A Tribute to the Legend: Ayub Bachchu

October 18th 2019 marks the one-year death-anniversary of one of the most influential musicians and guitarists of Bangladesh: Ayub Bachchu. On October 19th, a small group of us locals from Ottawa, Canada will be performing in, and executing a live event to celebrate the life and music of this great Bangladeshi music legend at the Kailash Mital Theatre at Carleton University in Ottawa. This will be an evening of live music and anecdotes; performing many popular and crowd-favourite songs by LRB/Bachchu, and sharing fond memories of musical influences and experiences.

This is also going to be a charity concert where all proceeds from ticket sales will be going to The Rudhro Prince Hope Foundation for the purpose of research and cure to Asthma.

The foundation was created by one of our dear community members/friend and his family who have lost their 8-year-old child to Asthma last year.

It is true that Ayub Bachchu and LRB’s music has one way or the other influenced many generations of Bangladeshis of all ages, and has touched us in different ways; whether you are rocking out to songs like Gotokaal Raate, or a broken heart finding comfort in listening to Ferari Mon, or a group friends singing aloud together Cholo Bodley Jai (Shei Tumi) by the campfire.

Our event – “A Tribute to the Legend: Ayub Bachchu” is about remembering these moments, and keeping his music alive, and having loads of fun doing so in the form of a rock show.

Even though cultural programs and musical shows are not uncommon, we are proud to say that this event is going to be the first of its kind in the Ottawa area; where a rock concert of this genre is being arranged and is set to be performed by local Bangladeshis in the Bengali community.  And we are all truly super excited about it. However, it is not without its challenges. Being the first show of its kind poses major challenges like creating exposure, inciting excitement and eagerness, and capturing a target audience.

As of now, the Ottawa Bangladeshi community has been more accustomed to mellow fusion cultural shows exhibiting softer folk music and plays; and we are aiming to bring to life – the side of people that want to let loose, cheer loud, get up and shake and dance, and rock out.

Our small team of organizers (who are also performers) are working tirelessly day and night for months juggling the music practice, marketing, media creation, and ticket sales. We have been working very hard in creating exposure by talking to people through countless phone calls, reaching out to community leaders, and also attending and speaking at the Carleton University Bangladeshi Students Association (CUBSA)’s get-together event in hopes of capturing the young music lovers. So far we have had great responses.

We have even received personalized video messages and well-wishes from a handful of Bangladeshi celebrities addressing our upcoming show. Celebrities who have shared a few words for us include: Fuad Muqtadir (artist of popular “Nitol Paaey”), Bangladeshi rock band Vikings, Rashed Uddin Ahmed Topu (musician, songwriter and composer of the popular band Yaatri), Sabila Nur (television actress and model), Ashfaqul Bari Rumon (Lead guitarist and vocalist of the band Parthibo), Chandan Zaman Ali (lead vocal and guitarist from the band Winning) – all of which videos have been posted and shared on our Facebook event page.

We are very blessed and thankful to have the kind of support we have receiving. And we are looking forward to a successful and more importantly, a very fun show.

About myself

I (Omar Sharif/Duke) will be playing lead guitar in our show. This imposes a lot of pressure on me. By that I mean, I must strive to stay as true as I can to Ayub Bachchu’s music and song compositions. Ayub Bachchu was widely known as a guitar maestro of Bangladesh; and LRB’s songs are composed of a variety of intricate, melodious, and screaming guitar solos. As you can imagine, fans listening to Ayub Bachchu’s songs and going to his shows look forward to his Guitar work and performance; and in some cases, these are the highlights of the songs.

Growing up in Bangladesh as an aspiring guitarist who mostly plays as a hobby, I have been influenced by Ayub Bachchu’s music and guitar playing at many levels; and as a musician, you get to learn a lot from playing and practising LRB songs in improving musical knowledge and guitar skills.

I remember back in Grade 6 when I was maybe 13 or 14 years old, our school (The Aga Khan School) arranged a rock concert to take place in which LRB/Ayub Bachchu was to be one of the headlining bands. And this was before I ever even started playing the guitar. After seeing that show, I immediately went and bought the LRB double album which came out at that time – Bishsho Amader. I used to listen to that album back-to-back so many times and imagine myself playing guitar solos like those. That show really did influence me into wanting to pick up a guitar.
Fast forward another 2 or 3 years, in grade 8, my mother found me a guitar teacher; and I became the “great-grand student” of Ayub Bachchu (my teacher’s teacher’s teacher I believe was the maestro himself). When I was learning to play the guitar, my curriculum even included a couple of LRB songs that were given to me to learn as part of an assignment. One of those songs became one of my all-time-favourite Ayub Bachchu songs; and at this show, I will be proudly performing Ghumonto Shohore.

