The eldest of a family of seasoned musicians, Dameer had started making noise in the indie music scene even before he turned 20. Born and raised in Dhaka, his songs are notable for exuding a sense of urgency - not out of character for a teenager seeking to curve out a little space for himself, and heartfelt enthusiasm - a sigh of both youth and a worthy musician.
Dameer, who currently resides in Malaysia, shares an unwavering, deep-rooted love for his home-country, evident in his recent efforts to raise funds for Bangladeshi communities affected by Covid-19 and cyclone Amphan by hosting a series of online concerts.
In an interview with Dhaka Tribune Showtime, the multi-disciplinary musician describes the wonderfully quirky traits of Dhaka through an emigrant’s lens, and reflects on his craft, aspirations, and latest singles imbued with a dream-like quality and unmistakable nostalgia -
Sun was a very personal song for you - a lyrical depiction of your relationship with your mother, a plea for her demons to release her, and a timely assertion on your part that you are your own person now.
Yes, I always make music as a form of therapy. Every family has their ups and downs, and when I first moved to Kuala Lumpur, I think, as a family, we all found it hard to cope. There was a lot of friction in my life, so I dealt with it by writing music.
Sun talks about a concept that’s endemic to Bangladesh: the current generation of parents dealing with the latent PTSD of going through routine, ubiquitous abuse from their own childhoods. So many of our parents grew up in harsh, unforgiving, stressful environments, and they have had to hold on to all that baggage as they grew older. My mom is one of the strongest people I know, she’s a superhero, and she took the weight of the world onto her shoulders. The song is about me telling her that I don’t have to be an extra piece of baggage and that I can stand on my own two feet. It’s about me walking into young adulthood, and telling her that I’m ready to tackle life, just like she did.
You are the eldest son of decorated musician Pilu Khan, who started the ‘80s popular band Renaissance. Did you always want to follow in your father’s footsteps?
Well, I have been surrounded by music for as long as I remember. So yes, my foray into professional music was inevitable. However, one particular interview of my idol Tom Misch was very influential. It was before he became the internationally renowned artist he is today. He talked about how he’d come back from school and make a beat almost every day. How if he wasn’t producing, he didn’t feel right. I was about 14 or 15 back then, and I had just started getting into music production. I found his work ethic so inspiring, especially because he talked about it so casually, so naturally. He just had to produce; he didn’t know what else to do. I loved that and I soon became obsessed with the process myself.
You have just turned 20. Your singles have made waves on the international platform, drawing acclaim, solidifying your position as a promising indie musician. How far do you want to go?
I am wildly ambitious. I want to make it to the very top. I don’t want to compare myself to the regional scene; I want to compare myself to the international scene. I want to exceed every expectation. I can’t understate how fulfilling it felt to know I’m going into my 20s having found my passion, having found my purpose. I also don’t just want to be a singer/songwriter: I want to score movies, advertisements; I want to write movies one day too. I want to write for other people, produce for other people. I just want to dive headfirst into it all and never look back.
You were raised in Dhaka, shaped by its idiosyncrasies and inadequacies. Talk about your emotional bond to the city.
Every Dhakite has his own personal relationship with Dhaka. It’s not an easy place to grow up in. Everybody has that love/hate view. If I’m being totally honest with you, I hated many things about growing up there. Particularly the safety aspect of it, I just wanted to be able to be free, to be able to roam the streets at night. However it’s only after I left Bangladesh that I fell madly in love with it. You don’t know what you got till it’s gone. We have such kind, warm, sincere people. We have such a rich and diverse artistic culture and history. We dream. After moving away I realized how hard working and dedicated Bangladeshi kids were, my generation is killing it right now. I have a much more mature and nuanced view of Dhaka now. I understand that our shortcomings are the result of a harsh, bloody history. I have full faith that my generation is going to bring lots of positive change, lots of progression.
Are you currently working on an album?
We've released two singles so far, Easier and Sun. The music video for Easier was shot in Dhaka, that's pretty much the song that got my career started. There's a new single coming very soon, and hopefully something even more ambitious after that.