State of Bengal

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Not to be confused with Principality of Bengal.
State of Bengal
Birth name Saifullah Zaman
Also known as Sam Zaman
Born (1965-04-16)16 April 1965
Karachi, Pakistan
Origin London, England
Died 19 May 2015(2015-05-19) (aged 50)
United Kingdom
Years active 1987–2015
Associated acts
Notable instruments

Saifullah "Sam" Zaman (16 April 1965 – 19 May 2015), known by the stage name State of Bengal, was a British DJ and music producer of Bangladesh descent associated with the UK and Asian Underground movement.

Early life[edit]

Zaman was born in Karachi, Pakistan and lived in Ankara, Amman, and Dhaka before moving in London, England at the age of eight. His father is a homeopathic doctor.[1]


Sam (alongside Farook and Haroon Shamsher) was a core members League Of Joi Bangla Youth Organisation' and 'Joi Bangla', a collective set up in 1983 to promote Bengali culture to children in their local East London area.[2] The collective also made a TV appearance on the BBC.The Shamsher brothers later went on to form the band Joi, and Sam; State Of Bengal.

In 1987, Zaman set up the State of Bengal project in London after a visit to Noakhali, Bangladesh, where he interacted with traditional folk musicians and dancers. Original members of the group included his youngest brother Deeder Zaman (later became vocalist of Asian Dub Foundation) who was 7, and MC Mushtaq (later became the lead rapper for Fun-Da-Mental) who was 15.[2]

Outside of the State of Bengal project, Zaman also worked with British Asian youth groups, setting up music training workshops.[3]

After working in a variety of communities from across the country, they founded a record company called Betelnut Productions.[4]

During this period Sam also became a qualified teacher, whilst still working with Youth groups, training young people in music, producing his own music, and playing out as a DJ under the banner of State Of Bengal.

Two of the young people from the youth groups to be trained and taken under Sam's wings are Gesse and Osmani Soundz, whom Sam went on to bring into Anokha, and introducing him to Singh. Sam also instigated for the two tracks by Osmani to be featured on the Anokha Compilation. The final track listing was done by Singh, Zaman and Kapoor, with Kapoor over looking all the design work.


.[5] State of Bengal was the key music producer / DJ at the legendary Anokha music nights, hosted every Monday at the Blue Note by Talvin Singh and Sweety Kapoor, in London's East End during the mid-1990s.

His tracks "Flight IC408" and "Chittagong Chill" were hailed as groundbreaking, and became the anthem to a generation and movement.

The tracks were first featured on Anokha – Soundz of the Asian Underground compilation, followed soon on various compilations, propelled him to international status.

It should be noted that Zaman was still a full-time professional teacher for the first 6 months of Anokha moving to the Blue Note, and taking up its weekly Monday night residency.

After a couple of months it soon became clear that side by side Singh, Sam was the main music producer / DJ driving the Homegrown music of Anokha.

Sam would make tracks in time for the weekly sessions. The Anokha audiences / music lovers grew to wait in anticipation as he dropped a freshly cut vinyl dub plate.

DJ Avatar: as well as being hailed for his music, Sam was noted for his unique genre -defying Djing style. Mixing tracks with various other vocal, speech and music elements from different sources into one endless seam.

He was celebrated for the ability to create a unique track, without taking away from the original. It was Sam's love for the original music, and his love for storytelling and tapping into the colours and emotions of music that enabled him to approach Djing from a different perspective. His skills as music producer added to his Dj ing style, his DJ sets were often compositions on the decks, often creating new melodies on the spot.

Sam being the conductor, whilst still keeping the dance floor pumping, he would often drop down tempo tracks, or something totally expected demanding attention to the music, drawing audiences into listening, seeing the colours connecting as well as dancing.

As such he is hailed to be one of the key pioneers to a movement which became known as the 'Asian Underground', and the 'God Father of Asian fused Break Beat.'

Inspring a whole new generation of music and creative heads.

During his weekly sets at Anokha, many international artist's including Tricky would ask to jump on for an impromptu collaboration.

It was during this time that State of Bengal did a landmark back to back DJ set with Afrika Bambatta.

Other notable live collaborations include Steve 'ChandraSonic' from Asian Dub Foundation, who considered him to be a musical genius.

He was the key DJ / artist alongside Singh to tour extensively under the Anokha banner, at various venues and festivals.

Bjork / One Little Indian

Singer Björk, a regular at Anokha, discovered and fell in love with both Sam's music and Dj style. She pursued him to sign onto her label, One Little Indian, and he opened for her Homeogenic world tour.

HUNTER REMIX: During one their music listening sessions, Bjork asked Sam to remix her track "Hunter" after hearing an old State of Bengal track entitled the same.

It was during this time that Singh and Zaman begun to drift.

It is said that this was due to Sam seeing it more as collective, and from his youth work background and workshops, wanted to see it as a platform to help the other artists come thru.

