Published: Friday, July 26, 2013

Back to basics

The story behind Ichchey Hoy

Photo: ATL Aakash

Photo: ATL Aakash

Naquib Khan, Pilu Khan, Fahmida Nabi and Zulfiqer Russell are all well-known names of our music industry. While the Khan Brothers have settled into the roles of composers alongside their legacy with band Renaissance, Fahmida Nabi’s melodious, sweet voice continues to enchant audiences, and Zulfiqer Russell, while not a familiar name to listeners, has penned numerous hits over the years. So what happened when the four came together to cook up an express album?

The four recently visited The Daily Star, and told the story themselves.

How did you four come together for an album?

Fahmida: Russell should answer that.

Russell: The album was a very sudden decision. A couple of weeks before Ramadan, Numa apa (Fahmida Nabi) had just called to catch up casually. She told me we should do some music together. That same night, I called her up and asked if she had any albums releasing this Eid. When she said she didn’t, I said “Then why not do an album this Eid?”

Naquib bhai and Pilu bhai were in our plans from the beginning. I am personally very comfortable working with them both. So I called up Pilu bhai the next day, and asked him to do four songs. He never says no to me; so I said I’d send him the lyrics over email.

So, where the songs pre-written or did you write specifically for the album?

Russell: I usually write songs on my cellphone. I browsed through the notes there, and found quite a few ones that I had written but never got to use. So I sent a couple of them to Pilu bhai. I then called Naquib bhai, who asked me to check back the next Friday. To the utter surprise of both of us, Naquib bhai composed all four lyrics that day, in a single sitting.

Naquib: This is a personal record for me; but I liked the lyrics so much, that we just kept going. What I was worried was whether the songs would get a little monotonous since I did them at one go. Turns out, it didn’t happen.

Pilu: I have very good understanding with Russell. He knows the kind of lyrics I like working with, and I know the kind of tunes he’s expecting. The first song he sent me was really beautiful.
Fahmida: The lyrics today are very ‘light’. What Russell did was keep the songs very relevant, while not giving up the emotions that are universal and transcend the boundaries of time.

Russell: The tracks were arranged in India, but it was amazing how much it sounded like it did in the composers’ minds. What was great was I asked the guy back there if he’d heard of Renaissance, and that Naquib Khan and Pilu Khan were the composers, he replied “What are you talking about? I grew up listening to them!” The tracks came out great; it reflected that those who did the work were familiar with Naquib bhai and Pilu bhai’s work.

Fahmida: The reason we were able to do such good work in so little time is because our teamwork was very solid. Everything was so much in sync, it was easy for me. As driven as Russell was to get the work done, Naquib bhai and Pilu bhai themselves took my voice takes and told me what I could do better.

Pilu: As satisfied as I am, I can only wonder how much better it could have been if we had a little more time. Specially Numa, who had to give vocals of multiple songs in a day; must have been tough on her.

Fahmida: That said, we did this album with a lot of sincerity. Not in one song did I use my voice copy-pasted for a repeat or chorus. For a five-minute song, I sang the entire five minutes.

Russell: Naquib bhai had to go to Gazipur one morning, but he stayed with me till 2am. Without this level of sincerity, the album would not have been a reality.

We tried to keep it old-fashioned and natural. We did not use a single digitised loop in the album. All the instruments were played by hand.

Fahmida: This is something I think is very important for this time; when everyone is trying new things, we wanted to go back to the basics. We wanted to do it au naturale, and we believe we have succeeded in doing so. The rest is up to the audience to decide.

Pilu: We have so many good musicians, but the output is not coming like that, I think because of lack of maturity and sincerity. We wanted to do that.

Fahmida: There is another person we must mention. We have a duet in the album that I’ve done with Bappa Mazumder. He did his part very nicely, and said he was happy to be a part of the project.

Finally, what’s the album called and when in it coming?

Russell: It’s called “Ichchey Hoy”, and will be available from July 30.