By Rasha Jameel
Son to one of the country’s renowned musical artists, Fahim Hossain Chowdhury, a contestant on Bangladeshi Idol, and mentee to Bangladeshi rock icon, Ayub Bachchu, Amid Hossain Chowdhury’s career might seem like it comes with many labels. But the musical artist himself is defined through much more than that.
MWB got on a phone call with Amid Chowdhury to find out.
Your career in music kickstarted with your stint on Bangladeshi Idol in 2012. What was it like to receive such widespread love from the audience at the time?
My career in music kickstarted with my birth actually, as the son of Fahim Hossain Chowdhury. I’ve been brought up in an environment centered around music and prior to my time on Bangladeshi Idol, I used to have an underground band called Encore whose members consisted of prominent figures from the Bangladeshi music industry and had recorded a few songs, so all this started way back. Coming back to your question now. Bangladeshi Idol was definitely the first international musical reality show in Bangladesh and till date has been the only one, so being a part of that was amazing. It hasn’t been solely about receiving love and recognition from the audience, it was also a life-changing experience for me because of everything I got to learn there. The house band we had on Bangladeshi Idol was made up of incredibly talented musicians and the opportunity of getting to chat with them and collaborating with them to come up with a version of the song we’re meant to perform live, that made for a brilliant learning experience. Additionally, I received really good advice from all of the judges on the show. All in all, it was great.
Speaking of great learning experiences, what would you say was your biggest learning moment on Bangladeshi Idol? Something that always stayed with you after your time as a contestant on the show?
One major learning experience came from Mr Ayub Bachchu himself, who was one of the judges on the show. Although I didn’t win the title, afterwards I started working as a key member on this project to promote young talent called Acoustica Live, spearheaded by Mr Ayub Bachchu. The day I got eliminated from Bangladeshi Idol, Mr Bachchu told me that he’d like to work with me on a project. So that was one of my key learnings from that platform, that there will always be something bigger waiting for you.
Growing up as the son of prominent musician Fahim Hossain Chowdhury, how would you describe your childhood in the spotlight?
While my father prefers maintaining a low profile as a public figure, I was brought up in a neighborhood populated by several renowned Bangladeshi musicians in the industry, namely Manal Ahmed, Bappa Mazumder, Kumar Bishwajit, Ayub Bachchu, among several others. You could say Maghbazar at the time was a hub for musicians as Sruti recording studio was situated there. Growing up amid such immense talent definitely helped shape my ambitions regarding a future in the music industry. Being neighbors with Mr Ayub Bachchu ended up being my biggest motivating factor of course, considering the kind of spiritual influence he projected on aspiring musicians. This is my personal opinion, but based on what I’ve seen, just about every other guitarist in our country has been inspired by the image of Mr Bachchu holding the guitar. Apart from the inspiration I gathered from Mr Bachchu, there was always the fact that my father’s always been a member of this very fraternity which provided me with ample opportunities to interact with such brilliant minds of our music industry, and learn from them the art behind the craft ranging from sound designing to behind-the-scenes action at a concert. Having the aforementioned privilege of learning firsthand from the masters of the craft really prepared me in terms of pursuing a career in music. When I was completing my undergraduate degree abroad, I used to partake in a lot of singing gigs and performed as a musician in several events, all of which was heavily influenced by all that I had learned in my childhood growing up in the music fraternity of Bangladesh.
Your father has obviously had a massive influence over you and your career in music. But you also spoke about how growing up in a certain neighborhood populated by musical artists has also acted as a massive motivating factor for you. Who would you say has been your mentor till date?
Mr Ayub Bachchu. I had the privilege of learning to play the guitar as a kid from one of the key band members of LRB, made possible by Mr Bachchu who, as my neighbor at the time, believed that kids in the neighborhood should have the opportunity to learn music within the neighborhood. My friend Zaheen Ahmed and I would thus go to AB Kitchen Studio for guitar lessons. Post-Bangladeshi Idol, I went on to work with Mr Bachchu on Acoustica Live and we put forth performances for television audiences in an RTV program as well as live audiences at various events in Dhaka and Chittagong. When it comes to being mentored by Mr Bachchu, I have to say, he was an amazing mentor who helped many people, including youngsters like me, who’ll be indebted to him for life.