Zaman had said it broke his heart to leave something he felt passion for, and helped to build from the ground up. Stating it broke his heart still to stay but not be able to secure the future of Anokha were other artists were able to shine thru. Sam, known in the 'industry' as a man of convinction expressed feeling let down by the terms of his contract offered by Omni records, the label Singh had created for the Anokha compilation to be administrated thru with Island records.

After leaving Anokha, State of Bengal took up residency at the hailed Off Centre club nights,[6] he produced his debut album Visual Audio in 1998[4][7] touring extensively both solo and with his new formed band State Of Bengal. Playing at all major festivals, and several leading venues across the globe. As well as being commissioned for extensive remix work, and collaborations with dancers and writers.

After the release of Visual Audio[4] in 2001,[5] State of Bengal worked on two projects with musicians from Bengal, collaborating with Indian sitar innovator Ananda Shankar on the 2000 album Walking On[1][8] and with Baul singer Paban Das Baul on the 2004 album Tana Tani (Push and Pull).[1][9] In 2008, he remixed Massive Attack's album Mezzanine.[1] In 2007, Zaman's second solo album Skip-IJ was released.[4][5][10] Subsequently, alongside music work and DJing, Zaman went back to teaching kids and conducting music workshops.[5]

Personal life and death[edit]

In 2001, Zaman played in Dhaka, Chittagong and Kolkata. This was the first time he visited Bangladesh in 13 years.[2]

On 19 May 2015, Zaman died of an apparent cardiac arrest[1][4][11][12] Sam Zaman aka State Of Bengal is survived by his son, Sage.[5]



Year Single Chart positions Album
1997 "Elephant Ride" Visual Audio
1999 "Rama Communication" Visual Audio


Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
Visual Audio
  • Released: July 2007
  • Label: Betelnut Records
  • Formats: CD, Digital Download

Collaborations and contributions[edit]

Year Artist(s) Title Label
2000 Ananda Shankar Experience and State of Bengal Walking On Realworld Records, Virgin Records
2004 State of Bengal vs. Paban Das Baul Tana Tani Realworld Records, EMI Records


Year Artist(s) Title Label
1996 Various artists Anokha - Soundz of the Asian Underground Omni/Island Records

Remixes and other work[edit]

Year Artist(s) Title Album/Single Label
1997 Björk "Hunter" remix "Hunter" (single) One Little Indian Records
1998 Massive Attack Inertia Creeps Mezzanine – The Remixes (album) Virgin Records
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan "Shadow" Star Rise: Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn and Michael Brook Remixed Realworld Records
Ronnie Jordon New Delhi Island Unreleased
1999 Amar "Day By Day", "If You Say That You Love Me", "Sometimes It Snows in April" Unreleased Warner Bros. Records
Euphoria "Delirium" Delhi Rias Mix Delirium Remixes (single) Six Degrees Records
Cheb i Sabbah "Shri Durga" Tantra Lounge (album)
2000 Jolly Mukherjee "Madhuvanthi", "Jhinjoti", "Sarang" Fusebox (album) Palm Pictures
Mindless Self Indulgence "Bitches" remix "Bitches/Molly" (single) Elektra Records
Solar Twins "Rock the Casbah" remix "Rock the Casbah" (single) Maverick Records
2001 Khaled "Mal Habibti" Barclay Records
Amar and Khaled "El harba wine"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e K, Sanj (20 May 2015). "Sam Zaman: Musician who emerged from London’s Asian Underground to work with Bjork and Massive Attack". The Independent. Retrieved 1 August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Mr. Sam Zaman". Swadhinata Trust. 28 March 2006. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  3. ^ "Biography". State of Bengal. Retrieved 7 March 2006. 
  4. ^ a b c d e K, Sanj (20 May 2015). "Sam Zaman / State of Bengal dies (1965-2015)". Nada Brahma. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Pemmaraju, Gautam (23 May 2015). "Sam Zaman, pioneer of the Asian Underground, influenced everything from US rap to Bollywood beats". Retrieved 1 August 2015. 
  6. ^ "CD Review". FFWD Weekly. 17 June 1999. Retrieved 7 March 2006. 
  7. ^ Ramani, Vinita (1 December 2000). "State of Bengal Visual Audio". Exclaim!. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  8. ^ Bidaye, Prasad (1 February 2000). "Ananda Shankar Experience and State of Bengal Walking On". Exclaim!. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  9. ^ Longley, Martin (12 April 2004). "State of Bengal Vs Paban das Baul Tana Tani Review". BBC Music. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  10. ^ Patterson, Louis (22 July 2007). "State of Bengal Skip-Ij Review". BBC Music. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  11. ^ K, Sanj (20 May 2015). "State of Bengal aka Sam Zaman Dead at 50". Rolling Stone India. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "State of Bengal aka Sam Zaman dies". Dhaka: Dhaka Tribune. 21 May 2015. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 

External links[edit]