DEBU PROFILE AND HISTORY
DEBU fuses East and West, traditional and contemporary, acoustic and electric. This award-winning world music ensemble is known for playing anything from funk fusion to classical Turkish, then blending these various styles and rhythms to create something new and exciting. DEBU’s percussion section consists of Indian, Peruvian, Persian, Arabic, Turkish and Western drums. Add violins, Turkish baglama, oud, Iranian santur, Middle Eastern qanun, acoustic guitar, keyboard and a 6-string bass, and the result is a mini world music orchestra. It is only fitting that this diverse and talented group also sings in nine different languages. DEBU’s inspirational multilingual lyrics, written by Shaykh Fattaah, convey the message inherent in the shaykh’s Sufi poetry of universal love of the one True Love. Most of DEBU’s music is composed by Mustafa Daood, who is also their lead vocalist and arranger.
Currently residing in Jakarta, DEBU has topped the charts in Indonesia since the band formed in 2000. DEBU’s first album Mabuk Cinta (Drunk with Love), released in 2003, achieved instant success with its hit single “Cinta Saja,” played on MTV Asia daily. The next year, DEBU captured the attention of MTV Asia and worldwide Link TV with “Mazhab Cinta,” from their second album Makin Mabuk (Even More Drunk).
DEBU soon learned the ropes in the recording studio and decided to build their own studio in Jakarta, where they have produced, mixed and mastered their next five albums. These include three Indonesian albums - Nyawa dan Cinta (The Soul and Love), Gubahan Pecinta (A Travel Guide) and Dianggap Gila (Mad?); a Turkish album entitled Hep Beraber (Let's Say It Together); and their Persian album Soorinaas (A Celebration). Countless performances in a variety of settings, from intimate gatherings to corporate galas, and many television appearances (including several award-winning series featuring DEBU’s poetry and music, relief benefits and daily Ramadan specials) have made DEBU famous throughout Indonesia.
DEBU’s music has attracted global attention - live, through album and digital distribution, and on the internet. DEBU has toured Indonesia, Malaysia (including participation in the renown Rainforest World Music Festival in Borneo), Turkey, Singapore, Iran and Canada. They continue to be invited to events worldwide and are currently working on new releases in English, Spanish, Arabic and Indonesian.
"DEBU's sound is a heady mix of Middle Eastern strings, thumping drums, flutes, violins and Indonesian instruments picked up during this band's travels through this vast archipelago." AP Jakarta
"They have as much fun as Natasha Atlas. They're as suave as Cheb Mami. They're as fresh-faced and sincere as any of the Sami Yusufs and Dawud Wharnsby Alis of the modern Islamic music scene, and they're about to take the Muslim West by storm; a dust storm, in fact. 'DEBU' – which means `dust' in Malay and Indonesian – has already gone gold in the Archipelago." Isla Rosser-Owen, Emel Magazine
"The songs DEBU sings – in Indonesian, Turkish, English and Arabic – are mostly about love and peace, and the band members exude goodwill and equanimity. They clearly revel in the opportunity to reach more and more people through their music." David Kennedy, Jakarta Post
"DEBU's popularity rose quite a few degrees higher at the Rainforest World Music Festival this year, and although many in the audience knew them as stars already, they easily won a large new following." Randy Raine-Reusch, Artistic Director, Rainforest World Music Festival
Music from the heart, to the heart!
BAND MEMBERS AND THEIR INSTRUMENTS
Kumayl Mustafa Daood
Born: July 9, 1981
Place of Birth: Oregon, USA
Position: Composer, Arranger, Lead Vocalist, Oud, Ğlama and
Mustafa is the musical director and arranger of all of DEBU’s music. As he is proficient on many different instruments, it is not uncommon for Mustafa to single-handedly create a demo song in the studio using most of DEBU’s pieces. During a live performance, however, he generally plays up to three instruments:
Oud: Also known as the lute, this round-bodied instrument is the guitar of the Middle East. It is said to be the grandfather of the guitar. Mustafa uses a Turkish oud, an Egyptian oud and an electric oud that he had custom-made in Indonesia.
Ğlama: This Turkish long-necked lute, also known by some as the saz, is commonly used in central Asia, the Near East and the eastern Mediterranean.
Harmonium: Also known as peti or baja, the harmonium is a European instrument that was introduced into India in the 19th century. It is a small organ that has bellows and is pumped by hand through free reeds to produce sound. A lever at the base of the harmonium can adjust its scale. The keys and their intervals are the same as that of a piano.
Born: December 15, 1986
Place of Birth: Oregon, USA
Position: Wind Instruments, Vocalist
Although Saleem’s main role in DEBU is playing wind instruments, he occasionally plays percussive instruments like the Arabian tambourine (riq). Saleem does not limit himself to one specific wind instrument. He has a large collection from around the world. Some of his favorites include:
Turkish Ney: This reed flute is one of the most commonly used instruments in Turkish classical music. It has six holes on the top and one on the back, which is covered by the thumb. Sound is produced by blowing on the rim of the ney.
