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), also 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]


In 1987, Zaman set up the State of Bengal group 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 Deedar 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]

Formerly a teacher, Zaman worked at youth centres.[5] State of Bengal was a DJ at the Anokha club in London's East End during the mid-1990s. His tracks "Flight IC408" and "Chittagong Chill" – written and produced with Matt Mars – were featured on Anokha – Soundz of the Asian Underground compilation, and helped him gain prominence. Singer Björk discovered his work at Anokha; he opened with the homeogenic world tour, and remix her track "Hunter" after hearing the original "Hunter" by State of Bengal in September 1996, thereby signing to the One Little Indian record label. After Anokha, State of Bengal took up residency at the Off Centre club nights,[6] he produced his debut album Visual Audio in 1998[4][7] and then toured solo at several international festivals, and did extensive remix work.

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 20 May 2015, Zaman died of an apparent cardiac arrest[4][11][12] from a suspected heart attack.[1] Zaman was divorced and survived by his young son, Sage.[5]



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


Album 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]