2017: Bangladeshi Artists to Check Out
Image courtesy: Futurehood
This will be the fourth time in the last 5 years that I have had the joy and privilege to compile a list of the most promising contemporary Bangladeshi artists. 6 years ago I would have never believed that I would get the opportunity to present the most promising local acts but now we really seem to have passed the first and largest hurdle. What a time to reflect on the future of Dhaka’s electronic music scene!
This year’s list is the strongest ever, period. The artists come from all walks of sounds but the unifying element is that they are serious about putting Bangladesh on the music map. There is no denying that many of the previous artists featured got lost due to a variety of frustrations but they are all responsible for the strength of the current landscape. The best thing about this year’s feature are the new names that we have, many of whom are still in their early 20s. This list is not a ranking, artists are presented in random order.
Dameer is the youngest artist on the list. A self-taught musician whose first instrument was the guitar, he followed it by learning the piano and drums before discovering his niche and picking up electronic production. Influenced by hip-hop and electro, his beats have a unique quality. Of recent finds, I can’t think of anyone I have enjoyed listening to more. One to watch out for. (Fahad)
MESSUP aka Albab Rana’s debut EP ‘Phases’ is a solid introduction to the new artist who sports a fresh and unique sound. This young producer from the heart of Dhaka reminds us all that talent persists in vacuums. His new EP ‘Human Errors’ will be a treat for everyone. (Fahad)
FutureHood aka Anika is an intriguing artist who’s carving a solid path for herself. In the previous list, she was a last-minute entry but is now one of the names on everyone’s lips.
Distinctive drums with funky bass lines on the track ‘Triple Double’ get your feet tapping before you’re transported to a sunny cheerful track like ‘Orange Appeal’. Anika is also a very talented singer – her cover of Verve track, ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ brings about pangs of nostalgia and is highly recommended. (Fahad)
A producer with a sound that may remind you of Trentemøller at times. He clearly aims to push boundaries while making music that is simple, enjoyable and easy for listening. Humayan Islam has been invested in his craft for a while with his patience finally bearing fruit.
Islam recently moved to Bangalore to study visual arts; a creative talent who is both confident, fresh and has a clear vision for future creative pursuits. A core member of Kaaktalio, Humayan is yet to release any music officially but you should check out his first unofficial EP ‘Null’.
Simplicity in his production is the reason I WNDR WHY (IWW) aka Ummid Ashraf stands out. Having recently discovered future bass I couldn’t help but appreciate the directness of Ummid’s sound. Don’t let the restraint fool you though. Every IWW tune takes you on a journey with tracks like ‘Zen’ indicating the potential he has to be a mainstay on your playlist. (Fahad)
Farooque Bhai, the brains behind the self-titled music project describes himself as “slightly outspoken, slightly erratic and often politically incorrect.” This franticness is apparent in his sound – experimenting with a multitude of influences which he is able to present in a single palette.
Farooque lists his musical inspiration with gusto: from his father’s Bob Marley vinyl to classical Tagore songs, he had an early introduction to a multitude of musical styles. After brief phases with thrash metal and indie rock, he is currently exploring jazz and hip-hop and while dipping his toes into other continents’ music, he retains a special focus on North African sounds, namely from artists like Tinariwen, Fela Kuti, and Salif Keita. Farooque’s many influences can be seen in one of his collaborations with Mishaal Masud Sinha and Saf1 in a track called ‘Koro Bhai’, which has a sample from a Bangla film called ‘Andolan’. (Fahad)
KVBIR aka Showrav, has a track on his SoundCloud profile named ‘Diversity’ which is also the simplest way to sum up his production style. Incorporating samples ranging from ‘Anchorman’ to other diverse sounds, KBVIR captures the ideal dub feel while adding a whole lot more flavour. His original tracks are a bit limited but hopefully, there will be more to come. (Fahad)
As the name implies, Minimal Animal makes stripped-down techno. The sounds are characteristically the bare minimum, consistently exploiting the use of repetition. At a personal level, his influences are an interesting mix of rural folk and Baul music. I find his music incorporates a near-perfect balance between globalisation and traditionalism. He is planning to get started with live performances soon.
In the Dhaka scene, lo-fi has made a huge impact influencing the work of many artists. Enter Saf1, a producer dedicated to delivering the smoothest hip-hop and lo-fi beats. Starting from the first offering on his SoundCloud profile, you know you’re listening to a near perfect track. His beats have the ingredients to go places and to be a part of hip-hop scenes across borders. (Fahad)
Apeiruss has been a typhoon-like presence in the Bangladesh electronica scene. Releasing hit after hit with prominent singers like Bangladeshi stars Tashan and Amid; they have definitely found a sound that makes the crowds happy. Samee, Shafi, and Andy are the trio that forms the backbone of the group and they don’t seem to have any plans to slow down.
Not content with just holding their talent to the local market, Apeiruss has also worked in the Bollywood industry contributing many songs that are part of hit movies. The team has shown they are willing to put in the hard work and at this rate, the sky is the limit. A standout track and personal favourite is ‘Joss na?’ which features BeatBaksho. (Fahad)
Another young artist who has the potential to become a techno genius is on full drive with his volume of raw and original techno mixes. The 20-year-old producer, who just started performing live this year, has something special about him.
Samin, a vocalist, comedian and potential dancer, runs a popular Facebook page which went viral following a vaping video. He has been a regularly featured artist for producers like Bedheadz, Kadin and MESSUP.
A British/Bangladeshi producer currently residing in Dhaka, a few of his tracks will rightfully remind listeners of where he came from.
‘Echolalia’ from his 2013 EP ‘Necessary Fiction’ (which is slated for re-release this year) is essential listening. This track also features the talented Sohini Alam from the band ‘Khiyo’ on vocals making it an almost unheard classic that needs to get back to people’s sound systems and make people feel good.
Artist curation by Khan Mohammad Faisal
Words by Fahad Hossain & Khan Mohammad Faisal