Sundanese Flute: This bamboo flute is used in traditional Sundanese music from Indonesia. Its scale is not Western, but rather a traditional Sundanese scale. It has 6 holes and is blown from the top.
Fife: Originally found in medieval Europe, this high-pitched flute is held at the side and blown from the top. Like many flutes it uses a standard 6-hole system. Though generally played in a 2-octave range, it can be played up to 3 octaves.
Born: September 28, 1988
Place of Birth: Texas, USA
Position: Drummer and Percussionist
Daood mainly plays the darbuka, drumset and cajon. He is, however, proficient on many other percussion instruments like the Persian daf and tombak. Daood is known for his unique playing style. He takes techniques used on various instruments, such as the flutter of the flamenco guitarist, and incorporates them into his playing. The combination of playing the drum set and the handheld darbuka at the same time is another one of his distinctive talents. He has studied music and played percussion with great musicians from around the world like Gilang Ramadan, Tanmoy Bose, Dwiki Darmawan, Sadao Wantanab, Bilen Isiktas, Onur Nar, Yuyun George and Kousik Dutta.
Darbuka: Known by many names (such as the dumbek, goblet drum and chalice drum), the darbuka is played in many Middle Eastern countries. It has a thin head that can be made of skin, plastic or even fiberglass. The middle of the head is hit with the hand to produce a low “DUM” sound and the rim is hit for the higher “TEK” sound. Daood uses an Egyptian darbuka, although he favors the Turkish style of playing.
Cajon: This Afro-Peruvian percussion instrument is a wooden box with a hole cut out of the back. The player sits on the box and hits the face of it, usually made of plywood, with his hands.
Drum Set: This western instrument is a combination of drums and percussive instruments collected and set up around the drummer. It is played using drumsticks and foot pedals. Daood personally prefers to have double foot pedals on his kick drum and he never performs without using his Mapex snare.
Ali Al-Mujahid Abdullah
Born: November 10, 1978
Place of Birth: Michigan, USA
Position: Bass, Sound Technician
Mujahid oversees all set up and technical aspects of DEBU’s live concerts. He has a team of techs he calls upon for DEBU’s shows. After the sound system is ready, he is the bassist. Mujahid plays a 6-string Aria bass.
6-String Bass: The bass guitar is actually a part of the rhythm section. It is played along with the beat of the drums, but with notes in specific chords. Generally a bass will have 4 strings, whose notes are E, A, D and G. 5-string basses add one lower note, B; 6-string basses have one higher note, C. The bass can be played with a pick, plucked with the fingers or slapped with the thumb, the latter being Mujahid’s favorite technique. He also uses a Zoom 708 bass effects box.
Born: Jun 22, 1970
Place of Birth: Surabaya, Indonesia
Position: Acoustic Guitar
Dhimas plays a variety of styles in DEBU’s music ensemble, but he is best known for flamenco guitar. This gifted virtuoso has studied with Jose Luis from Belgium and Spaniard Jesus Ma. Alvarez Lopez. Dhimas is an accomplished musician in every respect, and is a graduate of the IKJ School of the Arts in Jakarta. His musical experience and knowledge has been an invaluable asset to the group.
Flamenco Guitar: A flamenco guitar mainly differs from a classical guitar in the materials from which it is made, its design and the overall sound it produces. The wood used for a classical guitar is meant to bring out more sustain. The wood on a flamenco guitar is meant to give it more volume and attack. Dhimas incorporates his flamenco techniques into DEBU’s music, so his choice guitar is the flamenco guitar.
Born: December 9, 1974
Place of Birth: Jakarta, Indonesia
Position: Tabla Player, Percussionist
Luthfi is an all-around percussionist. He will play as many as four different percussion instruments in one song. The instrument that distinguishes him from the other percussionists in the group is the tabla. Luthfi studied with tabla master Kousik Dutta of India and Ramnat Singh. He is also a very accomplished dumbek player. Luthfi studied ethnomusicology at the IKJ School of the Arts in Jakarta.
Tabla: This pair of drums is rooted deep in the heart of Indian music, both classical and contemporary. It consists of a higher-pitched drum (called dayan) and a lower-pitched drum (called bayan). They are positioned side by side and the player plays the left side with his left hand and the right side with his right. There are several different ways to hit the tabla. Each hit has a different sound. The drums have straps that hold the head down and between the straps and the body of the drum there are wooden blocks. These blocks allow the player to tune the drums to a specific note. The dayan is tuned to fit in the tonic or dominant of the song. Luthfi usually brings two or three dayans that are pre-tuned, each to different notes. This allows him to quickly switch them when songs are played in different keys.
