Musiqa Mustaqilla talked recently with Sulyman Qardash, lead singer and guitarist of the band Kabul Dreams from Afghanistan about leaving their home country, pursuing music professionally and recording their second album in San Francisco.
Emerged back in 2008, Kabul Dreams consist of Sulyman Qardash (Lead Singer, Guitarist), Raby Adib (Drummer) and Siddique Ahmad (Bassist). Although their heart will always be in Kabul, they came to the US, specifically to San Francisco, in order to pursue their music in a more professional way. Their first album “Plastic Words” was recorded in Kabul. Qardash remembers that they had to start from scratch. It was difficult to find suitable studios and equipments, but nevertheless they managed to record their first Album and send it to Alan Sanderson in San Diego, who mixed “Plastic Words“. Sanderson has quite a reputation because he already recorded for bands such as Counting Crows, and Weezer. He even worked with The Rolling Stones on the album “Bridges to Babylon“. Kabul Dreams were very grateful to Sanderson, and he will work with them on the second album again.
Talking with Qardash about their new album and the experiences they made since they came to the US, he says that:
“The context of the Album is gonna be about the experiences we had coming here. We started here from scratch. You are a complete new person and no one knows you. As immigrants we had to learn a lot, and we had to establish ourselves as individuals.“
„The songs will mostly be based on the experiences we had, including the traveling. Another subject will be the context of home, and being nostalgic about the situation in Afghanistan, about everything we had. A lot of places where we played back in 2009 and 2010 are now closed down or were bombed, all those changes including personal changes are gonna be part of the album.” In Afghanistan, they had a lot of support and many young people supported the band and their music. Qardash remembers that
“Although playing Rock N’ Roll was not easy, a lot of people supported us, especially young people. It is a fact, that if you do something new, not every one is gonna like you and you have to cope with that.”
While gaining support from younger audiences, they had of course troubles with playing this kind of music in Kabul. After Qardash started the band, this was the time when he started to get death threats. Still, they pursued their music because this is what Qardash always wanted to do.
Although the band had in the past some songs about political issues, as the song Air which was about the bombings in Kabul, they don’t consider themselves a core and core political band, although they included in their album “a couple of songs too where we were making some sort of statement, but we were never talking about a certain person or a certain issue.”
Qardash grew up with Rock n’ Roll music, and one of his favorite bands were the Sex Pistols. He grew up in Uzbekistan, and that is where he got in touch with this music for the first time. He learned the guitar, he had friends who were listening to this music and made himself familiar with this music. He remembers his friends in Uzbekistan “I had always two kinds of friends, one that were more open minded and the ones that were a bit more conservative. They never hang out with each other but I hang with both friends.” Thus growing up with two worlds, he learned how to maneuvre himself in between, and music became his passion. Although their sound is very much inspired by different bands such as Oasis, and Jet, they are finding their own voice and sound.
Although they are singing both in Dari such as in the song “Sadae Man“ (my voice) and English, the second album will be sung entirely in English, although Qardash notes that “We always do some songs in our own language.”
Recently a film was made about the band called “Radio Dreams directed by Babak Jalali and written by Jalali and Aida Ahdiany. This film is about “an Iranian writer who struggles to pursue his ambitious goal of bringing together Metallica and Kabul Dreams”. The film is mostly about the band Kabul Dreams.
For the band it was not easy to play Rock N’ Roll in Afghanistan. They played in the streets of Kabul, where children, young people and old people listened to this kind of music for the first time. They played in cultural centers and universities as they struggled to make music a full time job. But after a while, they did not find other venues where they could perform and performing their songs live is one of their main aims, explains Qardash.
“If you are deciding to create a band, this means that you want to play live. This is what keeps us motivated. We had to find our own market and this is why we are in the US.” They are currently in the second stage of finishing their new album. After they have successfully finished the kickstarter campaign for their album, they will now start mixing the album. They hope to release it early next year in January or February. In it’s core it will still be their own style and as Qardash says “It is still Rock n’ Roll”.