“Music is not what I do it is who I am”
Chowdhury Shakib, front man of Cryptic Fate and member of The Watson Brothers have been actively involved with the music scenario of Bangladesh for over 10 years. Being an enthusiast of the 'underground' music arena, he has always encouraged and helped new bands in promotion.
RS: You've been actively involved with the underground music scene for years. What are your views on current underground bands?
Shakib: We have a thriving underground scene and it's good for the future of rock music in Bangladesh. Previously, there were limited numbers of listeners and a limited number of bands, but now with the growth of an underground scenario, kids from Gulshan and Baridhara (who didn't listen to Bangla music or local bands before) are hearing these bands out. With such a fast-moving music scene, it is easier for young musicians to get noticed. As is usual when a trend develops, we have some bands who are in it for the wrong reasons namely for impressing their girlfriends and their friends instead of doing serious music.
RS: I agree. New bands are popping out every other day. If someone who listens to music is rich enough to buy a guitar, he simply does it, downloads guitar tabs and plays covers. How bad is that?
Shakib: True. <*concerned*> You can buy a guitar and record in your house, which in a way is great. This makes recording albums easier, but it's never quite upto the mark so it's basically a waste of their time. Most people do not realize there is a fine line between a musician and a music lover. For example, most of us love watching movies. But if we start making movies since we love them so much, we'll never be able to make quality films and the market will be flooded with terrible movies. Only a real, passionate filmmaker can make a decent movie. The same rules apply for music. Most of these young musicians are music-lovers and don't quite have what it takes to be a musician. It's like jumping into the water before learning to swim.
RS: What would you advise these new musicians to do?
Shakib: New musicians should listen to more music, try harder, practice more, be patient and have a passion for music. They have to realize that the bar has been raised by bands such as Aurthohin, Artcell, Black and Nemesis, so it's much tougher now to impress people than it was 6 years ago.
RS: Several of these bands develop internal rivalry even before they get up on stage to perform. What are your views on that?
Shakib: Rivalries between bands have existed for a long time. Earlier, when Rockstrata was the happening band, their fans wouldn't let other bands like Warfaze to go on stage and perform. That's 'rivalry' as far as the crowd is concerned. But rivalry between the bands is quite unhealthy. We have to make efforts to be friendly with fellow musicians. The friendship between the ABC bands is really good, so I don't really know why all these bands have trouble with each other. Cryptic Fate has been playing shows since 1997 but we've never had any trouble with anyone.
RS: Several newer bands complain that they don't get enough exposure because they don't have contacts. To what extent is this true?
Shakib: Bands cannot complain about contacts. Contacts are necessary everywhere, not just in music. But it's important to remember that if you make good music, you will eventually get noticed. You have to learn to be patient and compare your work with what you listen to. There's no point in performing low-quality music that everyone is laughing at except your friends. Musicians like Sumon Bhai, Khaled Bhai, myself and others aren't sitting with our ears closed. If you are a quality musician, you are bound to get heard and we are willing to promote you.
RS: What about people who don't come from privileged backgrounds, but still listen to good music and would like to pursue it further?
Shakib: Such people should get some rich friends who can afford the gear and discover music with them <*laughs*>. They can also play at clubs or gaye holuds. Music pays for itself. That's one good thing about it! We're aiming to build a scene where at least the music pays for itself, as in, the album sales pay for the recording charge and the band remuneration. If you're meant to be a musician, you'll just be one! If anybody considers being a musician by scaling its prospects, then that person doesn't even belong to the music scene. For me, music is very personal and the outside world neither encourages nor discourages me in pursuing it. Like I say, “Music is not what I do it is who I am.”
RS: Does Bangladesh provide any prospective market for a career based on music?
Shakib: When it comes to doing the kinds of music that we do, such as Artcell, Aurthohin, Cryptic Fate and Black, then frankly speaking, there is little prospect in Bangladesh. It hasn't yet developed an acceptable market for 'our' kind of music. However, if you're genuinely interested in basing your life on music, then you can do what Ornob did. Explore other aspects of music, such as sound engineering, mastering, mixing, and making videos; instead of being a full-time musician. In this way, you can always stay connected with music and have financial security, at the same time, doing something that you find exciting.
RS: How has the year 2006 been for the non-mainstream music scene?
