By Shams Nafiz
The producers behind Apeiruss discuss their blazing trail of hits
Saami and Shafi – the EDM duo Apeiruss – are two of the hottest producers in the music scene today. Over the years, they have worked on hundreds of songs and collaborated with the likes of Mika Singh, Tahsan, Momtaz, Balam. Their most popular song, “Ishqam,” a collab with Mika Singh and Ali Quli Mirza has recently reached over 200 million views on YouTube and still remains a popular song in Bangladesh and India. I sat with the two brothers over a coffee and had a chat about their humble beginning, their growing pain, and what the future holds for Aperiuss.
How did Apeiruss get started? What was the initial inspiration of two brothers to create music?
Saami: We loved music from childhood, we were passionate about it. Initially, we started making music because we were bored, and sought a creative outlet. That eventually materialized to where we are today. I think we started to professionally make music from 2007-08 and we formed Apeiruss in 2014. At the beginning we were a group of five, but the others gradually left to pursue their own passion and chosen career path. Now Shafi and I continue that journey.
Shafi: Saami pretty much summed it up. I would like to add that we always had the desire to be productive. And as we both loved music, we tried to create something that excited us. And that blossomed into us being Apeiruss.
“Deshi Nagad e Beshi Labh” turned out to be a superhit. What was your experience working with Momtaz, Muhsfiq Farhan, and Nusraat Faria?
Shafi: Once we came back to Dhaka we started working with different brands. Neel da (Indraneel Chattopadhyay) reached out to us after their team heard a few of our songs. We met up one day and he shared the overall idea with us and we took it from there. We had a blast throughout the project and we really appreciate the love and praise we got for this song.
Saami: Yes, when we create a song or jingle for an advert or any other promotion material, first and foremost our goal is to make a good song on its own merit. We know that if we can achieve that, the overall quality of the project would go up a notch or two. So, when Neel da shared his vision of what they wanted to achieve with this project, we thought about it and realized we needed Momtaz apa on board to take this project to the next level. Once we had the blueprint ready, we went back and forth with the music, lyrics, production quality, and eventually created the song and filmed the music video. It took us nearly four months to complete our part and the rest has been beautifully managed by the team.
“Fruits manei Frutika” won the Commward 2022. How did you come up with the catchy jingle?
Saami: We were approached by Mr. Robin who is in the brand management of Frutika. He had heard our songs before and always appreciated our work. He asked us to come up with a simple, catchy jingle for Frutika. We created a few demos accordingly, but they felt like something was missing and requested us to work on it further. We created some more variations and eventually came up with the song that they really liked. And you know how the rest unfolded. We are honored to have received the Commward award for our work.
“Ishqam,” your collab with Mika Singh, is reaching nearly 200 million views on YouTube. Could you share with us how this project materialized?
Saami: Let me begin by saying that we believe in destiny and manifestation. When we left for Bollywood with no prior plans or contacts, we believed that if we kept trying consistently something good will happen. We remained determined to not return until we have achieved success. We met Mika Singh at the airport and we kept in contact with him. Thinking back, it was amazing that this hugely successful musician who hit the big time all the way back in 1996 was communicating with us for possible future collab. One day he invited us over and introduced us to Ali Quli Mirza and we started our work on “Ishqam.” We didn’t try to reinvent the wheel with this song, what we did was make sure a good melody and high-quality production was the backbone of the project. Initially, the song did not get the hype that much, but after a few months, it started to get popular and now it is an international hit. We believe that it became the success it is today because of our different cultural backgrounds and how we each contributed differently to the song and it worked out beautifully.
Shaafi: We love the fact that the song has Bangladeshi and Indian creators with a Middle Eastern vibe to it, it just works. We can hear the music play almost everywhere. We ask people – have you heard this song? And they say yeah of course, and when we let them know it was ours, the reaction is always fantastic. This song has been life-changing for us and the overall experience has been amazing for us.
You two are hyper-focused on your music career. How do you balance the intense pressure of your workload and finding time for family and friends?
Shaafi: Yes, the struggle is real. Due to our work and commitments, we often miss out on family gatherings and occasions. It is always difficult to find time to spend with our dear friends. But that comes with the goal we want achieve. People sometimes tell us we work too much or we are always busy. I always kindly remind them that we are simply not working, we are living and experiencing a wonderful, albeit hectic, life of making our dreams come true. If I think of our work as JUST work, I don’t think I would be able to function properly. We truly live the work that we do and put our heart and soul into our projects. I believe we are blessed to have this opportunity to do what we love and we want to remain true to our original goal and keep striving towards greater heights.
Saami: I think an artist is a different breed of human altogether. Other people may feel the need to balance work and life, but we genuinely love what we do and keep going the extra mile 100% of the time. In our industry, the importance of commitment and time management cannot be stated enough. We ensure our promise and quality of work is always maintained. Of course, there is immense pressure, but I enjoy what we do and usually do not feel that a “balance” of sorts is required. Yes, that does mean we often miss out on quality time with family and friends, but that’s a sacrifice we have to make in order to make our dreams come true. But that is true for all hardworking individuals, not just us. Other professionals have to devote time to their field of work as well. I believe by staying disciplined we ensure we do not fall prey to the distractions that will not contribute towards our overall journey to be better musicians. As Shaafi mentioned, we love what we do, and that love and passion keeps us going.
