Image of Sunara playing at Pettah Interchange in Colombo. Image credit Malaka MP
Old-timey incarnations of record labels — glitz, glamour, big money and big exploitation — are great to watch in movies, but their relevance has diminished over the past two decades. The music industry, internationally, is in a perpetual state of rebuild. And so new ways forward emerge from time to time.
In South Asia, the young, independent, non-film music communities — the ones with roots in traditional western sounds — remain on the fringes of the mainstream, if at all. They’ve grown almost as countercultures, gradually finding some footing in the culture space of the region over the past decade or so, through dedicated ground work by artists and industry-persons. In such an environment, record labels no longer play traditional roles. Instead, there’s a coexistence of multiple bespoke approaches. What we get, really, are collectives — organisations that, depending on their scale and the interests of the people involved — work within loosely defined capacities within the industry. …
Siaminium – Image Courtesy of Rishova Hayat
The last few years in Bangladesh have seen rapid economic success; the cost of which seems to drown under the voices of the people and the many problems on the ground; however artists continue to take a stance and speak through the language of music.
Image: Box III performs freestyle over beats by Space/Ghost – Ghurni: beats/verses, at Jatra Biroti / Image Credit: Siam
It’s a strange scenario, really. It is important to position this article in the current climate of arts, new media, and technology in the country if we are to critically explore how audio technology is learned and practiced in Dhaka. As we enter the new decade, Bangladesh the state, has probably never been more excited about ‘development’- economic, digital, and infrastructural – although there is much debate about how much of it really addresses the needs of the people and our ecologies. However, for the sake of this article, my interest lies in the growing practices and markets for audio technology and new media in the country, and where the largest gaps remain for artists, practitioners, and newcomers to this evolving entertainment-scape.
Image credit: Nafis, no_name_face
“Here, in this land of equality, black and white are not buried in separate graveyards; nor do black and white pray in separate rooms and churches. There are no conflicting religions, no cacophony of conflicting scriptures. The priest and the padre, the mullah and the monk, drink water from the same glass here,” wrote Kazi Nazrul Islam — a Bengali poet, writer, musician and anti-colonial revolutionary in his poem ‘Samya’ (equality), “I sing the song of equality, of a country where fresh joy blossoms in every heart, and new life springs in every face. Friend, there is no king or subject here. No differences of rich and poor.”
Left – Pulpy Shilpy (image credit -Ron Bezbaruah) / right – no_name_face (image credit – Nafis Ahmed)
The Border Movement Residency project has worked with over 15 producers and musicians since its launch in 2015 – creating unique experiences tailored around the individual needs of the participating artists. The aim of the program has always been to create meaningful and relevant creative exchanges between musicians in South Asia and Germany.
Image credit: Daniel Arthur Panjwaneey
Applications for Border Movement Residency (BMR) Berlin 2018 – a unique 2 month tailor made program for musicians from South Asia are now open.
Image courtesy: Consolidate
Independent record labels and DIY culture have made it possible for many artists across the globe to get their music to a wide section of listeners. While it may not necessarily be a profit making venture at first, there is something hugely rewarding and futuristic about the ability to nurture fresh talent without jeopordising creative freedom; a huge contrast to the former model where big record labels called the shots. There are a number of small and active record labels all over South Asia who are supporting artists and consistently releasing good music. We compiled a list of labels based in South Asia that reflect the beauty of a DIY approach.
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 has been particularly active in Dhaka. Not only is there tremendous variety among the work that has been put out, but the promising thing is the direction and approach the cities music producers have taken at large. Here’s a look at some of the releases that have particularly made a mark from Dhaka, other Bangladeshi cities and borders not so far away: …
Akaliko Records’ latest release ‘Translations’ is a journey for me. The playlist is a smorgasbord of sounds that tell stories that range from forays into space, dives into infinite depths and contemplations of the inner self. Composed of artists new and seasoned, ‘Translations’ is not flavored with the usual electronica fusion elements. …