"Radios and media didn’t believe in my urban sound"
Canadian superstar, Master-D, continues to revolutionise the music scene with the release of his debut EP, Jibon (2022).
Master-D’s career spans over a decade, hitting the ground running with ensemble The Bilz & Kashif.
Releasing smash anthems like ‘Tere Nasha’ (2010) and ‘Tere Nainon Mein’ (2013), the group made a name for themselves within the urban Desi landscape.
However, going solo has reinvented Master-D as a performer and musician, especially in the type of music he puts out.
Focusing on the Bangla music scene specifically, he has coined a new genre of music labelled ‘Bangla Urban’.
Pioneering this sound, he has delivered countless smash hits working with artists such as Mumzy, Bohemia and Haji Springer.
The musician knows no bounds. For over five years, his international audience has been calling for a mass project which Master-D delivered in the form of Jibon.
The six-track EP is a collectively soothing piece of work. Standout tracks like ‘Ar Eshona’ and the popular single ‘Shomoy’ emphasise the singer’s range of vocals.
The artist also plays around with different tempos, percussive instruments and beats to produce a versatile EP, worthy of its massive praise.
DESIblitz spoke with the creative musician to dive deeper into Jibon and get an idea of his meteoric rise within the industry.
Can you tell us about your upbringing and family life?
My upbringing was very traditional by western standards I guess.
We were always close to our South Asian culture and heritage.
Things were great at home and we really grew up with strong family values.
Being an immigrant in Canada, strong work ethics were crucial for us and that’s definitely something I keep in my daily life.
How did your love for music begin?
My mother loved music, she was the one that taught me to play my first instrument, the harmonium.
By doing that she managed to instil the love of music in me from a young age.
And what’s not to love, music is probably the most powerful form of artistic expression known to human beings.
“I felt that she knew that life is very intimately connected with music and melody.”
Maybe that’s what kept her going and that’s probably what keeps me going for so long in this industry!
Life is music and music is life, to me at least. It’s something you need to appreciate and love this form of art as it will keep you going.
How would you describe your sound and what elements make you unique?
My sound is a mix of traditional musical influences from Bangladesh and East India, along with modern pop/urban from North America.
Being part of The Bilz & Kashif and creating monumental hits that are still being played today definitely motivates me to continue to experiment and bring hits to the Bangla music industry.
Growing up in North America, I’ve been influenced by what makes us move.
But my particular “sound” tends to be very melodic and I gravitate towards memorable hooks.
I always want to ensure I incorporate some sort of live instrument element too since I’ve been professionally trained to play the tabla.
I’m used to complex percussive arrangements, so I try to push boundaries and let the fans enjoy something different.
Which artists or songs inspired you as a musician?
During my childhood, I was greatly inspired by Bollywood like R.D Burman and A.R Rehman. But, traditional Bangla music was always part of our household.
Growing up, I heard great producers like Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, Diddy, Scott Storch, Dr Dre and Pharrel who really re-invented the scene. They really influenced my vibe.
It wasn’t until much after I graduated from college that I connected with DJ Vicious (who now manages me).
He used to DJ the hottest parties in Montreal and all over the USA.
“It really got me into that RnB/hip hop and pop sound.”
We used to just jam in my studio and work on Hindi remixes which eventually led me to produce original music for local artists.
Eventually, this led to international hits with The Bilz & Kashif and then as Master-D in the Bangla music industry.
Tell us about your debut EP ‘Jibon’. What motivated you to create it?
Since I went solo, I focused on releasing only Bangla singles as I was trying to make an impact in the Bangla music industry.
It wasn’t an easy path, as labels, radios and media didn’t believe in my urban sound.
Once my single ‘Tumi Jaio Na’ blew up with over 30 million views, then collaborating with Nusraat Faria with over 20 million views, the calls started to come in to produce tracks for other artists.
Then the pandemic hit and I was producing so much music that I just needed to share with the world.
So I decided to put out an EP that fans have been asking for, for a very long time.
As far as the songs that I included in Jibon, I am trying to bring focus on what is most important in all of our lives.
I have experienced enough challenges so far in my own personal life and I’m sure many people out there too during the pandemic.
So I wanted to create a wide range of emotions with this EP.
It goes from a real high like ‘Say Yes’ to ‘Shomoy’ which is dark and deep and makes sure you cherish what you have to ‘Elka Mon’ which depicts that last chance you have.
That’s why the cover is so unique – which I’ve got a ton of compliments on from my usual releases!
Which tracks were your favourite to make?
‘Shomoy’ was a true pleasure to make.
Firstly because of the classic orchestral arrangements that I composed for this song – something that brings a whole new live element to it.
