In conversation with EIDA

From the ethereal trance of Aurora Dreams to the interstellar realm of Night driver, EIDA has memorialized the fleeting details of everyday life, crafting songs out of the inhibitions of their own lives and the fragments of the world around them.

Sakib Manzur Zihan (lead guitarist), Hassan Munhamanna (song-writer, vocalist), M Samiul Haque (guitarist, vocalist, songwriter), Mohammad Raian Mahbub Rasha (drummer, producer) and Arjo Biswas (bassist) came together in a whirlwind of talent, skill and passion to make up this band that has resonated with many of us.

We sat down with EIDA to get a more in-depth look into the workings and hitches of everything that has set their journey in motion.

What is your inspiration behind starting a band? Did you plan to be in a band from the very beginning?

Almost everyone in the band grew up listening to old Bangladeshi bands, and a lot of inspiration came from their music. That actually helped to keep us all in sync as we experimented with different ideas for our music, and that had been encouraging enough for us to take the leap.

Read more: Looking back at the pioneering bands of Bangladesh

How did the band come together? 

We’ve all had some experience of music with other temporary bands before this. And most of us had performed live before as well. Zihan and Rasha had already worked together as a past band. Samiul knew his way around music production. There weren’t too many hurdles for us to get through. We actually never came together with the intention to form a band, but felt that we gelled well when it came to our taste in music and source of inspiration and so on.

Doing shows underground got us really good feedback and attention. Of course, our taste in music reformed and changed, and soon we wanted to shift to a different direction of music that reflected our own perspective. In the beginning, we wanted to simply see where we could take a possible band in the future. When Samiul was about to leave for abroad, Munhamnna got in touch with him to ask him to spend the last of his days in Dhaka strumming out demos for new song ideas. Zihan just so happened to be visiting him too that day, and we found ourselves playing some really good music together. Rasha joined the band next, he was Zihan’s bandmate before and used to help us during recordings. Arjo is the youngest among us, he has a good experience playing the bass in underground live shows, was a known face, and so we just called him in to play with us one day. And that’s how the band was formed.

What’s the story behind the name of the band?

We wrote our music first. It was when we were taking our song to the studio that we started searching for a name that would suit us. We’re all very simple people and we wanted to be genuine in how we expressed ourselves in our band name. It was during a random conversation between Munhamanna and Samiul, when Munhamanna kept suggesting names asking “eida Kemon” repetitively that Samiul was hit with a light-bulb moment, and took the word eida as a Bengali twist of the actual word ‘eita’ to be our band name. It defines us pretty well actually since we’re people who don’t tend to take ourselves too seriously.

we usually have a great time at the studio, laughing around and whatnot.

What are the most challenging aspects of recording a song? (From the very first idea to the finalizing stage)

We don’t write our songs in the studio, we follow a simple process of sitting together anywhere we can and writing a song. Then we go to a studio and jam out for hours before we get it perfect. We’ve even played overnight to record a single song. We know how different personalities can clash and cause problems sometimes. But since almost everyone’s had past experiences with a band, we’ve all past that stage and understand how to make things work. Rasha is the one who works with the skeleton of the song that we give him, he adds the finishing touches, listens to our input and then sees what works best.

Read more: Great Bangladeshi bands that disappeared after their debut album

What was going on in your mind when the band was recording its first song? Did it deliver as per your expectations?

Everyone always has their own take on a song. So we care a lot about getting everyone’s input into the making of a song. For our first song, we went to the studio with a rough draft of our song ‘In the Blind’, but we soon realized it wasn’t working out within the first 2-3 hours. While on a break, we were just lazing around, playing randomly on the guitar, when Samiul started humming a tune. Munhamanna tried to play that tune on the guitar, then Rasha came to add some chords to it. The song suddenly took a definite shape, and we ended up producing the song in 4 hours. And that’s how ‘Aurora Dreams’ came to be. It was truly an out of the world experience.

What genre do you mostly follow for your music? Why?

We don’t really follow a specific genre. Our philosophy is more or less in tune with the underground music world. Artistic integrity is very important and there’s not much inclination towards making commercial music. We always wanted to make good music that’s going to connect with a lot of people. We like to stay within the boundaries of indie, pop and synth-wave. Making music that feels real is our key goal. John Meyer is a huge influence on the type of music we want to make.

What’s your process of writing lyrics?

For almost all songs, Samiul plays the songs first on the guitar, and then tends to hums them before catching ideas for words and phrases that fits the song. He’s very fast at writing the lyrics. Then Munhamanna finishes up the lyric writing. For example, the song “What It Means”, felt like a song about shy people who are unable to express their feelings to Samiul. He communicated the song to Munhamanna who finished the lyrics with that concept in mind. “Nightdriver” has a different backstory to it. For “Nightdriver”, Samiul only worked on the instrumental part and left the lyrics to Munhamanna completely. Even though he tried to take his time to do justice to the tune, he ended up having to rush it on the day we were to record the song, but it all worked out for the best in the end.

The tune of “Nightdriver” gave a feeling of one’s wandering thoughts when stuck in a traffic jam, so that’s what we based the lyrics on. “Aurora Dreams” gave the sense of losing oneself in inspiration while “What It Means” felt like a feeling of love and so on. So more often than not, we start off by sounding out a tune and then sensing the mood of the tune to write the lyrics.

Who’s (or who are) your inspiration as a music artist and why?

There are a lot of inspirations for us, everyone’s influence more or less coincides when it comes to Bangladesh bands; be it Nemesis, Watson Brothers, you name it. We’re pretty much geeks when it comes to those type of music. In case of international music, our tastes can be a little different. Munhamanna and Samiul listen to metal, Zihan listens to grunge and Arjo likes contemporary music. We all like old bands as well, like Blink 182 and Simple Plan.

What do you want to express through your music?

We’re not really ideological. We don’t focus on philosophical or serious topics. We keep things very lighthearted and sing about everyday stuff. The song “Find me”, though, does have a different feel to it. It’s about how you feel as a soul departed towards people you’ve loved and left behind. It’s sombre but not really dark. “Aurora Dreams” on the other hand, has inspirational undertones.

Can you tell us a little about your most recent song: In the Blind?

We realized there was scope to try out making what you will call emo songs in our music. although it’s not really pop it can actually convey relatable emotions pretty well. So when Munhamanna asked Samiul to see if we can make music along this line, Samiul came up with some lyrics to go with this genre. The song is about how love fades away, simply put. It is a Cliché, but it’s something people can connect to.

Are there any stories from behind the scenes, or during recording. What are your most memorable moments?

Arjo takes the cake here. He’s a weird but talented kid. And he definitely brings a weird perspective to our group. We even keep a list of weird things Arjo says. But we’re all people with a good sense of humor, and share a love for comedy. So we usually have a great time at the studio, laughing around and whatnot.

As you’re going on hiatus, what can your fans expect from you in the future?

Well, as we all know, Samiul is leaving soon. And we are too attached to our current coordination to try anything else with this band. We do have other songs drafted but we’re not going to plan live shows without the whole group. We’re taking a break now for a few months but may release the drafted songs online in the future. And there may be an indie documentary with studio footage in the works.

Co-Authored by Rafid Zaman and Mashiyat Iqbal.

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