Kaal is a rising band from Dhaka University band scenario. From the beginning they have focused on their compositions and have always performed their own tracks. Having a number of compositions they have released their debut track this year in January. This promising band has been highly praised at Heem Utshab in Jahangirnagar University where they performed along with several other bands. What’s interesting about them is the members are from different places of the country but their philosophy brought them together. Current lineup of the band includes- Himadri Bapon (vocal n guitar), Imran Khan (guitar n back vocals), Mahtab Dip (Bass), Mohammad Fahim (drums), Joy Goswami (guest keyboardist), Dip Dipankar (guest bassist), Ali Akber Shuvo (manager).
In this quarantine interview find out more about the band’s philosophy, struggle, memories and views about music.
1. What are you guys mostly doing in Quarantine? Is anything being cooked for the audience?
Bapon: Yes, we’re trying to create more music, reshaping the other unreleased compositions, adding new elements to the unreleased ones and practicing more and more. Due to the pandemic, of course everything has been postponed. And keeping that in mind we’re planning to reorganize our works properly. And yes, new songs are being created. In fact, one song is already completed and waiting to get released.
Imran: Experimenting new things, trying to reshape the unfinished compositions and reorganizing our plans ahead for the band.
Fahim: Practicing a lot so that the next studio works can be done flawlessly.
Dip: Nothing much. Practicing the baseline for the new songs and staying at home.
Shuvo: Being the non-musician part of the band, my quarantine is pretty much boring. I’m doing some online studies and practicing guitar lately. That’s pretty much it. Yes, I’m an amateur guitar player.
2. When and how did you get to form the band?
KAAL: Bapon, the vocalist of the band, had a long-cherished dream of creating a band and he chose the name back then. At that time Bapon was involved with another band where he met Dip. Soon after leaving that band Bapon started thinking about lining up his own band. He met Badhon who he agreed to take the bass. Dip was on the rhythm guitar back then. Kaal’s first practice session took place on 24th April, 2017. Bapon on vocal and guitar, Badhon on bass, Dip on rhythm guitar and Jony on drums.
In the first two sessions Kaal composed ‘Pathor Chapa Smriti’ and in the next two sessions ‘Chhaya’. But Jonny had to leave the band for his personal issues. And because of the other members’ personal works and stuff, the dream-band didn’t progress much. Everything got delayed for a while but the dream was still alive.
In November, 2018, Bapon met Imran. Coming back to Dhaka from Chittagong, the vibe went so well that they finished composing 12 songs in just a matter of time. Then Badhon came back on bass guitar, Imran Hossain joined as the manager. Kaal had its first live at an acoustic session on Radio Dhol. On Kaal’s first outdoor live show in Manikganj, Moshiur was on the Drums. Shuvo joined as the event manager since that show. Then Imran (lead guitarist) introduced Fahim to the band. Fahim happened to be his ex-bandmate who is a drummer. After practicing for a while with the band, he finally joined Kaal. Dip took up the bass guitar then. Two months prior to studio recording, Badhon left the band. Then Kaal recorded the first song ‘Kritoggota’ having Dipankar on bass guitar and Joy on Keyboard. These two persons have always encouraged Kaal and worked with us too. In future we’re going to work together as well. After releasing ‘Kritoggota’ Dip joined as the permanent bassist. This is pretty much it…
3. Every band has its own philosophy, Why is the band called Kaal, what’s the story behind the title?
KAAL: We have sorrows and depression in our life. The light comes eliminating the darkness. Everyone talks either of the darkness or the light. But no one really shows us the path of crossing the darkness to walk towards the light. Kaal shows that path. The aura emerging from that darkness is Kaal. And that’s basically the philosophy of Kaal.
There’s no fancy wonder story behind choosing the name. Bapon chose the name from his life experiences. Everyone else seemed to like it. So we started working with this name. So Kaal is basically our dream project and the songs are the experiences we faced in our lives. And through our songs we want to communicate with the audiences hoping they can relate too.
4. Do you think, nowadays it’s important for a band to make its mark in mainstream media to reach large number of audiences?
