For some, the gathering of like-minded, free-spirited individuals in the forest for 4 days of non-stop music, workshops, speakers, and art is enough to transform the soul. To show you another way to live, a more enriched, fulfilled way of seeing the possibilities all around us. But for others, this is not enough. To satisfy the desires of a diverse crowd, Enchanted Forest doesn’t stop there. They bring some of the most unique attributes of the festival scene into play, including a liberating #freethenipple campaign, 24-hour shower parties, a 100 percent alcohol-free experience, and a “Save The Planet” charity initiative with Cadence & Cause, where you can win 2 all-inclusive tickets to the festival simply by donating.

To top it off, Enchanted Forest brings with them some of the most well know and carefully selected musicians the festival space has to offer. Including a fascinating 8 member Qawwali group called Fanna Fi Allah.

Qawwali music is something that most of us from the festival world have never heard of. It is a cultural phenomenon in South Asia and has been around for almost a thousand years, so why are we introduced to it now?

We sat down with their founder Tahir to ask a few questions of this uniquely inspiring band before heading into the forest.

TMN: So, how long have you guys been around and where do you play most of your music?

Tahir: We have been touring for 16 years and actually only play about 5% of our music at American festivals. Most is spent in Pakistan, India, and the Punjabi cultures in South Asia and the Middle East.

TMN: How did you get started in Qawwali and what part of the music draws you to the perform at American based festivals in front of many patrons have never even been exposed to this before?

Tahir: I was interested in Indian mysticism and philosophy since I was 14 and actually moved there at 16 years old. The music is powerful, and an amazing way of expressing devotion. It is a medium between the modern and contemporary music of the West and the classical style that most Indian and spiritual music is based around. Our sound is folky, groovy, up-tempo, dance music.

TMN: So you feel like you fit into this crowd of Electronic music lovers through that style?

Tahir: I really see our music as a bridge between the pop culture world and the world of devotional music. Kirtan has become popular In the states, but we have more of an ecstatic feel. You want to move to it.

TMN: Where are your members from and how did you become the leader of the group?

Tahir: 3 of us are from the US, 2 from Canada, and 3 from Pakistan. I am the one that opens the prayers and starts the verses, I also play the lead rhythm instrument.

TMN: Favorite festival in the world?

Tahir: World Sufi Spirit Fest

TMN: How do you feel that your music inspires this generation?

Tahir: Opens people mind to feel and move to more complex rhythms and know what that sounds like. To Appreciate eastern music and conveying that you are Invited and accepted into learning this tradition.

TMN: It shows you to how to be sincere, real, and honest, and this information is beautifully expressed in the poetry we sing.

Tahir: We collaborate with new-age electronic artists with different styles and backgrounds. Much like the way of the Sufis, merging beliefs from all forms of mysticism, we do that with our music.

TMN: What statement do you want your music to make long term?

Tahir: Music is a language beyond words, the essence of devotional music is surrender and love.

TMN: It’s also quite rebellious music in the way it brings people together and breaks down walls.

Tahir: Qawwali attracted a lot of people to Islam in Pakistan by breaking down a lot of strict, conservative traditions and barriers.

TMN: Speaking of breaking down conservative tradition; how do you feel about performing at Enchanted Forest, with not selling alcohol, the foam shower parties, and the #freethenipple campaign?

Tahir: I think it narrows down the audience it attracts and brings in a certain atmosphere. Sufi music is all about living freely and is similar to this festival in the way that all social taboos are turned upside down. It is funny to see everyone come out of their shell, if only for a weekend. We see this in the festival we play in Islamic nations as well, the women coming from a regimented background there let loose, a lot of cathartic expression with head banging and wild dancing.

But we are excited to play a new festival. And love to be by the river and in nature. Looking forward to playing informal music sets throughout the weekend.

TMN: I heard that you are performing a set on the main stage as well as a sunrise set. What are the differences between the energy of the two?

(Jokes about being too old to do a sunrise set) We don’t do many sunrise sets, Qawwali is very strong music and something we have to warm up to. We have to be very fresh and awake to sing and play the music we do.

But we will make sure to let all of our energy out for one great show on the Main Stage.

TMN: You can find Tahir and Fanna Fi Allah at Enchanted Forest this summer, July 22nd-24th. And make sure to watch and contribute to their Go Fund Me campaign by clicking here.

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