Later in life priorities changed, I moved to Canada with my family and had to start a whole new life here; and in the midst of it all, Guitar and music became something left and forgotten like a relic. I lost years of practice and interest and my guitar was collecting dust.

I would rarely pick up the guitar and play it once in a while, but nothing that would keep me in practice and keep up my chops, and I hadn’t been on stage in over a decade. Till now, when talks of arranging an Ayub Bachchu tribute concert started, and by word of mouth, when my name came up as a potential performer, I was asked to join. This was a huge motivating factor for me to pick up my guitar again and practice hard to deliver the best performance this show and the musical legend deserves. I am very excited myself, and I am very much looking forward to delivering something even the audience will feel proud of being a part of. 

Our core performers/musicians and Organizers:

In conversation with EIDA

From the ethereal trance of Aurora Dreams to the interstellar realm of Night driver, EIDA has memorialized the fleeting details of everyday life, crafting songs out of the inhibitions of their own lives and the fragments of the world around them.

Sakib Manzur Zihan (lead guitarist), Hassan Munhamanna (song-writer, vocalist), M Samiul Haque (guitarist, vocalist, songwriter), Mohammad Raian Mahbub Rasha (drummer, producer) and Arjo Biswas (bassist) came together in a whirlwind of talent, skill and passion to make up this band that has resonated with many of us.

We sat down with EIDA to get a more in-depth look into the workings and hitches of everything that has set their journey in motion.

What is your inspiration behind starting a band? Did you plan to be in a band from the very beginning?

Almost everyone in the band grew up listening to old Bangladeshi bands, and a lot of inspiration came from their music. That actually helped to keep us all in sync as we experimented with different ideas for our music, and that had been encouraging enough for us to take the leap.

Read more: Looking back at the pioneering bands of Bangladesh

How did the band come together? 

We’ve all had some experience of music with other temporary bands before this. And most of us had performed live before as well. Zihan and Rasha had already worked together as a past band. Samiul knew his way around music production. There weren’t too many hurdles for us to get through. We actually never came together with the intention to form a band, but felt that we gelled well when it came to our taste in music and source of inspiration and so on.

Doing shows underground got us really good feedback and attention. Of course, our taste in music reformed and changed, and soon we wanted to shift to a different direction of music that reflected our own perspective. In the beginning, we wanted to simply see where we could take a possible band in the future. When Samiul was about to leave for abroad, Munhamnna got in touch with him to ask him to spend the last of his days in Dhaka strumming out demos for new song ideas. Zihan just so happened to be visiting him too that day, and we found ourselves playing some really good music together. Rasha joined the band next, he was Zihan’s bandmate before and used to help us during recordings. Arjo is the youngest among us, he has a good experience playing the bass in underground live shows, was a known face, and so we just called him in to play with us one day. And that’s how the band was formed.

What’s the story behind the name of the band?

We wrote our music first. It was when we were taking our song to the studio that we started searching for a name that would suit us. We’re all very simple people and we wanted to be genuine in how we expressed ourselves in our band name. It was during a random conversation between Munhamanna and Samiul, when Munhamanna kept suggesting names asking “eida Kemon” repetitively that Samiul was hit with a light-bulb moment, and took the word eida as a Bengali twist of the actual word ‘eita’ to be our band name. It defines us pretty well actually since we’re people who don’t tend to take ourselves too seriously.

we usually have a great time at the studio, laughing around and whatnot.

What are the most challenging aspects of recording a song? (From the very first idea to the finalizing stage)

We don’t write our songs in the studio, we follow a simple process of sitting together anywhere we can and writing a song. Then we go to a studio and jam out for hours before we get it perfect. We’ve even played overnight to record a single song. We know how different personalities can clash and cause problems sometimes. But since almost everyone’s had past experiences with a band, we’ve all past that stage and understand how to make things work. Rasha is the one who works with the skeleton of the song that we give him, he adds the finishing touches, listens to our input and then sees what works best.

Read more: Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

What was going on in your mind when the band was recording its first song? Did it deliver as per your expectations?

