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Interview With Pakistan

MENTOLOGY, TRAFFIC, TESTICLES AND TEA

Jason Sebastian Russo – known to us as the funniest man on Twitter (see here), the founder of psych-rockers Hopewell and the leader of found-sound visionaries Common Prayer (see their split-screen intraview here), recently went to Pakistan. Knowing his propensity for all things visual and genial we asked him to share his photos and an insight into his adventures – which involved philosophy, goat testicles and salted tea – with us. Or, In Jason’s words:

My trip to Pakistan began when the producer for my bands (and good friend) Damon, was invited to produce a record for the Pakistani band Noori. With all of their previous albums having been written in Urdu, they were looking to make an English record. I was brought along to help with song writing and production.

The trip quickly d/evolved into a sort of cultural exchange beyond my wildest imaginings. The two brothers, Ali Noor and Ali Hamza, are the creative force behind the band, and we spent the bulk of our time at their grandfather’s (referred to only as RazaSanjan Nagar Institute of Philosophy & Arts, where we became immersed in his philosophy of Mentology and the music of the instrument he invented, the Sagar Veena (played beautifully by his daughter, Bibli).

We toured an all girls school set up by Raza and his daughters with the tax money he refuses to pay the government. Damon saw a doctor and received three prescription medications for less than $20 (this is a big deal here in the US). I ate a combination of goat testicles, brains, and kidneys. We watched people drive five family members at a time through insane traffic on tiny 80cc Honda motorcycles and ride oxen through fields while texting. We salted our tea. I eventually went native and wore a kurta and shawl over my beard to avoid people’s stares. Some music was made, but mainly we ate and talked. The whole thing felt like a beginning of something. The brothers are coming to New York in June to begin recording in earnest. Can’t wait to share the results.

Now back in the US, Common Prayer will be opening for Daniel Johnston at SXSW on 13 March. They play a show at Union Pool in Brooklyn tomorrow.