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

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.        

Trainwreck: The Bangladeshi metal band that rocked Wacken

What a time to be alive for any fans of heavy metal music in Bangladesh. The country’s very own, Trainwreck, has represented Bangladesh at Wacken Open Air 2019.

They are part of the 29 bands from around the world competing in the “Metal Battle”. Metal Battle is the music festival contest for international newcomers. And judging from their performance, it’s safe to say that they have definitively left their mark on the crowd and back here at home.

The long journey

Trainwreck’s journey all the way to the German music festival was not an easy one. They had to overcome several hurdles on their road to Wacken. They were part of a number of bands to send in their demo which saw them take part and win the first Wacken Metal Battle Bangladesh chapter, up against four other supremely talented local bands.

That paved the way for their slot in the “Bangalore Open Air 2019”. With bands from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, the victor would receive the opportunity to perform in Wacken Open Air. After coming out on top, the band got its ticket to Wacken. They started a crowdfunding campaign to fund their trip to Germany. Some of the country’s most popular musical acts such as Shunno, Arbovirus, Mechanix, Powersurge, Owned, Conclusion and our very Tahsan Khan got in on the action, to raise support for the band.

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

Live At Wacken

Anyone who’s been to their local gigs knows what sort of intensity Trainwreck brings to any show with their brand of groove metal. And to see that same energy on Wacken’s history stage with the flag of Bangladesh strapped to A K Rahul’s a guitar was quite unreal. 

The stage or the crowd of wacken did not seem to faze them and they delivered a killer set. They performed four of their own tracks and finished their set with a bang with their mosh-pit inducing “909”.

Abir Ahmed Shuvo, A K Rahul, Ekram Wasi, Habibullah Farhan, and Asif Mahmood, take a bow, you guys have truly outdone yourself. 

Trainwreck is in contention with 29 other bands from all over the globe as the newest international newcomers and five thousand Euros which will be announced at the end of the festival.

This can only be a blessing for our local music community and industry from all genres here in Bangladesh. Hopefully, it’ll also get us to invest in our music scene which was clearly long overdue.  And as for Trainwreck, the sky’s the limit to them right now.  

Nemesis, the band announces an indefinite break

The last Friday of May 2019 comes with sad news for Bangladeshi rock fans. Acclaimed band Nemesis has announced an indefinite break in a Facebook post shortly after mid-noon.

Nemesis’s official Facebook page posted:

“Dear Nemesis Fans,

We would like to let you know that we are going on a break indefinitely and will not be able to perform any shows or take part in any music-related activities for the foreseeable future.

Till then, love from Nemesis! ❤️”

Nemesis debuted their first single, Obocheton in 2003. They rose to prominence in 2004-2005 with the release of their first studio album Onneshon and the subsequent releases of their acclaimed singles Dhushor Bhabma and Joyoddhoni.

With the release of their single Kobe and its music video in 2011, Nemesis took itself to new heights among the rock fans of Bangladesh. Nemesis performed in a number of reputed charity and commercial concerts in the following years.

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

Fans all over the country hope that this retirement is only a temporary one and their favourite band will return to rock the stage in no time.

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Recently, I came across an article stating, “People stop discovering music after 30”. This is a rather downlifting study for many of us. There will never be a shortage of great music. But most often they are unnoticed and dominated by substandard crap. Bangladeshi millennials can boast of the band music scene they have grown up listening since the 2000s. Speaking of, have we given due attention to the bands who rightfully deserved it?

Read more: Not just a clone: the Imagine Radio Story

Making a career as a band musician is hard in Bangladesh. Many promising bands have shown their potential but eventually gravitated towards other professions. Apparently making music can barely pay your bills. So this article is a homage to the bands who have shown tremendous musicianship but faded out of the scene. Some of them went abroad, others are inactive…or subject to typical rockstar feud.

Icons

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Icons is an alternative rock band who released their debut album Ishshoronio in 2005. Before landing a studio album deal with G-series, Icons made quite a name through various mixed albums. Yours truly still fantasizes about their reunion show…maybe in the distant future.

Notable tracks: Oporanho, Ishshoronio, Neon

Read more: Sodium Batir Gaan – changing the culture of open air music

Vibe

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

If I could resurrect one band from dormancy, it would be VIBE. This alternative/heavy metal band created a lot of buzz when their album ‘Chena Jogot’ hit the market in 2007. I remember my peers complimenting about Vibe by saying, “they could be the next Artcell!”. Let’s not go into comparison because Vibe have created a sound of their own. Please come back, we need you!

Notable tracks: Shesher opashe, Nostalgia, Shopnodeb

Read more: Bangladeshi graphic novels: 5 essential reads

The Watson Brothers

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Cryptic Fate and The Attempted Band, two bands that varied in genre, got together to form ‘The Watson Brothers’. Thankfully, the chemistry worked very well. In 2003, TWB released their album “Ohom”. The band may not be around anymore, but their songs are actively performed by Cryptic Fate (which is a relief).

Notable tracks: Rong, Akash, Ohom

Minerva

Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

Minerva came into limelight with their epic medley of 19 minutes (A tribute to Bangladeshi bands). It transcended every frontier of awesomeness that to call it a cover will be an understatement. But the groove metal band have cemented their position in the music scene with their debut album “Biday Shongbidhan” (2013). The band has been inactive for quite a while. We can only hope their comeback with this year’s Rocknation.

Notable tracks: Ashirbaad, Jaatra, Mrittur Shesh Choy

These artists attest to the fact “Quality matters, not quantity”.

The mentioned bands gave us priceless music. The only thing we demand from them is a reunion gig.

Remember, hope is a great thing!

