To some, music is more than means of relaxation or distraction. It has the power to bring like-minded individuals together, it is a fuel that ignites creativity, and it creates an identity beyond a nine-to-five job.
Anirudha Anu, Shahnaj Parvin Jonaki, Mark Ratul Sinha and Anoy Chowdhury are a group of friends who recognised the power of music and created a platform beloved by enthusiasts, Hatirpool Sessions.
Hatirpool Sessions, primarily, is an open stage for aspiring musicians where they can share their works and promote themselves in Bangladesh's music scene.
Anirudha, Jonaki, Ratul and Anoy often jammed together. They live around the Hatirpool belt of the capital.
"The four of us were having tea at a local tea stall and talking about music one day. It was during the end of 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. We realised how much it meant to us on that day, and how precious these moments were. We decided to document our sessions together," said Jonaki.
The quartet realised that the best way to document their jamming sessions was to film them. They did a test run at Jonaki's terrace, the usual hangout spot for the group.
"After cassettes and CDs became outdated, the music industry in our country stagnated. YouTube definitely helped with its revival, but it caused a major shift in our habits. Presently, we are more accustomed to watching music videos than simply listening to music. This is why we opted to shoot videos rather than recording our sessions," said Aniruddha.
They uploaded their first video 'Jokhon', performed by Aniruddha and Ratul, on social media. The video had a very raw and candid feel to it.
Their first upload was a massive success and they knew the show had to go on. They reached out to their friends and their extended circle for collaborations. Since Jonaki's house is located at Hatirpool, they named the platform Hatirpool Sessions.
"We released about 20 songs by 20 different artists in our first season. All of them were shot on my terrace. Not all the videos we made were hits, but we knew that we were growing," said Jonaki.
The most popular song from the first season was the Bangla cover of Joan Baez's 'Donna Donna' by Aniruddha and Chetona Rahman Vasha. The lyrics were translated by Aniruddha, Jonaki and Mizan.
Some of their other hits include 'Obidito, Jano Ki' by Syed Farhad, 'Chitrokor' by Muiz Mahfuz, 'Shob Plastic er Putul' by Sunny and Debashish.
After being inactive for a year due to the pandemic, Hatirpool Sessions resumed its activities in March, 2022. This time around they were a lot more organised.
The members of Hatirpool Sessions now have designated roles and responsibilities.
Anirudha takes on the roles of music director and sound engineer, Anoy is responsible for the video production, Jonaki is the creative producer, and Ratul serves as the co-producer.
The second season has recorded 12 songs so far, among which ten were originals by various up-and-coming artists.
They also formed an in-house band called 'Houseband', where they performed originals and covers.
"Houseband is not like a traditional band with fixed members. Instead, it features musicians with expertise in various genres. We invite them to perform based on the song we are covering," explained Jonaki.
The usual line-up consists of Tapesh Chakraborty, Chetona Rahman Vasha, Sayad Azmaine, Samin Yasar, Hasin Aryan, Dipto Rifat Arefin and Dipta Pritom Nath.
Samin was introduced to Hatirpool Sessions through one of his friends. He played guitar in the cover of Norah Jones's 'Man of the hour' in the first season.
"Hatirpool Sessions is one of the most fulfilling projects I've ever been a part of. It's rare to find a group of likeminded people working together with the same set of goals," said Samin.
Samin is heavily invested in this platform. He stayed at the studio for almost 46 days while filming for the second season, practically living there during the daytime.
"It was nerve-wracking to play alongside musicians like Muiz, Tapesh, and others. At the same time, I also felt at home," he said.
Upo is the biggest hit of the Hatirpool Sessions so far. The song has more than 215,000 views on YouTube and other social media platforms.
Their songs 'Anondo Dao' and 'Monohor' also had overwhelming responses from the netizens.
The entire first season was shot on Jonaki's terrace. Shooting in outdoor conditions was not easy. They only shot during early mornings to minimise interruptions.
The second season, however, was shot in an indoor setup to make things easier. They painted the studio with warm hues to pay tribute to the first season.
"When we used to shoot in the morning, some of my neighbours watched us from their window. Some even hummed along. To cherish this beautiful memory, we painted windows and people on the walls of our new studio," said Jonaki.
Hatirpool Sessions is an independent project and all operational expenses are funded by the group members. Featured artists are not provided with remunerations either, it is always a collaboration for the love of making music.
"Due to many limitations, we follow a particular genre and style here. We want to introduce different genres that will give diversity to our platform. We aim to make Hatirpool Sessions the most sought-after platform for the aspiring artists," said Jonaki.