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Alright Mela Meets Santoo

World of Qawwali !

By exploring for almost ten years a form of electro pop qawwali that they play around the world with Markus & Shahzad, Markus, Xavier and Shahzad Santoo Khan wanted to go a little further in sharing and meeting by offering a formula extended to 8 musicians: Alright Mela Meets Santoo.

The Story : 

In 2013, Markus created an artistic project that has been close to his heart for many years by combining Egyptian-inspired oud with electronic music, sometimes ambient, sometimes techno.

Xavier joins him and gets involved in the artistic creation.

Markus met Shahzad Santoo Khan on social networks and managed to organize concerts in

France in Anjou in 2015 where Shahzad appeared as a guest of the group Markus.

In 2016, an artistic residency in Karachi (Pakistan) allowed us to further deepen the collaboration with Shahzad and the creation of the repertoire for a series of concerts by the group Markus & Shahzad.

In 2017 during Markus & Shahzad‘s summer tour, the group met Dionysiac Tour who would become their booking agency and whose collaboration would allow the group to have a real international stature in the world music network (Womex network)

The group’s two albums, Tumba in 2018 and Janna Aana in 2020, were noticed by professionals and the specialized press (Transglobal Charts, f f f  Télérama- Oct 2020).

In 2021, faced with a pandemic which prevented Shahzad from being able to travel, Markus and

Xavier decided to create the oriental electro duo Alright Mela where we can hear mixed music of Mediterranean and Arabic inspiration mixed with very 80’s Electro Tape Music.


With the duo Alright Mela, we rediscover the essence of the Markus & Shazhad project, whose unparalleled identity is expressed wonderfully on stage. Even if we sometimes find Shahzad’s sampled voice as if coming from an old rusty transistor, Alright Mela avoids all the pitfalls of world music or clichés of the Orient.

The duo formed by Markus and Xavier offers a solid electronic base honed in uncompromising drum and bass mixed live, on which their talent as performers

can express themselves without limit.

The electric oud, far from trying to imitate a powerful electric guitar, opens up quite incredible timbres, ethereal and organic and does not hesitate to string together effective but always surprising riffs.

A set of varied keyboards oscillate between 70s psychedelic and deeply vintage sounds, adding groove to groove!

If the health crisis we went through was a real obstacle to the development of Markus &

Shahzad, the desire to still share their music and continue their exchanges has been reinforced.

Alright Mela meets Santoo : 

Qawwali refers to a musical genre specific to Pakistan, popularized in Europe by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. These are songs that are both deliberately profane and sacred, intended to convey the message of Sufi poetry.

The joint desire of Markus, Xavier and Shahzad Santoo Khan to deepen the artistic exchange between electro, oud and Pakistani qawwali music gave rise to the project of an extended artistic encounter between Alright Mela and Shahzad Santoo Khan‘s group : Qawwali music and Sufi poetry on one side of the globe, Egyptian Arabic music and electro pop on the other.

With the support of the Alliances Françaises and the French Embassy in Pakistan, the meeting of Shahzad Santoo Khan‘s qawwali musicians in Lahore aroused human and musical curiosity on both sides. The strength of the qawwali melodies has nothing to envy of the greatest Western hits and the power of the rhythms played by the tablas and the claps of the singers (clapping hands) transcend the listener. A modern pop mix fuels the musicians of Lahore and Angers in a captivating fusion that is good for our humanity in search of meaning. The contours of traditional qawwali music and electronic music compete in ingenuity to know each other, surprise each other, discover each other.

If the texts and melodies come from themes dear to Sufi poetry (songs of eternal love), qawwali music has often been imbued with innovation and creative vitality and finds its natural place in the music of Alright Mela. After his father who was the first to play the clarinet in qawwali music (BBC World Music Awards 1995), Santoo in turn wishes to bring a modern touch with electronic music.

Coming from both pieces usually played by Shahzad Santoo Khan‘s group and pieces composed either for Markus & Shahzad or for Alright Mela, the set list offers the listener a real meeting of Eastern and Western Pakistani cultures within even pieces but also over the entire duration of the concert ; a balanced encounter which allows for the singularity of cultures without one taking precedence over the other.