Everyone always has their own take on a song. So we care a lot about getting everyone’s input into the making of a song. For our first song, we went to the studio with a rough draft of our song ‘In the Blind’, but we soon realized it wasn’t working out within the first 2-3 hours. While on a break, we were just lazing around, playing randomly on the guitar, when Samiul started humming a tune. Munhamanna tried to play that tune on the guitar, then Rasha came to add some chords to it. The song suddenly took a definite shape, and we ended up producing the song in 4 hours. And that’s how ‘Aurora Dreams’ came to be. It was truly an out of the world experience.

What genre do you mostly follow for your music? Why?

We don’t really follow a specific genre. Our philosophy is more or less in tune with the underground music world. Artistic integrity is very important and there’s not much inclination towards making commercial music. We always wanted to make good music that’s going to connect with a lot of people. We like to stay within the boundaries of indie, pop and synth-wave. Making music that feels real is our key goal. John Meyer is a huge influence on the type of music we want to make.

What’s your process of writing lyrics?

For almost all songs, Samiul plays the songs first on the guitar, and then tends to hums them before catching ideas for words and phrases that fits the song. He’s very fast at writing the lyrics. Then Munhamanna finishes up the lyric writing. For example, the song “What It Means”, felt like a song about shy people who are unable to express their feelings to Samiul. He communicated the song to Munhamanna who finished the lyrics with that concept in mind. “Nightdriver” has a different backstory to it. For “Nightdriver”, Samiul only worked on the instrumental part and left the lyrics to Munhamanna completely. Even though he tried to take his time to do justice to the tune, he ended up having to rush it on the day we were to record the song, but it all worked out for the best in the end.

The tune of “Nightdriver” gave a feeling of one’s wandering thoughts when stuck in a traffic jam, so that’s what we based the lyrics on. “Aurora Dreams” gave the sense of losing oneself in inspiration while “What It Means” felt like a feeling of love and so on. So more often than not, we start off by sounding out a tune and then sensing the mood of the tune to write the lyrics.

Who’s (or who are) your inspiration as a music artist and why?

There are a lot of inspirations for us, everyone’s influence more or less coincides when it comes to Bangladesh bands; be it Nemesis, Watson Brothers, you name it. We’re pretty much geeks when it comes to those type of music. In case of international music, our tastes can be a little different. Munhamanna and Samiul listen to metal, Zihan listens to grunge and Arjo likes contemporary music. We all like old bands as well, like Blink 182 and Simple Plan.

What do you want to express through your music?

We’re not really ideological. We don’t focus on philosophical or serious topics. We keep things very lighthearted and sing about everyday stuff. The song “Find me”, though, does have a different feel to it. It’s about how you feel as a soul departed towards people you’ve loved and left behind. It’s sombre but not really dark. “Aurora Dreams” on the other hand, has inspirational undertones.

Can you tell us a little about your most recent song: In the Blind?

We realized there was scope to try out making what you will call emo songs in our music. although it’s not really pop it can actually convey relatable emotions pretty well. So when Munhamanna asked Samiul to see if we can make music along this line, Samiul came up with some lyrics to go with this genre. The song is about how love fades away, simply put. It is a Cliché, but it’s something people can connect to.

Are there any stories from behind the scenes, or during recording. What are your most memorable moments?

Arjo takes the cake here. He’s a weird but talented kid. And he definitely brings a weird perspective to our group. We even keep a list of weird things Arjo says. But we’re all people with a good sense of humor, and share a love for comedy. So we usually have a great time at the studio, laughing around and whatnot.

As you’re going on hiatus, what can your fans expect from you in the future?

Well, as we all know, Samiul is leaving soon. And we are too attached to our current coordination to try anything else with this band. We do have other songs drafted but we’re not going to plan live shows without the whole group. We’re taking a break now for a few months but may release the drafted songs online in the future. And there may be an indie documentary with studio footage in the works.

Co-Authored by Rafid Zaman and Mashiyat Iqbal.

Read more: 5 relatively underrated musicians you should try

5 relatively underrated musicians you should try

Music is a soothing aspect of almost everyone’s life. It can be anything one needs at any point in time. A safe haven, a serene escape or a blazing motivator; these are just a few of the things music can be to a person. Discovering music new to one is often one of the greater joys a person can feel at a particular moment. Due to the busy life most of us lead, the magic of discovering music is lost to many. To help you find new music that can speak to your soul, here’s a few recent musicians/bands that might have flown under your radar. 

