Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Amadergaan Interview


I am sorry for being behind in answering the splendid questions that have been sent thus far. To begin with EID MUBARAK to everybody and I am sure you are all chilling out after the celebrations.

To the questions:

ifti69 hi mac, maqsood o' dhaka haven't been able to recapture the magic created by the debut album. following album has not been great, can we expect things to be better with your next project? the song writters who wokred in that first album specially the gentlement from kolkata, any chance having him on board for the next project?

To be frank, I do not make music consciously to create any kind of 'magic' at all. If there is any 'magic' that my listeners have found the credit lies with their immense sense of appreciation of good music. I am blessed with their love.

It has however been my life long dream and aspiration to create music which would be of very high standard - all too often an artist perhaps outstrips the listener's expectations and it results in situation which is very difficult to explain. I guess I have reached that seminal point in my musical career, and cant think of music which will lead me to step back. For me FORWARD and Fast Forward is really the way about. It does burn me up mentally - but this is one life so what the heck!

I believe one of the finest album that myself and dHAKA recorded till date is "Ogo Bhalobasha" in 1999. Unfortunately it was in the jazz-rock fusion genre, an art form which is quite difficult to master, and it is no surprise that many have not even heard that album. (If we take a vote in AG - I am sure only a dozen may have heard it..or worse heard about it).

However it is the public record of my dream - fusion for the new millenium, before the previous millenium ended, and someday I hope against hope - that it will find due recognition - although it was not designed at all to be a 'popular' album at any rate.

I am a bit confused with the second part of your question. I cannot remember any songwriter from Kolkata that I have collaborated with? Are you referring to Gautam Ghose in Delhi by any chance? He was not a songwriter in the album - but a composer.
Ramna Park: You have mentioned several times that both Feedback and Maqsood O dHAKA have helped bring in new genres into the field of Bangla music. And you've been around for a long time, seeing some of these genres evolve into our culture. So my question to you is, do you think Hip-Hop, R&B, Soul or Rap music will ever find a way into Bangla? If so, how long do you think it will take to evolve?

Good question.

As somebody who is more of a thinking musician and one that has lived his life on experimentation, it is my firm belief that just about any so-called 'western music' form, can and will blend with Bengalee music. Having said that, I think it also becomes very important that all these fusion's are blended with some degree of knowledge of both forms, as otherwise its like blending water with oil - and the results may end up to be too frustrating, too catastrophic.

That aside, let us also consider where we are going to possibly target Hip-Hop, Soul, Rap or even R&B?

The only outlet for listeners in Bangladesh that exists today is either at home with a couple of friends while addafying - or maybe a concert, or one or too oddly (sometimes badly) made videos in one of the many TV channels - then its all zilch from there on.

For Rap, and specially Hip-Hop to survive, we have got to understand its dynamics; these are dance music and without a whole lot of discotheque coming up all across the country, I cant really see it prospering. So end line - we must develop this culture of going out to discos and letting our sweat and hair down (a handful of 'head bangers' wont do the trick!) - more partying and more attitudes to go along. Rap and Hip-Hop without an attitude is like listening to Asif doing a Ayub Bacchu-esqe 'rock' tune!

Black Dog: mac,i believe many of your fans like me will agree with me if i say maqsood o dhaka hasn't been able to connect to the general mass of bd like the way feedback did in the late 80's and throughout the 90's. we felt bangali when we sang songs like melai jaire. moushumi could be the girl next door. bongobdo 1400 shaal album talked about our life in such a way that we could easly relate to the songs. we need bands like feedback in the new millennium with new style of music without losing the ability to connect to the average people. do you think maqsood o dhaka can do that? or do you have any plan to take this band in that direction? or do you think it's the different style of music of maqsood o dhaka that cannot be taken in that direction?
Ah.....another walk down memory lane!

I really think that we all fall into this very 'elitist' trap when we talk about the masses. It's a tough job 'connecting' when we really do not have a clue as to how the masses think, what they want and importantly are they game to the kind of music we produce? There is simply no easy answer to those questions - so any musician will allow his emotions to flow as and when time and space dictates. Time again is the connection between events over a specified period of time.

Amazing as this may sound whenever anybody refers to Moushumi 1- we are actually talking about events as in 1987 almost 16 years back. Moushumi-2 and Mela on the other hand are from 1990 - 14 years back, and Bangabda 1400 is exactly 10 and a half years old.

The real problem (and it is a very personal problem) is I have never ever repeated anything twice in my life. The easiest thing for me would have been to do many more Mela like songs. Imagine a band like MILES has probably half a dozen recreation of Chand Tara Shurjoe, and even this Eid their latest song sounded to me, pretty much like Jaala Jaala from years back.

That being the case, it is important to assess the second part of your question as how to connect to 'average people' out there. The truth is 'average people' are led by musicians and not the other way around. It is important that we create examples for others to emulate - rather that deciding to go down and cater to their taste or whatever. The shock really is 'average people' wake up a bit too late to what has just passed by. Arguably way back in 1987 nobody was very appreciative of Moushumi and it wasn't until 1995-96 that Mela became the phenomenon it is today.

So the real bottom line is musicians should aim to create new taste and direct ways to the shift time and tides lead us to. They should be able to predict the course of the tide, and the worst thing to do is to go with the flow - doing whatever suits the 'market' or climbing on the 'low bandwagon' to sell a couple of million album - with Biplob of Prometheus being a perfect example. It's very hard to climb up stairs - but to go down and eventually OUT is so easy - ain't it?