Then came the visuals that my director Peezee brought to life. I wanted something dramatic but shocking.
“It’s a deep intellectual and moral theme yet almost like a short movie.”
The song almost feels like a film score but hey I’m singing in a coffin – who does that? Ha!
What has the reaction been like to the EP?
So far the fans have just DM’ing me on Instagram that they have this EP on repeat.
They know me for hits and having a good time, but I feel people get too caught up in viral songs, views and stats and forget that artists are here to create emotions, feel and bring creativity to the scene.
Stop and smell the music maybe!
My intention is to make people reflect that it’s just not about “having fun”.
I want them to feel like they are being touched by a serious work of art with clear social and cultural significance.
I want to elevate the fans’ listening palette and not just keep chasing the same song, or wanting a part 2 or 3 of my viral hits. Bring music “value” to people’s lives.
As a musician, how do you deal with creative block?
I might sound conceited here, but frankly, I don’t ever get creative blocks.
Maybe I take my frustrations and stress out by composing music.
“But personally every single time I sit down in the studio to write something I get flooded with ideas.”
Some are good, some are bad and some are great, I bounce them off my manager or Kashif sometimes.
If anything, I don’t have enough time in a day to create all the music that I hear inside my mind on a regular basis. Maybe I need a song about that!
How would you describe Bangla music at the moment?
It definitely needs more awareness and risk takers from labels and brands who are decision-makers in the Bangla music industry.
I feel like we got the tiger by the tail (as the saying in North America goes).
They don’t want to let go but want to have a very firm hold on the same traditional sound or rock music they are used to.
I mean rock music came from somewhere to stay, so why not have room for pop, hip hop, dancehall and everything else the youth crave.
The evolution of music is essential for the Bangla music scene in order to put us up on the charts, the brands and the overall industry.
That’s just how I think and my label Bilz Music thinks.
We make music for an international audience, breaking barriers, and crossing over to charts that will bring light to Bangladesh.
Same reason why I jumped to help launch Spotify in Bangladesh and I keep promoting that platform.
Bangla music is definitely evolving since my song ‘Tumi Jaio Na’ went viral and not only because of the song but bringing an American visual to the industry.
It just caused a spark in wanting more artists to push the envelope so that makes me happy to pioneer that movement.
I believe that we the artists, along with the Bengali showbiz people, have to really come together to help bring even more powerful and masterful products to the public.
And I don’t mean to replicate the same viral song over and over, but embrace new ideas and sounds that can help put Bangla music on the map.
We see change is happening in music – look at the Latin market and the recent explosion of African music (Afrobeats).
They are on a whole new level, bringing their sound, their culture to the mainstream.
Even the Indian & Punjabi music scene has exploded since our time with The Bilz & Kashif, with Desi hip hop artists charting all over the globe. So it’s very possible!
Which artists would you love to collaborate with and why?
If Shakira is reading this right now I would like her management to give me a call right away. Lol!
One of the reasons I would really like to work with her is the adversity that she had to overcome to become the successful artist that she is today.
I remember listening to one of her interviews and she mentioned how people didn’t quite believe in her before she became a world-known artist.
“I also love how different she is from everyone else, and the distinct characteristics of her voice.”
The longevity of her career and staying power is really impressive to me.
In the Latin market, she has managed to put out music spanning three solid decades. At the end of the day I just like her, she just does it for me.
What are your ambitions within music?
Alright, first of all, what I want the most is for Bangla Urban music to be recognised worldwide. Not just among Bengali people, but also among other ethnic groups and nationalities.
That is my dream and I am going to continue to work tirelessly in order to help achieve this goal.
Secondly, I want the success for myself and others in the Bangla Urban music scene to break…no, sorry to shatter the ceiling at the top.
It’s definitely a long road, but no lesser success is acceptable after all the work me and my label, Bilz Music, has put in to break that sound in the Bangla music industry.
Also, still getting fans creating stories on Instagram with The Bilz & Kashif albums always puts a smile on my face.
As for future projects, I definitely have a few collaboration tracks in the pipeline, one with a Bangladeshi singer, and another with a UK artist.
I’m also looking to release a Hindi EP to cater to my fans who can’t stop singing my Hindi songs from back in the day.
With over 18,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, there’s no doubt that Master-D’s popularity will continue to grow.
Jibon has already solidified itself within the Bangla music scene but it continues to thrive with those from different backgrounds.
Not only does Master-D want to succeed as an artist, but he wants to put Bangla music and Bangla artists on the map.
This highlights his ambitious nature and importance to upcoming musicians and the South Asian music scene.
There’s plenty of excitement on the horizon to see what the singer has in store for his fans next.
Listen to Jibon and more of Master-D’s terrific songs here.