Laisfita, the all-girl band from Bangladesh, is creating waves in the country’s pop music scene. Touted as the “first-ever professionally managed girl band”, it’s set to cross national boundaries through musical collaborations with regional and international music performers.
Comprising Antora Rahman, Mustarin Ahmed Sheetal, Shunanda Sharmin and Ferdousi Moumita, the four winners of Bangladesh’s first-ever female music reality show, Sunsilk Divas – Season 1, the band’s debut track Swapno Ekhon Amar Haatey has been received well at home and globally. Released by ArtistSpread (a joint artiste and music content distribution platform of Sony DADC India and Creinse Limited Bangladesh) and composed by popular Bangladeshi singer Hridoy Khan, the peppy track is dedicated to dreams and their power which lie in one’s own hands.
The four-member band, coming together from diverse backgrounds, is reportedly set to perform for a Bollywood music album, release an international number featuring a leading reggae artist, perform live with an iconic international female pop star, along with live events across Bangladesh.
Interestingly, the name Laisfita comes from the Bangladeshi word for ribbons. In an email interaction with indianexpress.com, the band members, who are in their early 20s, share their love for Bangladeshi music, their camaraderie and why working with a global icon like Indian musician A R Rahman is their dream.
Can you describe your journey as part of the Bangladeshi music reality show to having your own band?
Ferdousi: Taking part in Bangladesh’s first female music reality show was itself an experience for us. We were very nervous during our auditions and did not really expect to make it all the way. We had so many challenges; we had to prepare for each episode with new songs and maintain our quality. We discovered new friends, who shared our passion for music, but at the same time we had to compete with each other. Above all, we feel lucky that we took the step to register in Sunsilk Divas. It has taught us so much.
What’s with the name Laisfita?
Antora: Laisfita has been an integral part of mainstream hair styling for girls in Bangladesh. Laisfita is a strip of cloth, available in different colours, used while braiding one’s hair. Since it is the first professional female band of our country, we felt Laisfita would carry the symbolism of young women and their aspirations, embedded within the root of Bangladeshi life. Laisfita is also a symbol of playfulness and energy.
Tell us about the band’s camaraderie.
Antora: We come from varied backgrounds and have different tastes in music. Thus, the first challenge is to arrive at a common ground and so far, we have made great strides. We have learnt so much in our journey, such as syncing with one another and, most importantly, sacrificing for each other because we all have a different vocal pitch or scale. In the competition stage, it was all about oneself while as a band it is about all four of us and looking out for each other.
How do you describe the music scene in Bangladesh for Indian audiences?
Sheetal: The people of Bangladesh love music. The musical evolution started during the 1971 war of independence, when artistes used music to speak about the struggle for freedom. Since then, apart from cricket, music has been a medium that brings together people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity and political views. Bangladesh has a rich culture in music and covers wide genres, starting from Baul, Classical, Rock, Pop, Metal to even Hip-Hop, which is emerging.
When it comes to world music, perhaps not much is known about Bangladeshi music except Rabindra Sangeet and Baul. Laisfita could be an attempt to change that?
Shunanda: Yes, indeed! Bangladeshi music, to the rest of the world, is about the elegance of folk music, Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Sangeet. And we are proud of it. But beyond this, pop and rock music, through individual performers and bands, have seen successful milestones in Bangladesh and to some extent in parts of India, but not the rest of the world. A rare success in terms of pop/rock representation of Bangladeshi music in India has been James (Bangladeshi rockstar), who gave a few big hits few years back in Bollywood.
We haven’t yet succeeded in making our pop and rock music felt in a big way in India and rest of the world. And this is where we want to make an impression. In addition, as the first female professional pop band of the country, we want to set example for more female musicians to build a career in music. Moreover, parents who don’t want their daughters to pursue music because of societal mindsets will also get encouraged to support their ambitions.
Who inspires each one of you?
Shunanda: Though we have different musical tastes, from Laisfita’s perspective, the Spice Girls are a common point of inspiration. As for individual preferences, I am inspired by Britney Spears, Sheetal by Anne Marie, Antora by Adele and Elita Karim (Bangladesh); and Moumita by Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Runa Laila (Bangladesh).
Antora: We would also like the opportunity to work with A R Rahman as he is a musical genius and has truly flown the flag of South Asia as a whole in all parts of the world. He is such an inspiration.
With so much happening in the online music scene, how do you stay relevant?
Moumita: With music freely available on the internet, it has taken away the pride of holding a cassette, LP or CD. Another drawback it that, the shelf life of each song has been reduced, because of millions of tracks available on the web. Nevertheless, the internet has played a big role in spreading music to the farthest corners of the world. Our song from Bangladesh can be enjoyed in Alaska or Argentina. We, too, have been introduced to so many genres and styles, which influence our journey. The beauty of music online is that it is limitless; however, it’s the quality that counts and makes language a second priority.