Read more: Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Eida

Suggested Tracks: Nightdriver, What it means

Eida can no longer be considered underrated. They are a local band, consisting of a few university students with a great collective (and individual) sense of humour; evident by the name. Their music, in simple terms, is akin to modern dream-pop and retro wave with influences from 1975, Gorillaz and even The Strokes.

But from a more curious perspective, Eida’s music is much more. This group of talented musicians are not afraid to experiment and wouldn’t limit themselves to any specific genre. Their tracks invoke a very melancholic mood, and it is well worth giving them a try.

Chitropot

Suggested Tracks: Shondha Hole

Another local group. I found these guys off a random YouTube autoplay. Their music closely resembles fusion, in that they use a curious combination of instruments. But again, you shouldn’t fit things in a box. Very simplistic tone, vocal performance and the sheer emotion make them worth checking out.

Mitski

Suggested: Be the Cowboy (Yes, the entire album)

An American singer-songwriter, Mitski emphasizes creativity and experimentation in her work. Be The Cowboy is her 5th and latest album; she self-released the first two. This album received critical acclaim upon release and sets itself apart from contemporary pop music and music in general. The artist has designed the album with very short tracks, but each track invokes emotion and tries to get a point across. I suggest taking some time with this album, it is truly spectacular.

Oblique

Suggested track: Krishnopokkho, Bhondo

Not much introduction is needed for local Rock band Oblique, after the success of Aloron last year. They have been around since 2007 and are known for their use of unconventional, thought inducing and emotional lyrics. Rumour is that they are about to release a new single. So go ahead and check out their work.

Courtney Barnett

Suggested Track: Need a little time, Sunday Roast

The Australian singer-songwriter has a very loyal following. Her lyrics are embedded with witty humour and delivered with a dry, deadpan singing style. The combination is usually hilarious, emotional and curious at the same time. The best way to describe the emotion her music invokes would be; it encourages you to get to know the singer better. It enforces the need to delve deeper into her work, and that is possibly the best thing any music can do for its creator. Try out her recent album “Tell me how you really feel”, and please do.

Most of the time the reason for detachment to enjoying music is a rut.

All you might need is a little help with getting out of the said rut and finding the joy in music again. So take these musicians as a start to discovering music and musicians again, and let us know about the less known musicians you enjoy.

Looking back at the pioneering bands of Bangladesh

Bangladeshi bands have come a long way since the inception of rock here in the mid to late ’60s. They have transcended generations, musical genres and have firmly made their way into mainstream media. Their incredible popularity among the people of the country can be seen in most music festivals and concerts that are organized here.

Although the younger demographic is the majority to follow such music, there are many acts from older generations that garner a huge fan following to this day.  So we’ll be turning back time, to revisit some of Bangladesh’s earliest and most influential pioneers of band music.

Read more: Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Zinga

Zinga was the first documented musical group of Bangladesh or East Pakistan back then. The band was originally formed in 1963 by a group of young students from Chittagong Government College.  Zinga’s music journey started as an Orchestra Band in Bangladesh which later became the first pop group. The group was the first to incorporate western musical instruments such as Drums, Guitar, Grand Piano, etc. to modernize traditional Bangla Tunes by Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam.

Uchharon

The contribution and legacy of Azam Khan and his band Uchharon is quite unparallel in Bangladesh’s history. He and his band are called the Pioneer of Bangladeshi rock music. Their smash hits such as, ‘rail liner oi bostite’, ‘Alal o Dulal’, and ‘Saleka Maleka’ were huge to the point that they are still regularly getting radio play. Azam Khan passed away on June 2011 from oral cancer.

Souls

Souls was formed in Chittagong in 1972. They are considered as the most important band in Bangladeshi rock and roll. They were influenced by the music of The Beatles. In 1980, they released their debut album Super Souls, which was one of the first albums to be released by a music group in Bangladesh. There are still active to this day and is one of the most popular musical groups in the country.

Rock Strata

Rock Strata was one of the most influential bands to introduce and play heavy metal in Bangladesh. Alongside Warfaze, they have laid the foundation for many to today’s Bangladeshi heavy metal bands. Breaking up shortly after their first album, they reunited and also produce and released their second album on 2014. There are also the first to premier their live concert ‘One Last Live’ at Star Cineplex on September 2018.

The Era of LRB, Arc and Nagar Baul

The ’90s saw a huge boom in terms of great bands and great music being produced here in Bangladesh. And the three rock bands: Ayub Bachchu’s LRB, Jame’s Nagar Baul (formerly Feelings) and Hasan’s Arc, were at the centre of it.