You must get a lot of feedback from your fans and well-wishers. Have there been situations where you had to handle some really negative feedback?
Saami: I believe that anything you do, even good work, there will be people who will have an opinion on it. Sometimes that’s positive, sometimes that is negative. However, we cannot let ourselves be bummed out from generic negative feedbacks. I do welcome all opinions on our work; however, any criticism has to be constructive. We like to think we are mature enough as musicians that we know what opinions and feedback will help us get better.
Shafi: Yes, as bhai mentioned, I consider feedback as a catalyst of doing something better. We look at it as a net positive for us to do better. We see the comments on our socials about our work and listen to our fans when they have something to say. We try to treat that as valuable input to incorporate in our next project. We appreciate the fact that people are commenting and letting us know what they like and dislike. We cannot let any negativity impact our focus and mindset.
What challenges have you faced in your musical journey so far?
Saami: Where to begin, haha. Initial challenges start from the family. Every parent wants their child to be successful and do well socially and financially. Unfortunately, when you look around you do not find many successful musicians who are able to make a good living from just their craft. I think this reality makes most Bangladeshi parents close-minded towards the idea of their children pursuing a career in music or most creative professions. We had very limited resources and opportunities and we had to convince our parents that we can become successful in the long run.
From the industry perspective, we did not have access to high quality studios to master our music. I hope there will be options in the near future as we are still far behind Bollywood and Hollywood in terms of overall music quality. Back then, we had to release our music under labels, we did not have the scope to use social media to reach new audiences. Now, anyone can make music from their home of a decent quality and release it on different social media platforms. One can become a star overnight. However, that is also highly dependent on the luck factor. From YouTube to TikTok, all social media is saturated, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to create an audience for yourself.
Shafi: There is no set path to success, no guidebook or curriculum you would follow that will ensure you will become a professional musician. Like, if you complete your Bachelor’s and eventually Master’s, you can find a job and make progress towards senior positions. It doesn’t work like that in music. There is always a big risk factor of not becoming successful. Even our decision to simply go to Mumbai without a plan was quite risky. We could have easily failed and returned empty handed.
Saami: Yes, we completed our education and pursued music. Looking back, we had to take many risky decisions over the last 14-15 years. Some paid off, some didn’t. But as we mentioned, we believe in destiny and manifestation and faced all these challenges head on. Sometimes, we do get questions from young musicians who are trying to convince their parents to let them pursue music full time. We always advise them to not neglect their basic education and keep working on their craft. Once they are able to show their parents some results, they will eventually be convinced.
Shafi: I would like to add that parents and society in general should normalize having different career paths. Of course, it is our responsibility to put in the work, but having support from parents is a huge moral boost. Some parents are of course supportive and try to provide well for their children, but we still have a long way to go as a society. My hope is that our generation can make a positive impact for the upcoming generations and beyond.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who want to make a name for themselves?
Saami: Be consistent. I believe no one is born with greatness, we have to work towards it. Success will not come overnight. You have to put in hundreds of hours of work to hone your skills. Consistently putting in the effort will make you competent, so eventually when an opportunity comes along, you are ready to grab it and seize the day.
Shafi: Yes, you have to believe in yourself and keep improving as a musician. If you don’t have belief in yourself first, you will not go far in life. There will be ups and downs but that is true for all. If you keep trying, two things will happen – either you will succeed or you will not. But, if you don’t try, you will for sure not succeed. Some may say it’s all luck, and yes there is some truth to it. But more often than not, it won’t happen to you until you set the foundation. One viral content can be luck, but hundreds of viral or successful content is not luck, that’s years of hard work, skill, and vision. So, believe in yourself and manifest your success.
If you could have any musician or band guest star on one of your tracks, who would it be?
Both: Linkin Park, 100%
Shafi: They were a big inspiration and influence of our childhood; we grew up listening to their music. Even though we do not make the same genre of music, we would have absolutely loved the opportunity to work with them.
Saami: I would also like to add that we were supposed to work in KK and create a Hindi song. Unfortunately, he passed away. I wish we could have collaborated with him.
What’s a fond memory that you cherish as musicians?
Shafi: The whole experience of “Ishqam” will always have a special place in our hearts. We learned a lot and had a fantastic time working with Mika Singh and everyone else.
Saami: I will never forget a kind gesture from Mika Singh. The day we were recording his vocals for the track was coincidentally my birthday. So, he planned a surprise birthday party for me. He got a really nice cake for me, there was food, music, and almost everyone from the project made it. I celebrated with him and the team, and it was one of the best birthdays I had.
Shafi: We also appreciate the fact that we got to work with the Bangladeshi greats like Tahsan, Momtaz, and others. Each project brings a new joyous memory for us that inspires us to do better for our next song.
We want more songs from you guys! What projects are you working on in 2023?
Shafi: Believe me, we cannot wait to bring new songs to our fans. My aim is to make hundreds of songs this year and beyond, and collab with as many musicians as humanly possible. We are communicating with many artists already, but we look forward to anyone who wants to reach out to us and make good music.
Saami: Yes, we would like to invite artists of all genres and backgrounds to make new, innovative music that will captivate the audience. We are really excited for our upcoming projects and I hope everyone will love our songs.