KAAL: Yes, nowadays media support is important for almost everything. Social media, electronic media, print media whichever you name, using all of these are important. A band from Dhaka is not meant for just the people of Dhaka. It’s for the whole country. But we are mostly on social media. People all over country do not have easy access to the internet. Again there is scarcity of specialized media platform that focuses on music only.
If we don’t take the help of mainstream media people outside of Dhaka will hardy listen to us or know about us. So we’re to lose potential audience.
We know, we can’t really expect to earn much money doing music in this country but as musicians the least we can expect is, the audience will listen to our songs and know about us. So yes, being on mainstream media and taking their support is a must we believe.
5. As we all know, the existence of audio industry is at stake what alternative platforms do you guys think are suitable for the new bands?
KAAL: Audio industry is at risk means that the musicians are at risk. Whatever comes instead of this can’t really be justified. For the new artists it’s really challenging to open up a YouTube account and release their works there if you think about the quality of the content. There are audio streaming apps like spotify, imagine radio and gaan. People are using those but the income that comes from the apps isn’t really much. So YouTube is pretty much the only suitable option we have now. But the problem with YouTube is you need visuals as well. Sometimes the video limits the perception of the audience. Again, as musicians our only job should have been creating music and bringing that to the audience. But now the number of audience has lessened a lot and the number of viewers has been increasing day by day which is natural as YouTube and Facebook have become major sources of self entertainment.
So, in terms of spreading our songs we think the social media is the best possible option now.
6. Being a rising band Kaal’s debut music video was a big budget work. All the band members are students. How did the band manage to make such a work? What were the inspirations and challenges?
KAAL: To be honest, as a new band, releasing debut track with a big-budget music video is quite rare. We saw only a handful of examples. Bapon had to go through a lot for arranging the money. He worked like crazy for several months to arrange the budget. Other members contributed as well. And the music video was possible because of everyone’s contribution.
Our inspiration was the love and well wishes that we got from our close friends, brothers, seniors and juniors and everyone close to us. And as much as obstacles go, at one point we thought a third world war might start while releasing the song. Thankfully it ended well. No one had to wage any war.
Arranging the budget was the main obstacle. It was very challenging to arrange that amount in a short time. Creating a work like this with the only money in one’s pocket isn’t as easy as it sounds. The hassle we had to take was out of our imagination. But as they say, hard work pays off. We are satisfied with what came up.
7. The music video was shot in different locations, aren’t there memories you guys want to share?
KAAL: Memories! We created countless memories while working on this project. We shot the music video in Suhrawardy Udyan, Mohammadpur, Suptadhara waterfall and Gulishakhali sea beach in Chittagong. We can’t forget the efforts put by the video director Fuad bhai and his team. Khairul Basar bhai, the main cast of the video, went to Chittagong with fever!
There was a funny incident during the drone shots. The drone hit the tree up in the hill and we had to climb up the hill to find the drone. And when we found it one of the propellers was broken. We somehow managed to finish the shoot with that broken propeller! But sadly all the propellers were washed away at the end of the shoot in Gulishakhali sea beach. The drone man was a chill person. He didn’t nag about that incident at all but we understand, it was really sad for him.
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8. Bapon, being a student, a teacher and the leader of the band you do have lots of responsibilities. How do you manage all these together? We would also like to know about your musical journey.
Bapon: Well, I work keeping my priorities straight. It’s not that hard if you set a realistic mentality. I worked constantly thinking about the music video release. When it was exam time I focused on the exams. And in the free time I focused on earning money by teaching. I’m not overstating this, but I had to work for almost 12 hours a day constantly prior to the final releasing months.
And as far as the story of my musical journey goes, it started way back in 2004 when I used to go to the Shishu Academy holding my mother’s hand to take music lessons. But I seriously concentrated on learning music from 2005 to 2013 in Moulovibazar, the town where I grew up. During my college days in 2014 I started learning the guitar and joined as a vocalist in the local community band ‘Buzz Factory’. Then I came to Dhaka having been admitted to Dhaka University in 2016. I joined in Bhatial Shohure in 2016 and Krishnapaksha in 2017 as a guitarist and composer. I composed a few songs for the band. But at the end of that year I quit Krishnapaksha.
