How do we define Rocqawali Band?
A Sufi band playing an electric rock version of qawali.
What is the story behind the name ‘Rocqawali’?
It is simply the words of Rock and Qawali, put together.
What got you all into music? How was the band formed?
We have all been professionals all our adult life. The band was formed by Stephan Grabowski and Jonas Stampe after a Bollywood theatre show in Denmark and UK.
Guitarist Jonas Stampe – who is of half Danish half Pakistani descend – in 2014 went to Pakistan to stay and learn with the legendary qawals Meher and Sher Ali. During the period of natural evolution, he started being more and more on the stage with the group and joined them on their long and enduring tours all over the country. Around the same Ejaz Sher Ali (who is son of leader) had started singing in the group (which is family business) and during those many tours Jonas and Ejaz developed a brother-like bond. As part of their friendship, Jonas also wanted to invite Ejaz to Denmark to come and make music and see the world. It was during one of those many stays in Denmark that they met with drummer Stephan Grabowski , who had himself for a long time, also had a dream to be in a band that created fusion of Sufi music with a western approach. As a coincidence, one day of initial meetings, Iranian guitarist Tin Soheili, who is also of a Sufi background, was there and as of that it felt like the group was a natural.
What was your inspiration to follow the Sufi Rock fusion art of music?
To be honest – we started playing a bit out of our own boxes, but slowly we have gotten to understand each other backgrounds. For singer Ejaz ex, it can be very hard to understand emotional contend of loud guitars – and in the same way, there is a huge amount of cultural contend in the Pakistani melodies, which is an ongoing process for the Danish guy to really feel. We all share a deep love for music.
Being a musician what you enjoy the most?
Any interesting memory that makes a particular gig you performed your favorite?
It was fantastic to perform in front of 30,000 people in Islamabad at the Coke Studio Festival in 2017.
What would be your dream collaboration with any musician?
Abida Parween and Zakir Hussein.
How would you want the world to remember you?
As innovators and for bringing qawali to the west and also new generation.
What is the band up to at the moment and What’s next on your bucket list?
We are working on a documentary movie about the band with esteemed Danish film director, Torben S. Jensen.
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