Born: November 3, 2000
Place of Birth: Makassar, Indonesia
Abdullah is DEBU’s youngest member. He began learning violin at the age of four. Since both of his parents have been in DEBU since its inception, his first appearances on stage were as a baby bouncing in an infant seat. Although Abdullah has been traveling with DEBU his whole life, only this past year did he become an active core member. As a home-schooler, he is able to continue his education even while he is on the road.
Born: October 9, 1994
Place of Birth: Banten, Indonesia
Position: Santur Player
Ahmad is one of the newer members of the ensemble. He has two Iranian santurs that DEBU purchased while on tour in Iran. They are handmade with beautiful artwork adorning the face of the instruments. When performing, Ahmad uses both santurs as they are each tuned differently for different songs.
Santur: Sometimes called a dulcimer, this 72-stringed instrument was used in ancient times to entertain the kings of Persia. It has bridges that hold the strings up off the face of the instrument. These bridges can be moved to change the tuning of the strings. The strings are hit with wooden sticks called mezrabs. The santur has a 3-octave range. The high strings, located on the left hand side, are usually made of stainless steel. The low strings, on the right hand side, are made of copper or brass.
Born: September 18, 1995
Place of Birth: New Mexico, USA
Ali is one of DEBU’s youngest members. He has been studying with Daood and Luthfi for several years and has exhibited amazing prowess as a percussionist. The three of them have formed a dumbek trio that often performs live at DEBU performances. One of the instruments Ali uses on stage is the Persian daf.
Persian Daf: This drum has a round wooden frame and a skin pulled tightly over the top. There are many small rings attached to the inside of the frame. With every hit and movement these rings slap against the skin and frame, adding to the daf’s percussive sound.
Born: Jun 2, 1981
Place of Birth: Michigan, USA
Position: Violinist, Baglama
Shakurah is a self-taught violinist and baglama player. Her position in DEBU is officially violinist, but she plays the baglama in live performances when needed. She is also one of the key figures in the recording studio when DEBU produces their albums.
Violin: This well-known instrument has four strings and is generally played with a bow. It can, however, be plucked to get a staccato sound. Shakurah plays a Stradivarius style violin and uses a Fishman pickup for live performances. She also uses a Korg Toneworks effects box on stage along with a Roland Jazz Chorus guitar amplifier.
Naseem Nahid DeVoe
Born: Oct 4, 1976
Place of Birth: Washington, USA
Position: Percussionist, Costume Coordinator
Naseem has her own fashion line, Nahid Fashions. When DEBU performs all of the women’s costumes are from Nahid Fashions. Aside from this, Naseem plays the riq (an Arabian tambourine).
Riq: This Arabian tambourine is traditionally made of wood and has small cymbals on it, along with a fish or goatskin head. Today one can find riqs made of metal with synthetic heads. The riq is played by holding it between the thumb and index finger of one hand, and hitting both the skin and cymbals with the remaining free fingers and hand. There are several types of hits used with the riq. Some finger hits are on the cymbals, some on the rim of the instrument and some on the middle of the skin. The instrument is a very important part of Arabian classical music, and is also a favorite amongst the Turks.
Born: Nov 08, 1987
Place of Birth: Texas, USA
Husnia has played with DEBU, gracing even their earliest music videos, since she was young. While studying violin along with other ensemble members, she started to avidly play baglama. Husnia soon transferred her skills and talents to her newfound love, the cello. Look for a modern take on this instrument with Husnia's new electric cello!
Cello: Derived from the Italian "violoncello," this is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola and the contrabass (double bass).
Fatimah Tuz Zahra
Born: Feb 3, 1994
Place of Birth: New Mexico, USA
Zahra started her musical studies with violin but has since added the keyboard to the list of instruments she plays. She continues to study keyboard and is proving to be an asset to the group’s music.
Keyboard: This electronic piano is in essence a computer that puts out different sounds for which it has been programmed. It is played and has full size keys just like a piano. Zahra prefers the Roland RD 700, as its keys are heavy and it has more of a traditional piano feel to it.
Born: Jun 11, 1994
Place of Birth: Jakarta, Indonesia
Position: Turkish Kanun
Nadira originally studied keyboard and concertina, and recently began learning the kanun. She has quickly learned to play her DEBU parts on the kanun, her favorite instrument, and is already showing great promise as a musical artist.
Turkish Kanun: This stringed instrument is prominent in Anatolian classical music. The kanun resembles a zither but has a trapezoidal narrow soundboard. It has 26 sets of 3 strings. They are strung over bridges and attached to pegs at the side of the instrument. The bridges are usually positioned on top of fish skin. Each set of strings has small metal latches under them called mandols. These are used to change the instrument’s tuning. The kanun is played on the lap and plucked with picks that are attached to the index finger of each hand.