Photo: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
While a touch of the strings and strokes on the black and white reeds speak thousands of words – of generations, people, nature, love and helps one to travel all over the world, the beating of the drums, however, brings you back to life. The drums or the rhythm in any composition maintains the balance and keeps you grounded, as one would say. Most importantly, however, the beats touch your heart, makes you dance and in many cases, inspire lost souls, sometimes, to come back home safely.
It was just a mere dream for Nafeez Al Amin, a professional drummer and musician, also the founder of Beshi Joss Drums, to create his own brands of drums, cajons, snares and other pieces of a drum set and elements required in a percussion set up. Also an assistant professor at the school of business in Daffodil University in Dhaka, Nafeez had to shift to the Ashulia campus to teach – at Daffodil's own campus. "That's when I thought of shifting the small drum making factory that I had started on my rooftop of my family home in Baridhara DOHS to bigger spaces in Ashulia," says Nafeez. Called the Beshi Joss Drums, creating this brand of deshi drums started just a little more than a year ago at a small room on the roof top of Nafeez's home.
A few months ago, Nafeez began to build drums and cajons for fellow musicians and also himself just for fun. "I was not happy with what I bought here and the ones that I would bring from abroad were just too expensive. So I thought to myself, why not just start building sets here on my rooftop?" Nafeez studied (and is still studying!) woodwork and how to make snares – and that too, all from online sources. "I would check out youtube videos and dig out drawings and papers from different expert sources online. I had always been very passionate about music, especially rhythm."
Currently playing drums for the band Arbovirus, Nafeez has been playing with several musicians and bands for more than 15 years. His skills range between the genres of metal to jazz, including Bangla modern compositions as well.
The three-room factory of Beshi Joss Drums, which Nafeez and his assistant Mizan call their 'workshop' is filled with wood of all kinds, collected and bought from Ashulia, Mirpur and other locations. "Oak is the best, especially for the snare," asserts Nafeez, pointing to the newly made snare, just waiting to be ringed and bordered with steel pieces, not to mention the final coat of paint.
Once the wood is cut accordingly and shaped up according to which part of the drums Nafeez is building, workers shift to the next room where the pieces are smoothed using another machine and then finally painted in the third and final room.
"I bought these machines from Tejgaon and other parts of Dhaka," says Nafeez. "From wherever I could, I grabbed on to machines and tools to build my drums."
The name Beshi Joss Drums, says it all. "My drums are all 'beshi joss'!" exclaims Nafeez. Referring to 'excellent' or 'out of this world', the word 'joss' is a colloquial Dhaka term, which has been used in the brand.
Today, Nafeez has sold many drum sets and cajons not only in Bangladesh but also in India, USA, Australia and other countries. "My facebook page is very active and surprisingly many from all over the world send me questions regarding my drum making," adds Nafeez. "Some drummers even send me suggestions which I appreciate very much."
Visiting the Beshi Joss Drums factory in Ashulia was definitely a 'beshi joss' experience! Not only did we get to witness creativity in its best form, but also the fresh air, lakes and papaya trees around. "This is probably the best office ever, don't you think?" asks a smiling Nafeez.