You’ve collaborated with several musical artists over the years, can you tell us something about your favorite collaboration(s) thus far?
Most of my collaborations thus far have been with Mr Shaker Reza, one of the founding members of the band Shunno. I’ve been acquainted with Shaker bhai from my time working at Radio Foorti for five years. I’ve done a lot of songs which Shaker bhai composed. I have worked with other senior artists as well, but the experience of working with Shaker bhai has been the best. I believe he brings out the best in me when it comes to music.
You left your corporate job in 2020 to devote yourself to music full-time. What advice would you have for someone conflicted between sticking to a desk job or pursuing their dreams in the creative sector?
Realistically speaking, you have to make sure to know your strengths first. While being passionate about your field of work is of paramount importance, passion cannot act as a substitute for skills and expertise in a particular craft or discipline. Some people might say that if you’re passionate about music you must pursue it. I say while you should act on that passion for the creative arts, it’s always a good idea to keep your options open for fields you’re equally good at or might be even better at. As someone who works in the education sector, I always try to guide the youngsters in a realistic manner which will help them in making mature decisions for themselves in the future. Now if I go and advise a youngster to simply follow their passion, it can end up being unhelpful in the long run for those who either lack a sense of passion or fail to understand what it might entail. In the present day, our contemporary musicians are doing well for themselves through more than just their music; everyone has a side-hustle ranging from content creation to brand endorsement deals, in order to support their livelihood. However, for those unable to indulge in such projects on the side, pursuing their passion can become difficult for them to sustain in the long run. Ultimately, you have to be smart about these decisions, keeping in mind that you have to understand the business behind whichever creative sector you’re passionate about.
Working in the education sector, is there anything interesting you’ve picked up from today’s youth population?
If I have to talk about interesting takeaways, I’d probably talk about their current taste in music. Something I’ve noticed of late is that the punk-era music of the 70s is gradually making a comeback in the present-day music scene, be it in Bollywood soundtracks or international chartbusters. Every time I’ve asked youngsters to play their favorite music at different events, the tunes they play tend to contain elements from quintessential 70s music. I believe that the groovy nature of 70s music really resonates with today’s youth as they find it enjoyable to dance to such tunes. I’ve come to realize that the youth today really crave that kind of energy and soulfulness in the music they listen to these days.
What do you get up to in your leisure time?
What usually happens is that I walk around, taking in my surroundings, the people, the environment.
How would you describe life at present?
“Ever-changing,” because I’ll be moving to Canada soon and “exciting,” since I’m looking forward to experiencing the major changes in life.
If you were to write your autobiography, what would you call it?
I’d say it’s too early to tell just now, since I’m unsure about how the next chapter of my life will unfold in a foreign country.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I’ve already begun speaking to some musicians in Canada and am hopeful about collaborating with them on future projects. I remember finding myself in a similar situation in Malaysia where I managed to connect with people and make friends through the shared love of music. I got to learn a lot from the musicians there, and, because of their diverse roots, I was able to jam with people from different countries. Therefore, in terms of my work in music, I’d like to see myself exploring and coming up with new and different kinds of songs, which cater to both Bangladeshi and international audiences.
Is there anything you’d like to tease from your upcoming projects for your fans?
As of right now, upcoming projects have been put to a halt since I’m going through a transitory period in life what with the shift to a foreign country coming up. There are, however, a couple of old projects which I’m discussing with some of my previous music producers. To put things in perspective, you know how every musician goes through certain phases in the journey of exploring and producing new music? I’m currently in one such phase where I’m not content with the projects I have in the pipeline and therefore not particularly keen on discussing those just yet. I can comment more on upcoming projects once I get to Canada and start collaborating on new projects because whatever comes next for me has to be something which I’ve worked on over there with new artists.
Fashion Direction & Styling: Mahmudul Hasan Mukul
Photographer: Farabi Tamal
Make-up & Hair: Mohammad Al Amin
Location: Beacon Studio