From beating two pencils on a geometry box to playing the drums, here is a story of an upcoming musician from Dhaka – Asif Hassan. Finding his love for music when he was in the eighth grade, Asif didn’t realize how music would end up occupying such a big part of his life.
Talking about the early days, Asif reflected on one of his fondest memories with a shy smile on his face. The transformation from the geometry box to the actual kit was done for a friend’s gig. “Some of us were invited to play some music and I had no idea what I would do, I hadn’t held a drum stick before”, reminiscenced Asif. Handling the actual drum kit for the first time felt almost surreal and with much trepidation, Asif pulled through the show with an ease that surprised even him. When the performance ended, there was no shortage of praises. That is the moment he credits the beginning of his musical journey to.
Talking about his inspirations, Asif contributes his initial musical shape to Metallica. However, taste and influence have changed since then, with more attention paid to Radiohead and indie artists like Iron and Wine and Bon Iver. From progressive to ambiance to indie, he has been influenced by a lot. He believes that the most important role of a musician is to listen to music, even more so than practising. The more you listen, the better your musical sense gets, according to Asif. He believes that the style of music you want to pursue should also evolve with your career. According to him, artists who find a winning formula for the public and stick to it, don’t do much in musical terms – not for themselves, not for the fans and not for music either.
Asif has released two EPs till date which have garnered an amazingly positive public response from musicians and general people alike. The first one was a noise EP, consisting of noise based music – from various everyday and not so every day sources. The sound of atomic bombs falling made for eerie, soul searching music that really tore at your heart. The EP was inspired by a photograph he had taken and thought of as good album art – the music and lyrics followed.
Asif’s second EP: And We Win Some, And We Lose All Cover art: Asif Hassan Illustration and concept: Resident 3
The second EP was a bigger success in terms of listener reaction, largely because of the shift from noise music to more contemporary compositions. A song that became an instant hit is called “Remember the Summer?”. Sung by Tilok Adnan, another thriving musician, it is a nostalgic take on a something that wasn’t meant to be. In terms of relatabilility it ranked so high that many people approached Asif to tell him that they felt like he had written and composed about them. “The response on Soundcloud, YouTube and other platforms coupled with supportive comments from musicians I look up to, especially the likes of Rushnaf Wadud from Blunderware, played a huge role in inspiring me to create more and more music,” he says.
He credits the ease of making the EP on his producer, Rakat Zami. “The ideation, planning and the overall execution of the EP was a smooth ride because of Rakat. Having a great producer who knows your playing really helps in whatever you want to create”, says Asif.
And creation – pure, unadulterated creation has always been a goal for him. Ever the recluse, you can often find Asif sitting in a crowd of friends with his ukelele by his side and a distant look on his face. Economist by profession, Communist by heart – it’s hard to find someone this at odds with the fast paced, modern world that worships consumerism. Creation – the creation of music, of poetry and art, of joys and sorrows freely made from nothing but human soul and thought – is the sole rebellion Asif can push forth. And so he does.
It helps that music gives him peace too. When he’s itching to make good art, he only has one thing in mind, “To make myself happy by playing what I like”. It just so happens that others like it too. Fame, glory and awards aside, Asif is the breed of musician who builds a special relationship with the instrument and considers it to be a friend for the spiritual journey ahead.
And so, to him, music will always be enlightening, a revelation each time he creates anew. It helped him understand himself, the world around him and the people in it. Music guides him through the maze of life, and will probably guide him beyond as well.