Thursday 30 June 2022
Ancient devotional songs arranged into own brand of jazz and neo-classical beauty. Her live band is full of star musicians.

Arooj Aftab‘s compositions are like listening to a soundscape of Pakistan. She was born in Pakistan and currently resides in Brooklyn.

The 36-year-old musician released her first album, Bird Under Water, in 2014. It gained her a spot with the song “Lullaby” on NPR's list of ‘200 Greatest Songs by 21st Century Women’.

It was evident that Aftab had a special talent for merging the poetry and euphoria of Pakistani Qawwali and Sufi styles and modern, interpretive riffs from rock, classical and jazz.

On 2018’s Siren Islands, she sings and plays all the guitars and synthesizers, each recorded live with liberal use of loop pedals, resulting in a beautiful ambient-like swirl of sounds that take you to a faraway dreamland.

For her third album, she intended to make a bunch of high-energy dance songs. But after losing her younger brother, she was mourning and needed to change her music significantly.

She reached for the Urdu ghazals. The closest thing South Asia has to the blues, the ghazal is a musical form steeped in loss and longing. And when listening to Arooj Aftab’s 2021 album Vulture Prince, the mournful notes are easily detected. The yearning of the ghazal is fused with minimal compositions that draw from both jazz, Hindustani classical and folk music.

This has earned her two nominations at the GRAMMYs, for ‘Best new artist’ and ‘Best global music performance’.

Arooj Aftab has put together a star-studded live band for her first performance at Roskilde Festival, consisting of Shahzad Ismaily on bass, Greg Fox on drums, Maeve Gilchrist on harp and Gyan Riley on guitar.

Greg Fox was an artist-in-residence at Roskilde Festival in 2016. The former Lithurgy drummer played three concerts with three different projects. For one of them he brought along Shahzad Ismaily who is also known for collaboration with the likes of Marc Ribot. Expect some masterly bass playing for this occasion as well! Gyan Riley, the son of minimalist composer Terry Riley, is also on board in this band, as is Scottish harp player Maeve Gilchrist. All them will ensure a solid backing for Arooj Aftab’s beautiful songs!