After coming to Dhaka in 2016 I have taken guitar lessons intensively for another 2 years. I always wanted to create my own music. But I was mainly inspired to act on my dreams after coming to the campus, seeing a lot of senior brothers and their works. Since 2016 I have written and composed almost around 50 songs. And finally in 2020, we released Kitoggota. In this long musical journey I’m mostly indebted to my mother. Also the support I got from my friends, senior brothers and people around me, I really count myself lucky for that.
9. We know, all the members of your band are not from Dhaka. How do you manage to practice together?
Kaal: Actually everyone is familiar to each other for a long time. Bapon and Dip used to work together in Krishnapaksha. Even the two guest musicians who played in the song Kritoggota, Joy and Dipankar, they are Bapon’s close brothers from his home town. Joy and Dipankar will work with Kaal in the future too. Fahim and Imran have been doing music in Chittagong together for almost ten years.
The main problem in band is, the understanding and mentality of each other sometimes don’t sync properly, Kaal never had to face this. As everyone understood each other since the beginning it wasn’t a big deal to cope up with the performance. We often engage in composing our own tracks. Today it’s not that hard to communicate from different places. We discuss about our compositions and when we decide to do something new, we work on our individual sets of responsibility. Then we experiment with all those together in practice pads and in live sessions. We practice together at least thrice a month. And when we’re satisfied with the work, we head to the recording studio.
10. Bands have to go many ups and downs, tell us about the challenges Kaal has faced and is still facing.
Kaal: We have quite a lot of advantages, actually. Everyone knows each other very well and is aware of the core musical taste and philosophy. The musical scenario of Bangladesh, especially the rock music scenario is experiencing its worst time in the history, we guess. And right now creating a song and releasing it is a real challenge. The main obstacle behind this is money. It doesn’t matter how many songs and compositions you have, if you don’t have money, you can’t release anything. If you want your work to reach its perfection then you have to spend money accordingly. It takes minimum one lakh taka to create a good quality music video. Bands need live shows to earn that kind of money. And audiences have a bigger role to play in this scenario. Unfortunately a lot of them don’t even like to buy tickets to the shows of much bigger bands let alone us! We have only started our journey. The main challenge is money and also maintaining the musicianship. We don’t support any kind of verbal-bribery or politics to get into shows or media coverage. We don’t want to get viral either. That’s why we work day and night to earn enough money to keep creating our music. Our only mission is to keep creating new music. And it’s natural for the audience to absorb into new kind of music or anything that’s new. Right now we’re in a phase where the audiences are taking their time to absorb our music. It’s a challenge we were completely aware of and we might have to face it in the future too. It won’t affect our music though. We’ll keep on creating music; the people who like our music will support us and listen to our songs on contrary the people who don’t, will not support us. The math is simple.
11. According to the world music critics Rock music is old and is on its way be an antique. Do you think with wave of globalization, Rock music in BD is dying too?
Kaal: To be honest, we don’t really believe in this. In this era of globalization, people want to talk about their problems, they want to scream their sorrows out and they want to share their philosophy. Frankly speaking, there’s no better way than rock music to speak and scream about these. You obviously are not going to leave electro-music and go dance with pain in your mind. Rock music will never die. And in Bangladesh, we think rock music is still very young. People haven’t been able to absorb rock music to its fullest. The disaster that musicians had to face due to the failure of the audio industry is what might make people think that rock music is at near death condition. But it’s not. If the industry gets a little more strong and reliable, the musicians will rock the hell out of you. Rock music is still in its infancy to becoming a part of our own culture. We along with all the other bands are trying to make that happen. We’re hopeful.
12. What impact might the consequences of COVID-19 have on the music scenario of our country?
Kaal: We think after this pandemic people will be enriched with a lot more humanitarian qualities. They’ll be more Cooperative to each other, speak about the injustice louder and clearer. And most importantly they’ll want to keep away from depression and live happily which makes us believe they’re going to be more compassionate about music and other forms of art. Bands will create a lot of meaningful songs giving their best. People will understand musicians also have lives to live, mouths to feed and bills to pay. All in all we’re trying to stay positive about all these. No harm in dreaming positive, right?