinent, the band won the "Most Favorite Artist" award at the MTV Asia Awards 2005. Soon afterward with this success, the band were approached by the director Sanjay Gupta shooting the film Zinda, a remake of the classic South Korean film Oldboy, to do a soundtrack for the movie. Bilal Maqsood then composed a song titled "Zinda Hoon" written by famous writer, Anwar Maqsood, for the movie. For the video, the duo had to act alongside two A-list actors from Bollywood. It was here that the duo became good friends with John Abraham and Sanjay Dutt and would later appear in more ventures together. In July 2006, Strings were nominated for the "Most Wanted Band" award and won the "Motorola Music Icon" award at the The Musik Awards 2006 whereas the single "Zinda Hoon" was nominated for the "Most Wanted Song" and "Best Pop Song" award. On September 28, 2006, the band released an anti-war video "Beirut". Success (2007-2010): On May 8, 2007, Strings recorded and released a soundtrack song "Aakhri Alvida" for the Bollywood movie Shootout at Lokhandwala directed by Apoorva Lakhia. On November 1, the band then went on releasing a single "Hum Hee Hum" along with its music video from their upcoming fifth studio album. Also in late 2007, Strings struck a deal with Gibson Guitar Corporation, becoming the first South Asian band in history (along with the Pakistani rock band Jal) to create a working relationship with the famed guitar manufacturers. It was reported that according to the deal, Strings will exclusively use Gibson guitars during concerts, studio recordings and music videos. Furthermore, Strings will act as brand ambassadors to Gibson. In return, Gibson will sponsor the varied endeavours of the band and also provide concert halls and equipment as and when required. On May 16, 2008, Strings came up with the release of their fifth studio album Koi Aanay Wala Hai, released by Fire Records in Pakistan and by Sony BMG internationally. The album co-produced by Bollywood actor John Abraham, topped all music charts in both Pakistan and its neighbouring country India. The album included soundtracks of both Bollywood movies, Shootout at Lokhandwala and Zinda. On May 19, the band released their album self-titled single "Koi Aanay Wala Hai" which featured John Abraham. On June 24, Strings released another music video of "Humsafar", single from their fifth studio album, directed by Jamshed "Jami" Mehmood, shot in Moscow, Russia. This was followed by Strings performance at Coke Studio, a musical television programme, debut season which also showcased many well known artists and musicians from all over Pakistan such as Ali Azmat, Mauj, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Ali Zafar. Strings performed singles like "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar", "Anjane", from Duur, and "Zinda Hoon", from Koi Aanay Wala Hai, along with a duet of their single "Duur" with Ustaad Hussain Bakhsh Gullo, at the second episode of Coke Studio aired on local music channels on June 29. And then went on performing another duet of their single "Dhaani", from Dhaani, with Ustaad H. B. Gullo, at the third episode of the show aired in August. On October 9, Strings released another single "Jago", from their album release earlier the same year, along with a music video. The success of the band in Coke Studio season one led the band to perform at the show's second season last episode aired on Pakistan's Independence Day, August 14, in 2009. Strings performed with their song "Titliyan", along with many other successful music artists. Later in November, the band released "Titliyan" music video which did well at the local music charts. In June 2010, Strings signed a one-year partnership with the international airline, Etihad Airways based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to become its brand ambassadors with the core idea to promote the real image of Pakistan to the global market via the band's music. On the occasion of the contract signing, Mr. Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer for Etihad Airways' said he is "looking forward to witnessing how the Etihad brand name reached across the world through the music of Strings." Whereas vocalist Faisal Kapadia said that "It is not only about free air tickets. We needed something like this to promote the true image of Pakistan. We want to do concerts internationally, but it is very expensive. This deal will help to overcome that". From June 5, onwards, Strings along with Arshad Mehmood worked for the national awareness initiative Azme Alishan, judging the National Song Competition. The movement's main aim is to revive the spirit of nationhood and community in Pakistan and to highlight the youth musical talent within Pakistan, being televised all over the world. The show was televised throughout the summer, with the final winner of competition was announced in August 14. The band judged the show along with many well known people in the music industry which include Shahzad Hassan, former member of Vital Signs, singer Najam Sheraz, Khalid Khan, from the band Aaroh and many other people as guest judges along with Strings being the man permanent judges of the competition. On July 16, 2010, Strings released their single "Ab Khud Kuch Karna Paray Ga" which featured former Jal lead vocalist, Atif Aslam. In October, Strings, as being the brand ambassadors for Etihad Airways in Pakistan, distributed over 500 gift packs to displaced children living in the Sujawal relief camp, in collaboration with Emirates International Mobile Humanitarian Hospital for Children, who were victims of the 2010 Pakistan floods. Continued success (2011-present): In March 2011, Strings performed at the Aman Ki Asha concert held in Ahmedabad, India, alongside the Indian band Indian Ocean and then Strings went on performing with Shafqat Amanat Ali in Dubai. On March 28, Strings released the song "Mein Tou Dekhoonga".Then in February 2011 it also performed at Pearl, the annual cultural fest of Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani - Hyderabad Campus in Hyderabad, India. On April 4, Strings released the music video of the single "Mein Tou Dekhoonga" directed by Jamshed Mehmood. Later the same month, Strings became the brand ambassadors for Levi's Pakistan. On May 13, Strings went to perform at the Pakistani Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. On May 26, Levi's