These three uber-successful bands firmly established rock bands into the mainstream media with their immense popularity and were called Bangladesh’s ‘Big three of Rock’.

It’s quite difficult to imagine Bangladesh’s music scene without these three bands.

Read more: Trainwreck: The Bangladeshi metal band that rocked Wacken

Honourable Mention: 

Along with the bands mentioned above, the following bands have also played their part in developing Bangladesh’s music scene. They are The Windy Side of Care, Spondon, Feedback, Miles, Different Touch, Aurthohin, Dalchhut, Warfaze, Cryptic Fate, Black, Artcell, Arbovirus and Nemesis.        

Things you certainly miss from the 2000s

The 2000s were not just a wonderful decade from your old calendar. It was a melting pot of music, movies, fashion, literature (and everything cool) that was deemed unruly but kickstarted a new wave of culture in Bangladesh.

At the turn of the 21st century, globalization was having a massive impact on our life in Dhaka. Yours truly, like any other 90’s kid, have been part of the following things that made us giddy and still aches our heart to go back to the 2000s.

1. CDs

Courtesy: Bangla CD Covers

Before piracy took over the country, the premium medium for listening to music was CD. Compact discs sold like hot cakes prior to the advent of illegal websites like Doridro or Fusionbd.

Tahsan, the famed celebrity was reminiscing about the golden days of physical music on a radio show saying, “This one morning, I got a call from my record label G-series. They congratulated me as my solo album “Krittodasher Nirban” sold out a million copies. They also wanted me to stop by their office to collect the royalty.” You see, people didn’t hesitate to buy music legally. It’s just the internet who interfered and the rest is a tragedy.

2. FM radio

It was 2006 when I was playing around with a gigantic radio. I was rotating the notch in hopes to catch the Bangladesh Betar. But to my utter surprise, I found radio Today, the first 24-hour radio station of the country. The station was running its test transmission. This was the first time I heard the word ‘Radio Jockey’, a jargon unheard of among the millennials of Dhaka. And thank God, the FM stations brought diversity in their playlist unlike Bangladesh Betar and rose to stratospheric popularity.

Soon enough, a couple of other stations joined the cohort and catered audio entertainment to a generation who barely tuned to a radio station beforehand.

Rasel bhai…or Loveguru, anyone?

3. ETV

If you had cable tv subscription at your home in the early 2000s, consider yourself lucky. Ekushey television was launched in 2000. The only open terrestrial channel (other than BTV) became a household name across the country.

Kids and adults who used to nag their parents for dish antenna were soon engrossed in shows produced by the channel. Every drama, telefilm, dubbed series or music videos ETV premiered turned into a cultural phenom.

Who could forget the witty Debashish Biswash hosting ‘Pather Panchali’ or the graceful Ahmed Rubel starring in the horror series ‘Pret’? I used to wait for music video reruns around 6 pm just before I dragged myself for studies. Those were the days!

4. The Underground scene

A new wave of band music was emerging from the underground scene. Limited fanbase and genres which have never been done before by local musicians were prerequisites of the UG movement. Bands like Black, Artcell, Cryptic Fate, Arbovirus and many more notable names became part of this journey and are still going strong with their stellar on stage presence.

Read more: Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Just imagine some kid walking into a CD store to discover the newly released record of Artcell. The fantasy gives me shivers down the spine!

5. Cyber cafe

In the 2000s, a few fortunate people had access to super slow dial-up internet. For the rest of us, we had cyber cafes. Every alley of Dhaka city swarmed with cyber cafes, and I don’t remember any of them serving caffeine drinks of any sort.

The Cybercafe was the place where cubicles were set up for your privacy so that you browse the ‘Yahoo messenger’ era internet for 30 TK/hour.

Raise your hand if you took a friend to a cafe to open your first Facebook account.

6. Landline

Land phones were still relevant in the 2000s. Talking to your friends or significant other was made easier by landlines. People even fell in love with strangers by calling the wrong number in hopes to meet someone of the opposite sex. To have a landline connection, one had to go through seemingly endless paperwork. Can you imagine some govt employee giving you hell because you want to have a landline at your home? Gen Z would be bewildered to hear such fairy tales.

Do you ever feel burned out over all the technological amenities that claim to make our life easier? I certainly do. The list can go on since there was no shortage of awesomeness in the 2000s. Yellow taxi, film camera and Tin Goyenda is just a few other names that still makes us nostalgic.