‘Aurthohin came back for you’
It is rare for a musician to receive the level of irrevocable and unconditional love from the fans that Saidus Salehin Khaled, popularly known Bassbaba Sumon, has accumulated in his illustrious career.
A bona fide legend in Bangladesh's band music industry, he is a virtuoso on the bass guitar, earning him the moniker of Bassbaba.
The beloved Aurthohin frontman has beaten cancer, and recently, a deadly spinal injury after spending the better part of three years in tremendous pain while in recovery.
Now, the musician is back on track, fueled by the love of his fans, and his passion for music – as he talks to The Daily Star for more.
We are grateful for your time. How are you doing health-wise?
I am doing much well than before, by the grace of Allah. I am totally cancer-free. My spinal problem is close to being resolved. I can sit or walk like regular people now. I spent most of my time lying in bed from the pain, for the last two and a half years. I need two more surgeries, and after that, I will hopefully be totally fine.
Your impromptu performance in Raef Al Hasan Rafa's wedding was adored and embraced online by fans across the country. What was your reaction after receiving so much love from the audience?
It was definitely overwhelming. I had no plan of singing that night – I just went there to attend the ceremony. When Rafa asked me to sing something, I really got nervous. I couldn't remember a single song that I could sing!
After the performance, only a handful of people clapped -- most of them were silent, as if they were in a trance. It was not because we had an amazing performance, but because after a long time, they saw the three of us perform together.
So many people (including me) had doubts about me being able to perform on stage anymore, but I did. The response I got was unimaginable! It was a much needed moral boost for me. It gave me more confidence. Aurthohin's fans are always very loyal, and they just proved that once again.
What is the status-quo of Aurthohin at the moment? Do you plan on recording any new music soon?
I have already started recording some singles for my solo project. 2-3 solo songs will be released in September, October and November.
After that, our fans will get the thing that they desire the most- Aurthohin's comeback track! We hope to release it in December.
The primary reason for the delay is me not having sung or played the bass for the better part of three years. When it comes to Aurthohin, I want to give it my hundred percent. Thus, I have to practice, and my band has to practice together.
When we are satisfied with our performance, only then we will release the song. We hope to be. When the Covid situation becomes normal, Aurthohin will start doing live shows again. That's the plan.
You have been through a lot in life, and powered through them with sheer willpower – and still insist that 'life is beautiful'. What helps you stay this positive?
I always believe that happiness is a choice. I know it's very hard to stick to it, but I believe it. You have to have sheer willpower. I think, I inherited my willpower and positivity from my father, he has more willpower than me. Mentally, he is the strongest human being that I have ever seen.
Have you followed the local music scene lately? Are there any new Bangladeshi artistes that you like?
Unfortunately, for the past 2-3 years, I couldn't follow any music scene, be it local or international. I was very sick, and in severe pain, most of the time. I did not listen to any music. Now that I'm back, I'll definitely make a big playlist. One thing I know for sure is that Sonar Bangla Circus's songs will be on that playlist.
Over the years, streaming has replaced the need of physical disks in music. It has also made releasing songs much more accessible to aspiring musicians. However, few barriers to entry might mean an over-abundance of music with variable quality in the industry. How do you see this trend?
This is a part of evolution, and we will have to accept it. There's nothing 'wrong' or 'right' about it. Currently, anyone can release their songs, and anyone can listen to them.
The real caveat for musicians is that the amount of money they are earning from the streaming platforms is very low. A five-time Grammy award-winning musician told me that the money that these services pay is miniscule compared to the amount of streams and listeners that they have.
This is very unfortunate. These days if a musician or a band wants to make money, they have to do live shows. If they want to spread their music everywhere then they have to depend on YouTube, streaming services or other social media. I hope that this predicament comes to an amicable solution for musicians.
You have collaborated with many international musicians over the years. Whom did you enjoy working with the most?
This is a very difficult to answer. Everybody was friendly and good-humored when we worked together. However, I have to mention about Robert 'Bubby' Lewis and Josh Cohen -- they are not only amazing musicians and friends, they are more like my brothers. I really enjoyed collaborating with them.
Do you have any message for your fans?
Dear fans, friends and well-wishers, in my long musical journey, you have always been by my side. I got sick and disappeared from music so many times, but you never gave up on me. You prayed for me and sent me positive thoughts.
I will never forget that. I love you all. Aurthohin is back – and it came back not for me, not for Shishir, not for Mark, and not for Mahaan. Aurthohin came back for you!