With a population of 17 million, it’s no surprise that Bangladesh’s capital has an enthusiastic independent music scene blooming within it. We talked to Khan Mohammad Faisal, founder of Akaliko Records and a curator for the Dhaka Electronica Scene blog, to get the lowdown on the local musical activity and some insider tips about the city.
In ten words or less, how would you describe where you live?
Chaotically growing in nature, the most populated capital.
What got you involved in the local music scene, and what do you do in it?
My love for music and my passion for making a difference. I am a record label owner, A&R guy, writer, promoter, artist and event manager. Jack of all to be honest. It has been quite an adaptive learning experience.
What are the dominant music styles in your country, and are there any exciting new music trends currently emerging?
The national mainstream domain has been largely controlled by Bangla pop and folk music. The latter being reintroduced via pop artists and folk rock bands to the urban population.
Dhaka has had an exciting underground rock scene for more than two decades, which has been getting some prominence in recent years as it’s getting mainstream level outreach. The current underground band scene is dominated by heavier and darker metal genres. The hip-hop scene also has a cult following. The electronic scene is the latest edition and is getting some serious niche attention.
Who are the key local acts we should be listening to right now?
What’s the live music scene/nightlife like?
Dhaka lacks the appropriate infrastructure needed for a thriving nightlife. While there is a growing array of trendy restaurants, as eating out is a popular activity for locals, the music scene is largely disorganised and small.
For anyone visiting, what should they see and what should they eat?
They should experience the vibe of the city. It’s full of energy and optimism for a brighter future. There are plenty of local attractions for visitors (check Lonely Planet).
Biriyani is a must have. Fresh hilsa from the rivers will be a treat. We love fish down here.
What one song, past or present, sums up your country best?
That’s really tough, but you can try out a modern rendition of our anthem which is a beautiful song.
How do most people prefer to consume music in your country?
There has been a resurgence of FM radio and many [stations] play non stop music. Younger people prefer the internet.
What are the biggest challenges faced by musicians in your country?
There is a myriad of problems faced by Bangladeshi musicians. The lack of infrastructure and dedicated music businesses affects sustainability and hence many promising talents fail to flourish.