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Kabul Dreams: "Don't Listen To Anyone ..."

... about Afghanistan's first Rock band after 30 years ... Thanks Sabine for this great post. Published May 28 2013.

  by Sabine

Well, like most Europeans, I don’t know that much about Kabul. In my mind the name equals destruction, remnants from the war, women in burkas and the depression of a rigorous Islamic leadership. Presumably this is part of the real Afghanistan – but there is also another side of life: Colorful, creative and cheerful.

Kabul Dreams definitely belong to the beautiful side: They are Afghanistan’s first indie rock band in 30 years. Sulyman Qardash (songwriting, vocals, guitars), Siddique Ahmed (bass) and Mujtaba Habibi (drums) come from three different provinces of the country, belong to three different ethnic groups and speak three different languages. But they are united by their love for music, their intention to express themselves and to show the world a different face of their home country.

Although they have already been very successful with performing in their local languages, they also write songs in English. They started out by playing at regional festivals, but soon gained international attention by using the internet as source of promotion: In 2010 they performed at a student forum organized by the NATO, in 2011 they travelled to Estonia, Europe for the first time and finally, in February 2012, they started to collect money via Sellaband to produce their first album. It was produced by Sulyman Qardasch, singer of the band. Mixing and mastering happened in San Diego.

There are two things about Kabul Dreams that are really important to the band: first of all: Rock is something completely new in Afghanistan. Kabul Dreams can’t compete with the popularity of Afghan pop or traditional, and they have a very limited audience in their home country. The second: Kabul Dreams is an independent band in the full sense of the meaning. Until they started the crowdfunding project on Sellaband, they financed everything by themselves and didn’t get any financial assistance or benefit from any source.

They had rough times with lack of places to practice, lack of equipment and lack of venues to perform. But today, Kabul Dreams have been able to realize their goal of a full length record: With the support of 117 believers and some friends in Moscow who helped to produce it for as little money as possible, they are passionate to overcome all these problems with the release of “Plastic Words” on April 22th, 2013. The album contains about 12 songs in English, you can listen to 6 of them at Sellaband, watch the video for “Air” on youtube – or (much better!) buy the whole thing at iTunes.

The songs are melancholic in a way, dreamy, and Sulyman’s voice reminds me a little of Placebo’s Brian Molko (which is a compliment). The lyrics are about friendship, beautiful days – and you almost forget about the origin of the songs. This could be any powerful, reflecting indie band from Great Britain or the USA – until you stumble about lyrics like “Bombs and explosions/ are not scaring me “ and it suddenly shocks you wide aware to where these lines come from.

Today, after three years of work, a growing group of young Afghans is getting excited about Kabul Dreams and even a small rock scene across its different genres is establishing. With “Plastic Words” people in the world are listening to the voice of the Afghan youth. They are listening to those who want peace and prosperity for their country and are sick and tired of war, terrorist and international conflicts being fought in their homeland. And this might be their biggest effort : Kabul Dreams shows the colorful, lively face of Afghanistan and they won’t stop.