Dameer Khan (DK), a Bangladeshi Indie-Pop singer-songwriter, producer, and, most importantly, a dreamer and an aspiring changemaker. The uniqueness in his music is immediately noticeable because of his incredible talent of merging western indie with Bengali. Dameer spoke up about his life, influences, and his extraordinary journey so far in a candid interview with TINDS during his recent visit to Bangladesh.
TINDS: What was your childhood like?
Dameer: I was born in Dhaka and grew up there for a while until I moved to Malaysia for around a span of four years or so. Then I moved to Africa for a while and now living in Montreal, Canada. I had a rather typical Dhaka childhood, I think. I studied in Sunbeams school and I made some great friends there, who I am still very close to. My parents were rather strict when I was a kid, like most parents are. I wasn’t allowed to go out often, so my entire world revolved around the internet.
TINDS: 3 words that describe you the best.
Dameer: Passionate, Hard-working & Caring.
TINDS: How’d you get into music? Tell us a little about the start.
Dameer: My father, Pilu Khan, is a member of the famous rock band Renaissance, and I grew up surrounded by music. Though my father never imposed music on me, he was in fact the only person who constantly warned me and emphasized the importance of my education. Musicians like Bappa Mazumder and Partha Barua visited the house on a regular basis, which had a great impact. I began playing the guitar at a young age and have always gone above and beyond just because I enjoy it. I knew I could do it, and I believed it more than anyone else. I began sending my music to various labels. Majestic Records responded one day after two years of dedication, making demos, producing, and repeated rejection. My parents were quite apprehensive about me pursuing music until I got the record deal.
TINDS: How many instruments do you play?
Dameer: I’m good with the guitar, so anything that’s like a guitar, I can play it. I am okay with the piano. I can play the flute and the drums. I would love to learn the saxophone or trumpet. I love the ‘Santoor’ and I’m very eager to learn that.
TINDS: What would you be if not a musician?
Dameer: I study political science and I am very passionate about the subject. I would probably have loved to do something regarding diplomacy and public policies. I am very interested in the development of our country and culture. I love learning about other cultures and their history. I’d probably have done something to help the country, the community and the people.
TINDS: How would you compare the energy of the audiences while doing shows here in Dhaka and abroad?
Dameer: Nothing feels as good as Dhaka. The experience was rather different when I played in Canada, because they have never listened to Bengali music before and had almost next to zero knowledge about our culture and artistry. I have had the privilege of being the first example of Bangladeshi artistry in the life of so many of these foreigners. I also make songs in English because I want to translate the Bangladeshi experience to other people out there because it’s interesting enough for them to buy into it. I think it’s all about experimentation, I need to try different things and see what works and it is definitely a fun challenge being a producer and song-writer and I am super excited about making white folks feel desi for atleast a few minutes.
TINDS: What do you think about the massive transition that Bengali music is going through?
Dameer: The future of this can not be driven by artists alone. We need help from everyone, starting from the venues, the Government, the labels and the audiences of course. Being an artist, I think it is our responsibility to influence people to invest in this for the betterment of not just music but everything as a whole. Everyone of us represents the country on some level, when people see me up on stage, they’ll definitely know me for who I am but I’ll always be the representation of my country. I know for a fact that I will be able to inspire younger generations if I am able to do good from my position. There is an abundance of talented people in our country, all we need to do is come together and organize. Patriotism needs a software update!
TINDS: Who are some of your favorite musicians?
Dameer: The ones I love, I love ‘em hard! Earl Sweatshirt, an American rapper, is my absolute favorite, I even have a quote of him tattooed on my arm. I love Charli XCX. I love Arnob and I think Fuad Al-Muqtadir is an absolute genius. I like a bunch of UK artists as well, I love Ezra Collective. You know, that’s like a crazy question to ask a musician because it’s everything all the time. I get really engrossed with whoever I’m listening to. I’d probably keep going on with the list if I’m not interrupted.
TINDS: Coming this far, what have you had to struggle with?
Dameer: I figured this out when I was moving to Canada, that Western artists are so lucky and privileged and they have no idea about it. They have such easy access to liquidity, investments, Government Grants, investors and even the legal strength that we as artists have to struggle for. I am eternally grateful that Spotify is finally available in Bangladesh, however the company needs to grow and grab the better share of the market. Our currency being weaker than that compared to other currencies, if I get a million streams I will not be making as much money as a foreign artist, majority of my audience belonging from Bangladesh, which is not fair I think. I want to grow internationally and it’s like being too brown for the white people and too white for the brown people. Finding the middle ground is always an obstacle. I also have a lot on my plate with my studies and music and I have never been able to invest 100% in my music. The work load is huge but it’s the labor of love and I love doing it with all my heart. I am excited to reach the point where I become a full time musician.
TINDS: What would your advice be to new musicians?
Dameer: Do not give a damn about what anyone thinks. Do what you do best, if you know it’s cool, it is. There’s no artist that I detest more than the ones who are insecure about marketing their own work. People need to believe in themselves, everybody deserves to be heard. Your work is probably going to be trash at first, nobody comes up with great stuff at their first tries. You just have to keep at it. Haters gonna hate!
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