Zeb & Haniya

Zeb and Haniya are a pop rock music group from Kohat, Pakistan. The group's songs are mostly in Urdu, but some lyrics are also in Pushto and Persian. Their music has been described at various times as alternative, art folk, ethnic blues and easy listening by international reviewer's and critics.

While their family is originally from Kohat, North-West Frontier Province, much of the band's work takes place in Lahore. Haniya is a native of Islamabad, and the act spend time working in Karachi too. Their itinerary for the global tour is being set in 2009. They have performed mostly in the Persian Gulf region, in some parts of Sindh and Punjab.

The band is a project started by two musicians, who are cousins, Zebunnisa Bangash and Haniya Aslam. Both are ethnic Pashtuns. They began writing music together when studying as undergraduates at Smith College and Mount Holyoke College in the United States, although have stated that music was always a part of their life at home.

Formation (2007-2008)

Zebunnisa Bangash and Haniya Aslam, a female duo who have evolved from two college kids experimenting with music as a hobby to artists who have created one of the most anticipated albums of 2007. Zeb and Haniya was conceived circa 2000-2003, the girls’ college days in the United States, where Zeb studied Economics and History of Art and Haniya studied Computer Science and Anthropology. Chup, their first song, came to life in sessions at an abandoned café in the basement of Zeb's dorm. After a tremendous response from the college community, Zeb and Haniya recorded a rough version of Chup and another song titled Yaad with Mekaal Hasan (of Mekaal Hasan Band). Once again, the response was remarkable. The songs were a hit. They spread on the internet and soon found their way onto Pakistan’s City FM 89 radio waves. Zeb has been singing since age eight and has been training as a vocalist since 1998 with acclaimed Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan. Her fellow musician and first cousin, Haniya, is a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter.

Chup! (2008-present)

Zeb and Haniya released their debut album in July, 2008. 9 of their debut album’s 10 songs are original compositions. Produced by Mekaal Hasan, the accompanying musicians on the album read like a ‘best of’ list in the national music scene: former Noori drummer, Louis 'Gumby' Pinto on percussion, Shallum Asher Xavier of Fuzon on lead guitar, and bass by Kamran 'Mannoo' Zafar. Mauj’s Omran Shafique contributes blues lead guitar on one song, and Co-Ven’s Hamza Jafri, Sikander Mufti and Sameer Ahmed feature on the album's closing number, a high-spirited fusion track. Finally, the accomplished Norwegian jazz trumpeter, Hildegunn Øiseth, makes an unforgettable appearance in five tracks.
After the success of Chup and Yaad, Zeb and Haniya’s climb up the music industry ladder began with live performances. The first was commissioned by the American Consulate in Islamabad. This was followed by the first full-length Zeb and Haniya concert in Lahore. In 2007, the girls began the process of recording their debut album, which was released in Pakistan in July 2008. In addition to recording the album and shooting for videos, 2007 and 2008 were marked by a rising tide of publicity and acclaim, including a multitude of appearances on many major Pakistani television networks, including Geo, Dawn, Aaj, CNBC, and many others. Since the album launch, Zeb and Haniya have been touring the major cities of Pakistan, promoting their album with live shows and media appearances. Zeb and Haniya have also graced print media, with multiple appearances in local Pakistani newspapers and magazines, including The News, Dawn News, The Friday Times, Newsline, and numerous others, including a feature in the cover story of The Herald's 2008 Annual Issue. Apart from this, the girls have also appeared in many renown international publications, including Newsweek International, BBC Online World Service, Rolling Stone India, Khaleej Times and The Hindu, to name a few. They were also recently featured in their respective alumnae magazine, Smith College and Mount Holyoke College, as well as on an NPR radio show, The World.

The band have said that they attempt to produce a diverse body of work, combining pop music with Pushto and Farsi folk music. They have been touted as the successors to Nazia Hassan, a Pakistani singer who achieved worldwide fame in the 1980s. Their debut album received positive reviews in most of Pakistan's major newspapers, and they have been hailed as one of the (if not the) first all-female bands from Pakistan. In 2009, they performed at Coke Studio Sessions along with artists like Noori, Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, Strings and many other successful musicians. They performed "Paimana Bitte" and "Chal Diye" at the Coke Studio Sessions.

Music style and influences

Zeb and Haniya matured from the underground to the national scene, where their ascent continues today. Their songs bring a spectrum of style, instrumentation and influence. Some tracks ring with the cheeriness of pop while others capture the evocative richness of Pashto and Farsi folk traditions.

Their sound is not confined to one genre, and has been described as alternative, art folk, ethnic blues and World Music. Their influences are many, including pioneering pop and folk from Pakistan, 60s and 70s folk guitar-based music from the US and UK, classical South Asian music, classic jazz, delta blues. The artists skim across decades, genres and borders to produce a truly innovative sound. Their songs seamlessly mix blues grooves and jazzy rhythms into complex melodies grounded in local traditions. Finally, we have a sound that touches the brilliant kaleidoscope of language, history and culture that is Pakistan.

The band draws upon a diverse set of influences including Suzanne Vega, Turkish singer Barış Manço, and jazz and blues singers like Muddy Waters.