The first episode of Coke Studio Explorer travels to the snowy valleys of North Pakistan’s Chitral district, home to the Kalashas, an indigenous community of about 4,000 people. Here, teenagers Ariana and Amrina record Pareek, a folk song laced with electronic beats.
Coke Studio Explorer, which was premiered on July 3, is the revamped version of Pakistan’s long-running Coke Studio. The international franchise brings established and emerging artists across genres together in a studio setting. The Pakistan edition was reworked following the departure last year of Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia, members of the rock band Strings, who served as executive producers from season 7 to season 10 (Vital Signs rocker Rohail Hyatt was the executive producer from seasons one to six.) Ali Hamza, from the Pakistani band Noori, and Zohaib Kazi are leading the show’s 11th season.
Coke Studio Explorer moves out of the studio setting and travels across Pakistan with Hamza and Kazi to discover new artists. In episode 1, the hunt for an “all-female indigenous musical act” takes them to Chitral. Recording sessions with Ariana and Amrina, along with a host of backing vocalists, result in Pareek (meaning “Let’s go” in the Kalasha language).
The energetic three-minute track, adapted from Kalasha folk lore, is a celebration of adventure, where a lover persuades the companion to embark on a journey. “The idea was to infuse large electronic drums to create an urban anthem, giving the song an over powering sense of grandeur,” the song description on the Coke Studio website adds.