"Bauliana" in 1996 after "Bangabda 1400" in 1994 was a shock to the audience. But lets face it squarely, I did and could see the revolution that is possible by delving deep into our folk roots (and I had chosen only one - Baul music- there are more than 200 forms still on offer)- the music of 90% of our 'average people'.

While "Bauliana" was lapped up in rural Bangladesh, Feedback audience reserved the tastiest of galaa galiiz for me. But look at the folk fusion revolution we have today specially ex 2000?

In a very small way, I am proud that I had shown the way, to the immensity of my purpose. It doesn't matter to me whether "Bauliana" as an album of a certain pagol by the name of Mac is remembered or not and for what he has done - the success of folk music today is indicator that if we are going to be talking about the masses - we have to start admitting that we may only belong to them though our commitments and our actions. My commitment always was to the masses - never the elite, which albeit I am a part of --- most reluctantly.

Black Dog: another question: why did you associate your name to your band "maqsood o dhaka" if the band wants anonymity and not much media glare?

I guess I have answered this some months back on this forum.

Many underground bands have the name of the bandleader or front man and dHAKA is more a movement than just playing music and making a name and fortune. It is an evolving process and the name maqsood means I am the one responsible for the lyrics, contents and everything to go with the album. It is in a way absolving the rest of my band members from responsibility and was done before "Nishiddho" was released, when it became clear that I might be arrested for my no-nonsense lyrics and get in trouble with the law. It was a fair thing to do, because I do not expect the rest in my pack to be singled out for any 'crime' I might do/or have done though music?

Dead_Man_Rollin Dead_Man_Rollin: 1. Can you give us any update on ex-Feedback members Salim Haider and Romel? Are they still into music? Do you have any plan to use them in any of your future projects?

Salim Haider lives and works here in Dhaka as a session musician and does gigs with Runa Laila abroad. We are still friends but don't - or can't work together.

Rommell I am told lives in Florida. I haven't seen or heard from him in 15 years or more.
2. Do you think Underground bands will ever be able to create an impact on the mass market? That is, will listeners of Asif, Prometheus, Nogor Baul, etc. ever appreciate the music of Artcell, dHAKA, Cryptic Fate, etc.?

About the underground bands I think what is important is that they hang in there and do whatever they must do without even thinking where the future will lead them on. They are doing very high-class music and I wish them all the luck and best wishes. They are far more talented than any of us so-called established mainstream musicians were when we were their age. The talent and technology pool exists and all they need to do is keep at it and THINGS ARE BOUND TO CHANGE. I mean there has got to be an END to bad music.

Like it or not musicians like Asif, Prometheus and Nagar Baul will always have the kind of audience they have and being respectful to their taste rather than being disrespectful - is the way forward. Where I think the UG's will make a huge dent is when they come out with what is called a 'crossover' hit. Just one or a couple of songs which appeals to all - and if they try hard enough, I believe it is achievable and they will achieve it.

On the flip side it was nice to have a long chat with the dudes in Artcell about jazz recently and my sincerest feeling is - going as hard as they are with rock - it is only natural that sooner or latter they will move to jazz (which historically was where rock actually emerged from), and I look forward to more chords, more variations and more improvisations, that I really don't from many mainstream acts.

kaiser_501: Do u think attire (like u guyz are always wearing everything the stage, in photos bla bla bla) is important for a band ? Do u think this type of thing helps in increasing the confidence level. Like once A. Bachchu somewhere mentioned that, the ornaments he wear boost up his confidence.

I really don't know what Bacchu meant - but if what you are saying is TRUE, it does seems he needs something more that music to give him confidence. With all due respects to Bacchu, really this is being superstitious and anything a musician can be - if he is superstitious and needs something to give him CONFIDENCE means he LACKS CONFIDENCE ...which is such a shame. I don't know how one can even dare make music without being confident.

As far as attires are concerned - musicians ought to wear what makes them comfortable. It doesn't matter what it is - for importantly at any given period a musician is judged by the quality of the music he makes - NOT by the dresses he/she wears. Imagine somebody like Robi Chowdhury and his multi-colored suits and tuxedos!! Does it make him very popular?
As u kno there are many artists, who dont have any academic/Ostad-emic qualification in Music, nor they dont have any idea bout the music history/background....but anyhow they are doing good. How do u define/explain this thing.
I fall into this category: as of date I remain a non-academic, non-Ostad-emic - and completely an illiterate musician who doesn't even know the names of the chords or any of the notes he is singing! No one believes me when I say it - BUT THAT'S THE TRUTH GUYS!

Okay - there is no easy way to explain this - but there are many musicians who have done very well for themselves without even knowing anything about music. Jim Morrison from Doors for instance.

I believe it has more to do with how much one believes, has the faith and respect that is required to create good music - everything else, kinda falls into place - I dunno!

Auvi21: 1. what is so far your best achievement ?

None whatsoever

2. wanna start working on Rabindrasangeet again?

Surely someday - and don't ask me when!

3. have other artists in bd influenced you anyhow ? if yes then how ?

A whole lot of Bauls whose name won't mean anything to you guys because they are not famous neither would you be interested in their songs. My life turned around a 160 degrees in my eight years of direct association with these great men and women musicians of Bangladesh.

4. what is your fav song among your own songs ?

"Ogo Bhalobasha" and "Hey Probonchhona"

5. wanna start a jazz band ?

dHAKA is a jazz band!

Joy be yours, Peace, Love and Tranquility.

Jah Bauliana


First published 18/11/2004