Ali Sethi’s 40th Birthday Bash: A Night of Music, Magic, and Mayhem

On the morning of his birthday, singer-songwriter Ali Sethi woke up anxious. He’d had a fever dream about his party going terribly awry. Was it a sign that he should have stuck to his original plan of “inviting some friends to dinner in”? But that would mean turning down the advice of award-winning author, who had implored him to “do something big” for his fortieth and practically goaded him into throwing a soiree. He needn’t have worried because it would turn out to be a night to remember. Filled with several you-had-to-be-there moments—one of them being star’s “jogging dance” to ‘Be My Lover’—Sethi’s birthday unfolded on his Insta Stories, giving his followers a sneak peek of what looked like the party of a lifetime. The ‘Pasoori’ singer’s mood board for the night was both wild and oddly specific: “I wanted it to feel like a funhouse or mela—‘electric communal’ if that makes sense,” he explains. “I wanted desi rituals and neon signs. A liminal space between a nightclub and a sangeet ceremony.” He got all of it—and then some. Artist LaWhore Vagistan presided over Sethi’s ‘hybrid darbar’ (a description coined at the party by curator Navina Haider)—a fusion of mujra, burlesque and what folks from Punjab refer to as ‘Maut Da Khhu’ (‘Well of Death’). The medley of sufi chants, RnB tunes and hip-hop beats kept guests on their feet the entire time. At some point during the night, Sethi surprised everyone by breaking into songs from his upcoming album. “I wanted unfiltered reactions to my new music and I got them,” he smiles. I ask the newly minted quadragenarian if this is the best celebration he’s had to date and his response is satisfyingly childlike: “Full to full.” Naturally, as journalists, we requested proof and the singer was only too happy to comply with pictures. Below, we take you through Sethi’s fortieth bash alongside asking him rapid-fire questions about love, life, lessons and, well, his new album, of course. I’m when serving. Stay in touch with the strange and sensuous part of you. So freaking blessed. Canadian music producer and rapper Kaytranada. I want to make clothes. I’ve become more relaxed and I don’t need stimuli as much. I now know that what matters to me the most is being around —fielding it and generating it in my personal and professional life. Western chord progressions, man! I want to build the house of my . No amount of external exploration can compensate for your lack of self-awareness. I sleep! ‘Music Room’ by Salman Toor. Isfahan in . I’m not that famous! Follow the love. The ones who taught me music. That I’ve managed to virtually reach audiences I can’t physically reach. I’m open to a lot more now. I want to practise . My own. ! I realise closeness is not about hanging out 24/7; it’s about being able to believe in each other’s better nature. Ask me next year and I’ll show you a six-pack. Humans have made big strides, but we’ve also destroyed the planet. It makes me sad. The songs are so short now. But I’m guilty of this myself. They haven’t. Reading physical . There is a moment and I replay it again and again but I can’t tell you what it is. I used to think happiness lay ahead of me and was something external I had to find. Now, I know it’s within and around me. Releasing new music. It’s so good, if I say so myself. No amount of YouTube tutorials can replace deep, immersive learning—especially when it comes to music. I’m not as as I used to be. That we live in a free world. We’re not there yet. —am I not living it already? More family time. The word is ‘ascension.’ As in, rise to the challenge or occasion that life offers, but also levitate and be free. Hot, hybrid forms that seduce, dazzle and ultimately defy categorisation—like me, hehe. , playful vibes and some dark, nautanki energy. It’s fun and fabulous but I can never escape melancholy and so there it is, hiding under the surface of everything.

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