Written By Kelly Holm
We all know Halsey’s “Eastside,” but now it’s time to give Nirob Islam’s “Westside” a listen too. With a music video shot in his father’s home village in Bangladesh, the track, which dropped earlier this year, reflects on fame and “the view from the top.”
“No, you ain’t gotta stress, it’s true/You’ve been overthinking every move/Late nights, pour your heart out in the booth,” Islam croons. “I roll it up and I take it in/I don’t know if I deserve all this.”
As a Bengali Muslim who grew up in Sweden, Islam’s family and heritage has greatly influenced the trail he’s blazed in the music world. Initially, he had doubts about pursuing a career in the arts, since his parents wanted him to become an academic.
“I come from a culture where status is very important and is defined by your choice of career. Music was never an option for me, but I made it one,” Islam says. “My first performance was in eighth grade in a church where we had the last day of school before summer break. None of my friends knew I sang.”
Even if you’re unacquainted with Islam’s solo persona, you’re probably familiar with his work writing for other artists under the moniker SHY Nodi. Along with fellow Swede SHY Martin, Islam’s responsible for the lyrics to “All We Know” by The Chainsmokers ft. Phoebe Ryan.
In 2018, he began recording his own music under his given name, with “No Vibe” being one of his earliest releases. His latest release is “Stick Around,” which hit YouTube on April 7th.
“I created the song with a producer duo [who] are close friends of mine, called Medium,” he said. “It all started with us getting away from the city to a cabin by the lake, where we immersed ourselves in writing. I had a lot of time to dive deep into my thoughts.”
Inspired when one of Medium’s members started playing a melancholic guitar riff, Islam began to jot down the thoughts that, by the end of the day, would become the lyrics to “Stick Around.”
“It’s important to compromise and find a middle ground where everybody gets their creativity out,” Islam said. “We finished the song that day and ended up drinking a couple of beers in the sauna and jumping into freezing water.”
As with “Westside,” the music video for “Stick Around” was filmed in Islam’s native Bangladesh.
“Me and [director and videographer] Hampus… wanted to capture the everyday life of the people during sunsets and sunrises in different parts of the country. This took us about two weeks to record and two weeks of editing after coming home to Sweden,” he shared. “We weren’t sure what we would capture going to the different locations. I think that adds a layer to it… the magic moments usually come when you least expect it.”
Islam promises that more new music will be coming soon.
“Creativity with music comes from… being stimulated and affected by things around you,” he says. “[I want fans to] feel connected to me, and that my music might be something they can lean on.”
In his future he’d like to collaborate with Doja Cat and play Staples Center, but he never wants to lose the idealism that spurred his youthful ambitions.
“Always have a beginner’s mind,” he advises. “There are endless possibilities in what we can create and I think having a curious and playful mindset lets you subconsciously put in the hours to hone your craft.”
Follow Nirob Islam