Line up : Salamat Ali (tablas), Shahid Iqbal (chorus, clap), Markus (oud, musical direction), Shahzad Santoo Khan (lead vocal, harmonium, musical direction), Xavier (keyboards, electronics, musical direction), Gohar Habib (chorus, clap)

Markus first comes to the stage through the theater. His apprenticeship with members of the Peter Brook Company, with Niels Arestrup, his participation in a show hosted at the Théâtre du Soleil by Ariane Mnouchkine and his participation in the filming of a feature film by Yannick Bellon will confirm his desire for a demanding artistic journey. But it was ultimately through music that he developed his artistic desires.

First prize in classical guitar at the CRR in Versailles, he developed the song duo Les DElfes (two albums with Harmonia Mundi and artist France Inter) of which he is the guitarist and main composer. He arranges Christophe Bell Œil’s first solo album “Je ne voir le monde” and composes music for live shows. After around ten years of learning the oud, he played his music for film concerts, documentaries or reading concerts. He created the Markus project and developed his collaboration with Shahzad Santoo Khan.




Shahzad is a Pakistani qawali singer. Grandson of the legendary

Ustad Santoo Khan, he comes from a large family of musicians from Gawaliar Gharan. From the age of 6, he learned the art of Qawali with his father Munawar Santoo Khan, famous for being the only Pakistani clarinetist to have adapted his instrument to Sufi music (BBC World Music Award in 1995). Shahzad masters Qawali rhythms as well as classic ragas or alâps, which makes him a unique Qawal in Pakistan today.

After many years of learning, he played for the first time in 2004 and has since continued to sing in Pakistan, India and now in France with Markus. He was awarded the Baba Guru Nanak Prize in 2008.



Initially a saxophonist in various groups (Mad Nomads, Rude Boy System, etc.), Xavier moved to electronic music within the Bullitt

group in 2005 and discovered keyboards, samplers and synthesizers. He also collaborated with Studio Nomade, which works to promote and create French song abroad with the Alliances Françaises (two tours in China and one in Pakistan). He played keyboards in the Angevin folk pop group Cherry Plum, as well as in 2024 (psyché song) and with Jean-Louis Bergère (French song). In addition to Alright Mela, Xavier plays in the group Azadi. He also accompanies the singer Marsu (Les Franglaises) in her solo project. Xavier has also created sound creations for theater and comedy shows (Théâtre de Paris, Jarry) or children’s CD-books (Benjamin Lacombe at Editions du Seuil).




Dionysiac Tour, founded in 2007, is a booking and management agency. Their catalog of more than twenty artists offers music with varied aesthetics (world, song, electro, rock, etc.) and from all countries (France, Armenia, Spain, Greece, South Korea, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil …). In a tense economic and social context, the choice of artists defended is based above all on humanity. Dionysiac intervenes in their development by supporting them and advising them in their ongoing creation (residencies, compositions, new shows, new albums, etc.). Since July 2021, Dionysiac Tour has opened a branch in Angers, where president Christian CLÉRET is from, in order to establish a strong local anchor and further develop a catalog of artists from Anjou.

Noted passages :

Zsiget Festival (HU), Boom Festival (PT), La Plage de Glazart (FR), Festival de Musicas do Mundo de Sines (PT), Earth Garden Festival (MT), Festival L’Oasis Bizz’Art (FR), Le Chabada (FR), Festival

Tempo Rives (FR), La Sirène (FR), Kwala Festival (RUN), Les Abracadagrasses (FR), Festival Une

Oreille sur le Monde (FR), Festival Estival de Trélazé (FR), Festif l’Art (FR), Les Travers Cé

Musicales (FR), Festival Nits de Cinema Oriental de Vic (ES), Bled Festival (SL) , Tournée des

Alliances Françaises au Pakistan 2016 et 2018, Festival Heritage Face Foundation Islamabad


Discography :

« Tumba » : 1st album of  Markus & Shahzad

In 2018, (cover art realized by Iranian artist Asad Faulwell)  with guest Mamani Keita & Denis Péan (Lo’Jo).

Noticed by the specialized media and by an appearance on the TV show  Tracks sur Arte.

« Janna Aana » :

Qawwali singing, catchy melodies, rhythm danceable, heady electro riffs are the signature of this second opus on the festive and captivating path of international trance music.

( f f f  Télérama – Fip Radio – Songlines)

Featuring : Hend Elrawy (Orange Blossom) and Erik « Raggy » Sevret  (Zenzile).

« Janna Aana Remixed » : Remix by Sumac Dub, Zenzile, Samifati,  Péroké, Vendas Novas, Spooky-J & Bill Bobitt.

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