Shakib: At the end of the year, I am satisfied with the things that happened in the music scene. Bangla's album, Artcell's 'Aniket Prantor', Cryptic Fate's 'Danob', Yaatri's 'Daak', Ornob's 'Hok Kolorob' all were good albums. Out of the new bands that have released albums, I found Scarecrow's album very interesting. Although it's a bit raw and suffers from ordinary production values, the band tried to create a blend between classical and modern metal and really stayed away from the overused '80s clichés.
RS: Now coming to your bands, Cryptic Fate (CF) and The Watson Brothers (TWB). Tell us about them.
Shakib: Cryptic Fate dates back to 1993, when we were in Scholastica and decided to form a heavy metal band. Over the years and through many difficulties, CF has managed to hold itself together simply on luck and we feel great about it. CF's influences come from Megadeth, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne and such, but we hope that our music is sufficiently different. The Watson Brothers has always been a side-project for me. I met Arafat and Imran when they were in The Attempted Band. It broke up in 1999 and later, Arafat, Imran, Farhan (who joined later) and me formed The Watson Brothers. Around 2002, we decided to release a rock album and that's how 'Ohom' came into the picture. I'm not currently involved with TWB as it's difficult for me to write and sing for two bands at the same time, but I will be back with them when I want to do rock music.
By Shabnaz Rashid Diya
Disability is ability
Have you read or heard about Hellen Keller? For the uninformed, Hellen Keller was a young deaf and blind lady who devoted her life to teaching Braille to other blind people. How could a person who did not know about life surrounding her, read and communicate so well? It all had to do with self-discipline…and of course the compassion of her teacher and mother.
It is obvious that all of the people who are reading this article are not blind so I will talk about those of you are physically challenged in some other way.
When you are physically challenged, do you feel the kind of pity you get from people when they get to know about your disability? Do they come forward and help you solve a problem just because you might not be able to do it? Is your disability really a disadvantage? I am not sure if those who are considered physically 'normal' have much of the ability and will power that you have. Just because you do not have hands, doesn't mean you will never be able to change your dress or feed yourself. There are countless numbers of inspiring stories of persons who have overcome their disability and use any last remaining body parts to do their job. A particularly inspirational story is that of a young 20-year-old mother who lost her arms in a car calamity. From that time onwards, she was determined not to take help from anyone else to do her daily job. Her belongings and households were kept in such a way, so that she could easily do her jobs using only her feet. Starting from changing her young boy's diapers, to changing clothes herself and writing with her feet, this young lady could do everything and anything a normal human being would do.
The stories above were foreign; if you want some inspiring stories from right here in Bangladesh, just visit CRP (Center for Rehabilitation of Paralyzed) in Savar. There you will see how hard it really is to have paralyzed limbs. Overcoming this situation, I have seen a totally paralyzed worker in CRP using just his mouth to do the office work. He had handwriting better than mine and was quickly scribbling away his notes. As much as it was heart-wrenching, it was inspiring and it showed me the new way of life and made me thankful for what I have and pushed me forward to utilize the best of what I had. I personally recommend each and every one of you reading this article should visit and stay at CRP for a week and realize that humans are darn unstoppable and that God is great!
To sum it all up, if you are disabled in some way, don't let others pity you. Try and try harder until you find a way to achieve what you want. If you have a pair of limbs, utilize them to the best. If you are partially deaf, utilize your concentration to achieve. If you are blind and someone else is reading this to you, then learn Braille. You are as much able as any other person alive. You have the willpower to achieve and become what you want to be. Yes, it is a tough journey through learning, but worth the try.
By Shamma Manzoor Raghib
“How bad can the political parties be in your country?”
The recent political crisis in Bangladesh is, by no doubt, one of the 'hot news' around the world that has made headlines in most international newspapers, and has also made its appearance in wikipedia. Almost everyday I receive numerous e-mails from many of my international friends asking queries and comments regarding the recent turmoil. Many of them had planned to go to Bangladesh this winter to do an internship with Grameen after the noble peace prize was awarded to Prof. Yunus. However, most of them cancelled their visit after hearing about the intense political turmoil going on in the country.
Even a few of my professors here in the US are troubled and concerned about the state of the country. Several political science courses in various universities in the US are doing case studies on our country's political degradation, obviously using Bangladesh as a bad example.
Bangladesh is certainly not as 'unknown' to the world around us as we may think. It is known, and is getting known better, but not for any good qualities for the bad ones. Many people all around the world are very aware of what is going on in our country. One of my friends' comments regarding the situation really struck me hard. He said, “How bad can the political parties be in your country?” My question to all the political leaders is of the same context, “How lower do you wish to degrade Bangladesh by your actions?”
By Adnan M. S. Fakir
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