What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently busy working on my own film, which is in post-production. We haven't named it yet, but we can hopefully release it soon. This week, I am featuring a new artist named Shuvro from GP Music and Bioscope. I am directing both the music and music video for his single, and I am positive that the audience will love it as he is immensely talented. Besides these, I am working on the solo album of Aditarians, and we are already done with four tracks.
Aditarians has performed two renditions of their songs in Gaanbangla's Wind of Change. There has been much debate over the use of international musicians instead of local ones. What is your take on that?
I've heard the 'complaints' as well, and I do not understand why that is. A lot of Bangladeshi musicians have performed in this program. One of the main attractions of the show is how Bangladeshi musicians gel with the international ones and create something different. I see no reason to debate over this.
What do you think are the primary differences between Bangladeshi musicians and international ones?
I'll be honest here; we are far, far behind when it comes to respecting music as an art and profession. The religious stigma that music is somehow 'bad' hinders the industry a lot. We do not get proper teachers for instruments that are a little on the exotic side: sitar, chelo, sarod, sarengi. There are very, very few players of these instruments as a whole. Also, it is near impossible to make a livelihood doing music only because factors such as piracy, lack of royalties and many others. If we see our neighboring country India, there is a stark contrast. The musicians and singers there can get royalties for their songs as far as 10 years after the release. The laws are very strong there, and it allows musicians to live a secure life, which cannot be said for this country. Now, tell me, how can musicians thrive in such an environment?
I will agree that music is often looked down upon as a profession here. What can we do to salvage this situation?
The good news is, we are starting to come out of that mentality. However, it is disheartening that we are ignored in many upper echelons of the society. In many campaigns for popular brands, songs are used that help them get viral. However, the names of the artists are barely mentioned. They are usually mentioned in barely legible captions. We have to come out of this mentality and start giving credit where it is due.
Tell us about how you started doing music. Who are your favorite Bangladeshi artists?
I started learning music since I was very little. The funny thing is, when I first tried to learn classical music, the teachers rejected me saying that I did not have the voice for it. My first mentor was Haider Hussain, he helped and inspired me immensely. I once went to Close Up One, where I got rejected. I was still adamant about music and ironically, I have made the judge who rejected me sing a track for me. Kumar Biswajit's Rodela Dupur became the title track for the album, so that is a huge achievement. My studio career officially started when Arnob bhai (Shayan Chowdhury Arnob) offered me to help out with the music of Monpura. I would have to say that he, along with Habib Wahid and Fuad Almuqtadir, are my favorite Bangladeshi artists.
Any message you would like to convey to your fans?
I just want to say that since we dedicate our lives to music, everyone should be considerate in giving us the respect that we deserve. This is our livelihood, so there is no reason that music should not be thought of as a legitimate profession.
Interviewed by Sadi Mohammad Shahnewaz