Musician Shayan Chowdhury Arnob is currently focusing on the first season of Coke Studio Bangla

We caught up with the musical virtuoso to also talk about the current indie music scene of Bengal
Shayan Chowdhury Arnob
Shayan Chowdhury Arnob

Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh Shayan has grown to be one of the most popular names in the independent Bengali music scene across borders and carved his mark during times that are dominated by commercial music. The artist propagated across households beyond Bangladesh, especially amongst the youth with soulful tracks like She Je Boshe Achhe, Chuya Chuyi and Dhushor Megh alongside Hok Kolorob that turned out to be the face of student rebellion with time. Recently, he has made an attempt to provide a larger platform to younger independent artists like him by producing the inaugural session of Coke Studio Bangla. Arnob was recently in the city along with Arnab Roy, Vice President and Head of Marketing, Coca Cola India to promote the series that launched about seven months ago. We caught up with the musical virtuoso to talk about the current indie music scene of Bengal across borders, Coke Studio’s upcoming live concert and how the label intends to give way to more original songs in the future.

Coke Studio Bangla will soon be taking the live stage. Is this an attempt to bring people back on their feet after the pandemic?

We have already performed one colossal concert at Dhaka and were surprised to see the audience standing there for 5 hours despite getting drenched in the rain. We considered cancelling or rescheduling the show and I was just about to go up on stage to announce the same, but audiences were restless to hear music live. The Bangla music scene is largely untapped and if we look at industries like K-Pop we will realise how important it is to create something original, that we can call our own. Our goal through Coke Studio Bangla is to connect to our roots and that can only happen when we connect to people.

Independent Bengali music was in full swing even up till the early 2000’s, but has seen a decline ever since. Has there been any lack of encouragement towards artists lately?

I think we are not being able to provide the young independent artists with a much required performative space. Rabindranath Tagore’s Ekla Cholo Re, translating to “walk alone if you find no one” is what connects us. It was fascinating to see young artists coming up with their own inputs, while I was designing the episodes and I think they are quite hungry to share their ideas. The onus is on us to provide them the right platform, and Coke Studio Bangla is a humble attempt towards that.

What was on your mind when you were conceptualising the soundscape of Coke Studio Bangla?

The soundscape is as eclectic as it can be with enhancements from Rap, Jazz and Folk music to name a few. While etching out the soundscape for this season, I wanted it to channelise the chaotic, eccentric daily landscape of Dhaka. Bengali is a language that is not just confined to Bangladesh, but ranks fifth in the list of most spoken native languages. So I wanted to channelise it all through this season and hence put together as many musicians as I could from every Bengali practiced region, and from as many genres of music as possible. We have also mixed it up with many instruments, and languages that complement and enhance the soundscape of this season. Authenticity plays a big role in the soundscape of Coke Studio Bangla.

What are your plans with Coke Studio Bangla’s live concert in Kolkata?

All the artists and tracks viewers have experienced so far on Coke Studio Bangla’s YouTube channel will be coming together for a live show around Durga Puja this year. We wish to collaborate with local artists for the performances and make it as diverse as possible by bringing in other forms of fine art too. The venue is yet to be decided upon.

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