Bangladeshi newcomer Dameer is absolutely nailing the art of utterly charming, smooth bedroom-pop bops at the moment. FFO boy pablo et al, the 19-year-old’s latest drops ‘Sun’ and ‘Believe’ are early teasers from an EP due very soon indeed. Check them out below, and get to know the buzzy up-and-comer via our handy Q&A.
Hi Dameer, how’s it going? What are you up to today?
Hi! I’m knee-deep in midterm exams right now, so I’ve been better! Cases have started going up again in Kuala Lumpur, we’re going into lockdown again, so it’s just bad vibes right now. But I know we’ll get through it. I’ve got my laptop, my books, and my occasionally functional midi keyboard and that’s all I need!
What first drew you to music, did you grow up in a musical household?
I grew up in a super musical household. My dad is the drummer of a pioneering rock/pop band called “Renaissance” (dad plug whaAaaat), so I got to be around that my whole life! There was never a day music wasn’t on in the house. He would frequently gig, and I’d always be there, carrying his drumsticks around, watching on in awe. I picked up the guitar first, I went to a small music school for a while, but I largely learned music independently. That’s when I really started falling in love with music. I had the freedom to explore it by myself and all the time in the world. I taught myself piano, too. My dad then opened up a music school himself, where I learned the drums. Soon I’d meet THAT cousin that shows you a DAW for the first time, and I became obsessed. I had the musical background, I totally geeked out over FL, and I was making demos in no time!
Can you remember the first song you wrote?
The first real singer-songwriter song I wrote and released was Easier, which you can check out the music video for on Youtube, all shot in my hometown! But I wrote tons and tons of from the moment I learnt how to play the guitar. I just can’t remember any of them for the life of me. I remember my first produced and recorded song though, vividly. It’s cringe-inducing. It was actually a rap. The lyrics were super, kind of worryingly emo. The mix was literally painful to listen to. The beat just used miscellaneous (and very outdated) stock FL samples. Think My Chemical Romance meets old-school Ne-Yo but bad.
Does writing songs come naturally to you, or has it been a steep learning curve?
It definitely came naturally to me. Not in the sense that I was immediately good at it, but that I was immediately in love with it. I was writing instrumentals as soon as I learnt the basic chords, I just felt inclined to. The lyric writing comparatively took a while to get comfortable with. I first wrote lyrics in the form of raps, I was and still am a massive Kendrick fan. I think I carry some of those hip-hop teachings into my singer-songwriter stuff too: like maintaining internal rhyme schemes or having a distinct, recognizable cadence, using double entendres etc. I still use those techniques. For example, in my single “Sun” I treated every bar like a hook with distinct rhyme schemes and cadences. “Sun” is a double entendre for “son”. Like most musicians, my writing often depends on what I’m listening to at the time. I was listening to a ton of Motown and a ton of synthpop when I wrote my other single “Believe”. You’ll hear a lot of Stevie Wonder but a lot of Carly Rae Jepsen too in there. Another artist I really got into is Natalia Lafourcade, who inspires me to write a lot of my more Latin-American style stuff. Of course, Bangladeshi music inspires me too. Our traditional music relies heavily on melody and lyrics, the Bengali music cannon is filled with slow-burners and heart-wrenchers. I write quite reactively, which may be why it feels natural.
How would you describe your vibe?
Summer! The sunshine, the grass, the lover, but if you look closer into my lyrics, you’ll often find darker, more, perhaps tragic themes. I write a lot about betrayal, loneliness, about being a bit neurotic, perhaps loving someone quite a bit neurotic, but I wrap it in a layer of honey so I, we, can process these tragic bits more easily.
What’s been the highlight of your time as a musician so far?
Hands down, best time of my life is when I travelled to Berlin to meet my label and record some songs at Red Bull Music Studios. Best week ever. Literally, a dream come true. I took my whole family with me too because my parents told me I wasn’t allowed to go alone. Walking into RBMS was like walking into Hogwarts. I was listening to a ton of Tom Misch too, I kept listening to “Losing My Way” on the plane. God knows how many times I watched that video. The fact that I was able to record there still trips me out. I met Noah Slee there too, he was recording next door! I didn’t even really have any other musician friends at home, so it was so fulfilling to be surrounded by professional creatives. I met people from parts of the music industry I didn’t even know existed. We also went to Hamburg and London. It was so damn multicultural. Here was German label (with employees of various nationalities), flying an 18 year old Bangladeshi all the way to Berlin to make some music. Later we’d be working with some of the biggest music video directors in Malaysia (as I moved to Kuala Lumpur three years ago).
Is being a musician living up to the hype?
It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do so for me it is. I was a really scared, nihilistic kid. I saw both my parents work long, time-melting hours at various office jobs. They worked hard to give my sister and I a great life, but I was very young when I felt like it was at the expense of their own lives. I was also a pretty horrible student, so I concluded that I was either not capable of succeeding, or even if I did, I’d be an overworked corporate. Music was my one way out of it all. I fell in love with it not just because I thoroughly enjoyed it and had a knack for it, but because I felt like it was the only way I could succeed in life on my own terms. It makes every experience I have in the industry that much more meaningful. I try to savour every moment. Not just the obviously fun bits, but every report, every meeting, every email, every schedule, every round of feedback. It’s all hype to me.
Who do you think is the most exciting band or musician around right now?
I think Baby Keem could become a generational icon, but also you never know what King Gizz might do next.
What do you do for fun?
I indulge in a lot of art outside of music, particularly visual arts. I painted a lot in high school. I haven’t done so recently, but I enjoy it immensely, and I’m sure I’ll get into it soon. You can see some of my paintings on my Instagram. I also do photoshoots every now and then with friends, a bunch of my best mates in Bangladesh are photographers. I love films too, and would love to make my own one day. Outside of art in general, I’m painfully extroverted, so I just love talking to and debating with friends. I’m hugely into sports too so I play a lot of football (GGMU), watch a lot of F1, MMA etc. It’s been a lot more watching than playing lately.
What inspires you, both in music and in life?
I have always had plenty of inspiration to take away from my immediate surroundings. All my songs are biographical. They’re all inspired by real moments of tragedy, hope, absurdity and joy. I rarely write from pure imagination or ideology. Fact is way stranger than fiction.
You’ve a new EP on the way, right? How’s it coming along?
I have a lot in store, yes! It’s been a wild ride man. This upcoming project has travelled all around the world. With French producers, German engineers, Malaysian video directors and Bangladeshi typographers, I’m really proud of what we’re cooking up. I can’t wait to show it the world. Stay tuned for more details, things are getting busy now!
Tell us a secret about yourself?
My ex asked me if I still had that book I borrowed and I said no but I actually still have it (yo if you’re reading this you know who you are I got your American Psycho, please take it back I feel bad sorry).
Dameer’s single ‘Believe’ is out now.