Subir Dev, more popularly known as Master-D in the music industry, is the pioneer of Bangla Urban music, offering a completely new genre to music fans. Master-D started his career in the urban desi music scene with DJ Vicious and Kashif. The group dominated the scene with countless singles that are still famous today. With music continually developing, Master-D felt compelled to return to his origins and continue to work with Bangla music.
We at TINDS got the incredible chance to sit down with Master-D to discuss the emergence of the Bangla urban movement, his passion for pioneering it, and his vision for the future.
Tell me a bit about your background. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
MASTER-D: I was born in Bangladesh and immigrated to Canada at a very young age when I was 9 years old. Montreal, Canada is where I grew up and was exposed to so many various types of music. Which motivated me to keep the culture alive.
How did you first get started with music, especially Bengali music? Was it something you grew up with, or rather, was it something you were introduced to?
MASTER-D: Music practice was always a part of my family’s life while I was growing up. I’d take up the harmonium and start singing with my mum, who is a semi-classical singer and also my mentor. After moving to Canada, I got obsessed with mastering the tabla, which I ultimately achieved. My guruji Dr. Narendra Verma is a disciple of late Ustad Allah Rakha Khan. From whom I trained for 10 years. That’s what truly helped me comprehend classical music better.
With the music industry getting digitalized in almost all aspects, how important do you think it is for someone to be able to play instruments? How many instruments do you play?
MASTER-D: With almost everything being so digital nowadays, I believe that we are really missing the real touch of music. Any artist or someone who wants to be a producer should pick up and learn at least one instrument because of the difference it makes in how you compose. I myself play the harmonium, the tabla, guitars, keyboard, tumbi, base, flutes and a little bit of everything.
The Master-D who I am a fan of is certainly more referred to “The Bilz and Kashif” why did you make the decision to pursue a solo career?
MASTER-D: After over ten years of collaboration, traveling the globe, producing three albums, and experiencing enormous success with The Bilz & Kashif, I thought it was time for me to represent the Bangla community. I saw people all over the world loving Punjabi and Hindi music. And believed Bengali music could be a part of it as well. I realized that no one was taking the lead at the moment. And to build a strong representation for the Bangla Urban music genre. So, you might say that I made the choice based on a natural desire. To take up the torch and encourage young artists to follow in my footsteps. In addition, Bengali is my culture and background, and I wanted to represent my community.
What inspired you to pursue Bangla Urban music? How did you come up with it?
MASTER-D: I now have fans all over the world, where we broke through boundaries to bring Hindi/Punjabi music to mainstream audiences, and that’s when I discovered that our music is worldwide and has the potential to connect people. When I visited Bengali weddings and festivities. I often noted that there was no Bangla music being performed when the predominant language of the performers was Bangla. I had the impression that something was lacking from the music business and decided to act on it. I’ve traveled the world and discovered what music makes people fall in love, and I wanted to bring that same energy to Bangla music and urbanize it. It always takes one individual to take the initial step, and I am grateful and happy to play such a pivotal part.
What would you say has been the most difficult struggle in your efforts to promote Urban Bengali Music?
MASTER-D: Anyone who has ever been a pioneer in anything will tell you that it is quite an endeavor to be the first to do anything. Every step I take is a new one, full of surprises and challenges. and I must constantly keep alert and focused. That being stated, the most challenging aspect of my attempts to promote Bangla urban music was the absence of a network. The TV channels are all about politics, and the radio wasn’t interested in the new genre, so it was difficult to get people to hear what you had and reach the public. I also had difficulty articulating the concept of urban music and obtaining the necessary backing from the company and individuals involved. It’s always a work in progress.
Where would you say your music is more popular? In Bangladesh or abroad?
MASTER-D: My Bangla songs have received a lot of love from the Bangladeshi people. However, when I attended events here, I saw that even Bengali youngsters would never prefer listening to Bangla songs and would instead choose Hip-hop or R&B, so I thought of mixing Bengali lyrics with the kind of music the crowd enjoyed. I sought to reach out to Bengalis with my music all across the globe. Not only those in Bangladesh or West Bengal.
Where do you see this movement in the next 5 years?
MASTER-D: I don’t believe I can forecast the future. However, I will do all in my ability to ensure the success of Bangla Urban. In as many areas and Bengali communities as possible throughout the globe.
What advice do you have for some of the rising artists while they are trying to make a name for themselves right now?
MASTER-D: Be genuine to yourself and your creativity. Try learning an instrument and connecting with your music not just in spirit, but also in body and movement. Love and cherish your fans as much as they love you. And constantly attempt to provide a good message to them via your music and art.
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