Watch: Zamor, a Bangladeshi in the French Revolution

(Album artworks featured in this article are courtesy of banglacdcovers.blogspot.com. Head over to their blog to see hi-res scanned image of old, new and rare CD covers)

Not just a clone: the Imagine Radio Story

It has been more than a full decade since Spotify revolutionized the music streaming industry, through their responsive app and it’s intuitive and intelligent A.I. Ever since, there have been no shortages of attempted replication of their success. Most of these have failed for one reason or another. We’ve had a couple of that right here in Bangladesh with Grameenphone and Robi attempting to launch their own music streaming apps. It’s safe to say they didn’t exactly catch the imagination of the intended audience as much as they had hoped.  So, the first impression of the average person of Imagine Radio is probably”Oh, another Spotify copycat.” But is it actually?

How Imagine Radio works

Firstly, the average Bangladeshi listener isn’t really familiar with the concept of Royalty fees or purchasing songs. Therefore the artists don’t receive the returns they deserve on the effort put into each song. In addition, it’s difficult for new bands to arrange record deals. Imagine Radio aims to give the artists a platform to distribute their songs directly to the audience. They boast a large selection, more than 10 million tracks of both local and international music, and plan to expand on the collection in the near future. Local artists will be paid a royalty fee for their songs on the app, which will be somewhat popularity oriented. The more popular a song is on the app, the larger the amount of royalty paid.

It will have unique features for musicians like per stream royalty, dedicated dashboards, audience analytics and marketing services. All of these services will be free. For the customers, Imagine radio will have custom made playlists targeted at specific moods, time periods and even the weather. It will also have a live aspect to it, as a selection of music will be played throughout the day on the app, sort of like a radio show. Many prominent musicians and bands like Nemesis, Feedback, Bappa Mozumder and Elita Karim have endorsed the app. And the general audience waits with bated breath for the app to reach the high potential it promises.

Does the model work in Bangladesh?

The point might be made that Mobile operators of our country tried a similar thing with GP Music and Robi/Airtel Yonder. And those weren’t the biggest hits. So is there really a demand for such an app in Bangladesh? If so, how can Imagine Radio hope to fill that demand where many others couldn’t?

There is certainly a demand for such a service in Bangladesh, as Spotify isn’t available here unless you own a premium account you made in another country. Music lovers clamor for an all-in-one music service like Spotify, and it is difficult to access it here. I spoke to an executive in Imagine Radio’s creative team, and he was of the belief that Grameenphone and Robi targeted too average a market to target their product at. They tried to generalize the market, which made for fewer opportunities for personal profiling. Imagine Radio targets a niche, urban social market. They mainly target the behavioral segment of the urban youth. In addition, they aim to have highly customizable profiles for each individual. No two people will have the exact same experience with the app, as it is oriented to make your experience as suited for you as possible. It is also to be mentioned that GP Music and Yonder tried to make the music platform very contained and partitioned. You needed a Grameenphone SIM to have access to GP Music and its contents, the same for Robi. The people at Imagine Radio hold the belief that music should be free. They want to spread music universally, without constraints. These things set them apart from their predecessors.

How is Imagine Radio any different?

It becomes important to separate your product from the one yours is often compared with. The fact remains that some people in Bangladesh still do use Spotify, with some form of workaround in play. Imagine Radio attempts to differentiate itself from Spotify in two key ways. Spotify doesn’t really evaluate Bangladesh as a potential market, hence it not being available here. Imagine Radio wants to make Bangladesh its primary target, with the added goals of distributing local music over the world and bringing international music here. In addition, opposed to Spotify’s AI generated playlist creation, the people at Imagine Radio believe something as subjective and emotional as music needs a human touch. As such, most of their available playlists are custom made by music enthusiasts and experts, adding a more personal touch to the product they offer. This also adds opportunites for targeting very specific and nuanced needs.

For example, they have a custom-made playlist for when one is stuck in traffic, as we tend to do that quite a lot. This is not to say that Imagine Radio execs do not acknowledge the need for an AI and a functional algorithm. In fact, they plan to implement an AI which will have twice as many information points as Spotify’s 6-8 to target specific moods, times, weather and other nuances. This also adds layers of content curation to their live aspect. The bottom line is Imagine Radio offers an intensely personal experience through their app, where you can listen to music curated to fit your every mood; be it uplifting music on the weekends or sad on a Sunday morning.

The ultimate goal

As stated by a representative, Imagine Radio is intended to be a cause driven project with two specific goals in mind in order to help Bangladeshi music. They want to spread Bangla music universally, and they want to create a platform for music and for musicians. It’s safe to assume a person from a foreign country won’t exactly go looking for Bangla music, so Imagine Radio brings the music to them. As mentioned before, they have adopted a very fair and rewarding royalty model for local artists. This serves to encourage the production of good music in Bangladesh greatly, as it is a convenient way to distribute music legally. Artists may choose to release new singles or albums through Imagine Radio as well. For International music, they use a third party distributor to stream quality music legally.

Imagine Radio adopts a Freemium model, according to the International standard unit. The free version has all the features of the app, while a premium version is set to be released over the next three quarters which will be free of ads and will contain other premium features. As of right now, their primary source of income is ad revenue.

Sounds promising!

In addition to the many music features and personalized experiences, Imagine Radio has a formidable line-up of podcasts and specials lined up; 14-15 of them in fact. They have held a Freddie Mercury special, hosting the late great Queen front’s best performances, his inspirations and parts of his story. They have a similar program called Legacy of Rock coming soon. It will be a 90-minute program with a host, with 10 minutes of the host explaining the story and background of the track to be played and music to fill the rest of the time slot. They look to adopt a “song and the story behind it” formula for some of these specials, which sounds very interesting to me. In conclusion, Imagine Radio holds an inconceivable amount of promise. And we look forward to it reaching the great heights it strives for.