Original music released a promo featuring Strings and Zoe Viccaji. On May 30, Levi's original music released a music video of an a cappella of the song "Mera Bichra Yaar" featuring Zoe Viccaji. On June 4, Strings performed at Beach Luxury Hotel, the band started off with "Koi Aanay Wala Hai", the title song from their album released in 2008. Their next song was "Najane Kyun" which was dedicated to the journalists who had sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. Next, they sang their international hit, "Zinda Hoon" along with other songs like "Mein Tou Dekhoonga" and "Sohniyae". On June 10, a cover version of "Anjane" featuring Bilal Khan and Zoe Viccaji was released by Levi's original music. On August 1, in an interview with The Express Tribune Strings confirmed that they are working on two new songs, "Tum Hi To Ho" and "Goli Maray". Kapadia said, "The whole idea behind going into a recording studio and making a bunch of new songs is just to have fun. We strongly believe that coming out with new music helps us grow and reinvent ourselves as musicians." On August 15, in an interview at BBC Hindi show Music Beyond Border Strings discussed the current political situation of Pakistan and performed their song "Mein Tou Dekhoonga" and then covered the song "Bandeh" by Indian Ocean live, on request of Indian Ocean's lead vocalist Rahul Ram. On August 26, Bollywood director Sanjay Gupta confirmed that Strings will be lending their music as soundtrack for his movie Shootout at Wadala. A few days later, both Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia were spotted in India to compose music for the Bollywood movie. It was also reported that Ekta Kapoor and Sanjay Gupta hosted a special surprise party for the duo to which many well known celebrities were invited. On August 28, Indian local newspaper, Hindustan Times reported that actor Imran Khan has organized a special screening of his scatological comedy, Delhi Belly for members of Strings. In September, The Express Tribune reported that Strings and Atif Aslam has been nominated for the "Best Singer" award for their collaborative single "Ab Khud Kuch Karna Paray Ga" at the Lux Style Awards 2011. The band performed on 3 November at Waves '12, the cultural festival of the BITS Pilani Goa. Pepsi Featuring Strings band in their 2013 advertisement: Pepsi's new video song has featured Strings band. Click here for the video Music: Language: From their debut album Strings to their fifth album Koi Aanay Wala Hai, all songs are written by the band in the Urdu language. Mostly all lyrical content is written by the famous poet, Anwar Maqsood, with a few songs written by lead guitarist, Bilal Maqsood and writer, Zehra Nigah. The band is popular for attributing to the significance differently approached to their lyrics and music. Influence: Strings music is heavily influenced by eastern classical music and western rhythms. With increased emphasis on eastern melodies involving the touch of raga in the vocals, the band use instruments like flute and sarangi to give the vocals an Eastern touch to their songs. Songs like "Duur" and "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar" (from Duur) and "Kahani Mohabat Ki" (from Dhaani) are some examples of this influence. Other songs, such as "Sohniyae" and "Najane Kyun" (from Dhaani) have elements of rock music. Bands stated as influence and inspiration include Junoon and Nazia and Zoheb. Musical style: Strings performs a blend of western music and classical eastern music. Strings aimed to combine rhythm guitar riffs with the tranquility of classical eastern music. Their music has also been based on worldly issues and to have peace in the world. Their music has been one major force which has truly kept the national spirits high amidst the prevailing social woes which have surely worsened in the last three decades. Songs like "Ab Khud Kuch Karna Paray Ga", "Beirut", "Jheet Lo Dil" and "Titliyan" are examples. Their music has been captivating to the Pakistani youth for over ten years and have been one of the only saving grace of Pakistani music internationally after the departure of groups like Vital Signs and Nazia and Zoheb. Where Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was actively promoting Qawwali music and Junoon rock music, Strings approached their music with a little tint of Pakistani pop with classical music and combined with rhythms from stringed instruments. While the music of Strings is centered around a male lead singer, the band has also featured some featured artists on their albums ever since their self-titled debut release Strings. Since the release of their third studio album Duur the band's music has been based on classical eastern music blending with western music. Their fourth studio album Dhaani and fifth studio album Koi Aanay Wala Hai featured elements of rock music with songs like "Sohniyae", "Mera Bichra Yaar", "Koi Aanay Wala Hai" and "Jab Say Tumko". With the success of their music, many of the band's singles has been used as soundtracks for many Bollywood and Hollywood films. Singles that featured as soundtracks included "Najane Kyun" (from Spider-Man 2), "Zinda Hoon" (from Zinda) and "Aakhri Alvida" (from Shootout at Lokhandwala). Live performances: Strings is one of the few Pakistani artists to achieve international fame. Their popularity is attributed to the significantly different approach to their music and lyrics. Other singers of international repute include the likes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Junoon, Nazia Hassan, Jal and Vital Signs. Where Fateh Ali Khan was actively promoting Qawwali music and Junoon rock music, Strings approached their music with a little tint of Pakistani pop with classical music and combined with rhythms from stringed instruments. Junoon and Vital Signs had only been famous in the United States of America with a significant following in Europe, whereas Strings took their gigs to India, all over Asia and the Middle East, and the rest of the world making Pakistani pop music a truly remarkable genre. Even in areas like Nepal that are dominated by influence from their neighbouring India, Strings proved to be the most favourite band amongst crowds. They were so popular in Asia that they were given an award for being Asia's most favourite band at the MTV Asia Awards.

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