Latest news »Saifullah 'Sam' Zaman 1965-2015

It is with great sadness and a sense of shock that we have learnt of the death of Saifullah 'Sam' Zaman, at the age of just 43.

Sam, aka State of Bengal, was a regular visitor to Real World Studios over the years and also released two albums on Real World Records, 1999's Walking On, with Ananda Shankar and in 2004 Tana Tani, a collaboration with Paban Das Baul.

Sam collaborated with many South Asian musicians, most memorably the celebrated psych-rock sitar maverick Ananda Shankar, but was always looking to bring something new to the music rather than simply falling back on traditional methods and approaches; "I want to feel that I'm moving things on, not just regurgitating music that's being played for centuries," he said. While working on the Tana Tani album with Paban Das Baul he was keen to push the celebrated singer and dubki player into new areas; "I'd occasionally ask Paban to experiment in areas where he wouldn't naturally work."

As well as the album releases Sam was a key component in the burgeoning Asian Underground scene of the late 1990's and early 2000's and an accomplished DJ. He was also renowned for his innovative and exciting remixes for a host of other artists such as Bjork, Massive Attack and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

"We worked together with Sam Zaman aka State of Bengal during very happy, experimental times - exploring collaborations between artists, making new musical relationships. During the making of the album 'Walking On' (1999) at Real World Studios two generations of Indian music met - Sam the natural young partner of the visionary virtuoso Ananda Shankar. Working with State of Bengal on the album 'Star Rise' Sam produced one of the most beautiful and atmospheric, uplifting remixes of the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Sam was a joyous, funny, witty person and ground-breaking artist who brought together contemporary break beat and hip hop with Indian classical music, and an ear for the beautiful melody that draws us through his irresistible dance beats." - Amanda Jones, Label Manager, Real World Records

"Sam Zaman was a delight to work with; I loved his mischievous sense of humour, his warmth and his loyalty. I had heard his music from the get go and played it out as a DJ in the mid nineties, I always thought it was the sound of the Asian Overground. I found myself tracking down Indian fusion legend Ananda Shankar in 1997, infected by the joy of hearing his famous track "Streets Of Calcutta". I asked Sam if he would be interested in a collaborative project with the (very definitely up for it) Calcutta posse, we put one and one together and made two - State Of Bengal and Ananda Shankar - "Walking On", an album, with Real World Records, in full and supportive effect. Matt Mars, Sam's writing partner was solid as a rock from the start and we are friends still today. Then we went on tour, it was fun, and it was mad. It was my first clumsy attempt as a curator/producer - what you will - and Sam trusted me. It was extremely generous of him considering the risk. We had a great time working together. Sam and I have had intermittent connections since then, sadly, (geography mainly - and the straying effect of the business) but he was always in my heart and mind. I remember a lovely afternoon in the mid 2000's at his house in the East End of London where he demonstrated 101 different ways to mash up a rare and beautiful looking and sounding Carnatic percussion instrument through his compact home studio. Then we had tea and a cigarette. I cherish those times together with him at home, and on the road. Thank you my friend, and love to you and yours always. - Alan James, collaborator on the 'Walking On' album

Our thoughts go to all of Sam's family and friends at this difficult time. He will be sorely missed by us all.

Saifullah 'Sam' Zaman, DJ and producer
Born Karachi 16 April 1965; died 19 May 2015

Published 21st May 2015, 3:12pm »

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