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May 10, 2011

Dreams from Kabul


May 10, 2011

Hoping to create a more positive image of their country, a Kabul-based Afghan rock band livened up the weekend for the city’s music lovers at a local cafÈ with English and Dari songs, some of which promoted peace and freedom.
The band, consisting of three Afghani youngsters, is rather aptly called Kabul Dreams’. Siddique Ahmed is the bass guitarist for the Indie-rock band; Mujtaba Habibi is on drums and Suleiman Qardash plays the guitar and provides the vocals.
The band flew in from across the western border to perform at the city’s Base Rock Cafe. It will stage performances for two days and sing 10 English songs as well as numbers written in the Dari language. The music played by this Afghan band was highly regarded by the music enthusiasts who had gathered to witness the performance.
Inspired mostly by the West, the band prefers to play independent or indie rock music. However, the group has also composed some songs in the Dari and Uzbek languages. “Most of our songs in the local language promote positive notions such as peace, freedom and friendship. We want to portray the softer, more positive side of out country,” said Qardash. The name of the band signifies the dreams and aspirations of the youth living in the war-ravaged country of Afghanistan.
Kabul Dreams dates back to 2008 when all the three band members were returning to their home soil after they had fled to avoid the Soviet War which broke out in 1988. The seed to start off a proper band was planted in Qardash’s head in late December 2008. The vocalist had been playing with a local band in Afghanistan called ‘Signal Fire’.
“We met a gathering where the three of us decided to start a music band. It was a pleasant encounter and we needed somebody like Suleiman Qardash who can compose as well as sing since Mujtaba and I only play instruments,” shared Ahmed.
The global community tends to think of Afghanistan as a country with a closed society and

Kabul Dreams intends to change that perception. “The younger generation of Afghans enjoys western music and always welcomes our tunes. They are evolving as time goes on,” Ahmed highlighted, while sharing his views on the youth of his country. He added that despite the ban imposed by the Taliban for a certain period of time, Afghans always appreciated good music.
Besides Kabul Dreams, there are around seven other underground bands which are equally active in Afghanistan, which reflects the growing popularity of western music among the Afghan youth. “Apart from us, there are others that are based in Kabul, while one of the bands is from Herat.”
Ahmed had moved with his family to Islamabad in 1989, where he lived with his family for 15 years while his country was fending off an invasion from the Soviet Union. When the situation improved, Ahmed returned to Kabul in 2004 and has been living there since.
Qardash returned to his home country a few years later in 2007 after living in Uzbekistan for 10 years. On the other hand, the drummer Mujtaba Habibi had never been to his ancestral town of Kabul until his family returned in 2002 from Iran.
Although music is their passion, the three band members are also completing their Bachelors in Kabul. Ahmed and Habibi are doing their Bachelors in social science, while Qardash is studying economics.
Apart from studies and music, the band members keep themselves busy by working in the Afghan media. Qardash is a news anchor at a private channel, whereas Habibi and Ahmed are producers for a music show on one of the local radio stations.
Kabul Dreams has already performed in Istanbul, Delhi and Jaipur. Although the band has not played in other cities of Afghanistan other than Kabul, it intends to perform in places such as Herat in the future.
Part of their future plans also involves the launch of a music album that will contain 12 tracks. The band intends to record these songs abroad. “Since we do not have good recording studios in Afghanistan, we are planning to record these songs abroad. However, we are yet to decide where these tracks would be recorded.”
Some of the tracks have already been played at various performances in Afghanistan, but the album will contain some exclusive numbers, stressed Ahmed. The band has already introduced its extended play (EP) album, which consists of five English songs and was launched as a promotional exercise.

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