EP REVIEW/INTRODUCING: DAMEER – For We Are Distant

The theme of thoughtfulness runs throughout ‘For We Are Distant’ – the melodious debut release by Dameer.

Whilst so many of us are separated, spending much of our time alone and a lot warier of worldwide goings-on than we were a year ago, Dhaka born Dameer arises to explore an assortment of musical ideas, ranging from the deeply political to the inner conflicts of estrangement.

Kicking off with ‘Sun’ a marshy mix of synthesizers and guitars, Dameer’s infatuation with the sounds of the ’80s is conspicuous and instantly affirms the semi-bedroom pop nature of the seven-track EP. The jangly arrangement of instruments throughout establishes a brand of new-wave inspired pop that sits comfortably in the modern era. “Why don’t you give up, let the sun come up?” the optimistic chorus conveys, urging us to stay positive and shed our troubles, if only until the end of the song. The funky bassline backing, a counterpoint to the melody at times, certainly calls to mind comparisons with the earlier works of Duran Duran.

The idea of distance, Dameer has said, became a lot more familiar with people during the past year and, even though this EP was written before the pandemic took hold, it’s message rings perhaps a little more true with listeners. “I try to intently sense the world around me and siphon words out of it,” Dameer has stated previously and this observational tactic comes into its own on the EP highlight and greatly understated track ‘Keen’. Here, Dameer’s voice and creativity are put to work with the backing of an airy electric guitar, a doo-wop like vocal and a stripped back ambience boasting his admirable know-how in songwriting.

‘For We Are Distant’ is easy listening for sure, but it challenges the listener with multiple reflective attributes. Combining East and West characteristics with the use of the Bashi, a traditional Bangladeshi flute all whilst dipping its toes into both the jazz idiom ‘Believe’ and the world of Bossa-Nova ‘Air’ to whip up a smooth serving of experimental lo-fi.

Ahead of the EP’s release, we delved into Dameer‘s world and got to know him a little bit better, here’s what we found out…

Your EP is entitled ’For We Are Distant’ – whereabouts does that title come from?

‘For We Are Distant’ was inspired by my experience of moving from my home, Dhaka, Bangladesh to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia when I was 16. It’s about being geographically distant from my old home, and emotionally distant from my new home. This all took place as I was coming of age, slowly entering adulthood. This record is about trying to find meaning and identity when the world around you is constantly shifting.

Then when the pandemic hit, that sentiment was turned up about a thousand notches. Distance was everyone’s new roommate, isolation was everyone’s new pastime activity. I feel like ‘For We Are Distant’ has turned into a message of survival, of commitment – I wrote these songs for you for we are distant.

You said you were surrounded by music growing up in Dhaka, who were your biggest influences growing up?

I grew up with a lot of Motown and 60s/70s/80s pop because that’s what my parents love – Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, The Carpenters, Hall and Oates, Blondie etc. I am super influenced by those artists and I think that’s pretty evident in my music, especially  ́80s artists! My friends and I used to listen to a lot of heavy stuff when we were very young – metal, nu-metal, classic and alt-rock. In my mid-teens I fell deeply in love with hip hop and jazz, I’d say those are still my most listened to genres and they inform my writing and production a lot.

Lately, I’ve been really getting into classical and folk music from around the world, but especially Bangladesh. I’m sure we’ll see hints of that in future songs!

You cover a wide range of topics in your music from politics to mental health – is there a topic you’ve yet to cover that you’d be keen to?

Politics and mental health, both individually and in relation to each other, are such broad and deeply human phenomena that I’m sure I’ll be exploring them for the rest of my life. I write very reactively, I try to intently sense the world around me and siphon words out of it, many new topics and ideas will spring naturally from that!

As I step into my 20s I am sure I’ll find many things to write about regarding commitment, passion, self-cultivation, money etc. I’m studying economics and political science at university right now and I keep finding so many fascinating ideas about how power and resources switch hands and the effects that has on the general and individual human experience.

How would you describe the music that you make?

Sincere.

You’re a multi-talented instrumentalist, where did you start?

I started with the guitar when I was about 8 years old. My uncle was moving into a smaller house when I was like 12 and didn’t have space to keep his old keyboard so he gave it to us. I taught myself piano and then also took drum lessons for a few months.

When I moved to Malaysia, my friends gave me a little “Bangla Kit”, full of little knick-knacks and instruments you can find around Dhaka. In it, they bought me a Bashi, a traditional bamboo flute (they cost like 2-3 dollars), and I taught myself how to play that too! Would love to learn the saxophone or trumpet next.

What are your plans to tour your upcoming release?

There are unfortunately no set plans to gig because the pandemic will take a lot more time to cool down and for life to go back to normal. By the time that happens, I’ll be in Montreal for university so you’ll definitely find me gigging there eventually!

What are your plans for future releases?

I would love to explore more genres and collaborate with more artists, but before I commit to any of that I’m focused on seeing this debut release through, it’s a big big moment in my life and I wanna savour every second.

All I can say is I won’t be going away anytime soon.

Harrison Smith
Writer

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