I write about the social impact of entertainment and how media can be used for good. Views are my own.

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Dancer and choreographer Fatima Zuno in GHSTMTHR, the first single by Afghan electronica artist, Qardash

Now Playing: Afghan Electronica Artist, Qardash

Disclosure: At the time of writing this, I manage both Qardash and his band, Kabul Dreams

About ten years ago, in 2012, I worked in marketing for a company called Roshan, the leading telecom company in Afghanistan. I worked in Kabul, lived in a high-security compound, and entertained myself at the handful of UN-approved bars and restaurants that expats and contractors tended to congregate in.

While I was there, I stumbled into a rock band called Kabul Dreams. I heard about them in the hallways and saw them on billboards, but I thought nothing of it once I moved to Toronto for my fancy management consulting job.

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It wasn’t until 2016, a couple of years after I moved to Los Angeles and started working in the music industry, that a friend sent me a news article about an Afghan rock band that had relocated from Kabul to San Francisco. This was around the same time that I had started developing the language to articulate the intersection of social impact and entertainment.

Feeling particularly audacious, I sent an email to the band’s generic email address and asked them if they needed any help. Six hours later, the lead singer replied, and the next thing I knew, we were chatting on the phone. Over the months that passed, one thing led to another, and now I manage the same credentials that I once sent a cold email to.

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Now the band’s lead singer, Sulyman Qardash, is debuting his solo project, and it’s absolutely incredible. Watching him grow as an artist – and as a person – has been one of the most exciting parts of my career. And it’s not even my day-job, so that’s saying a lot!

Sulyman Qardash of Kabul Dreams at SXSW 2019. Image: Katrina Lat

Who Is Qardash?

Sulyman Qardash, stylistically known as Qardash, is an Afghan artist who relocated from Kabul to San Francisco in 2013. Before starting his career as a solo artist, Qardash founded Kabul Dreams, the first rock band from Afghanistan. His music is primarily inspired by his punk rock roots, but blends elements of electronica and synthwave, sounds that served as the backdrop of his new life in California. Qardash uses music to illuminate the challenges faced by those with multi-hyphenate identities: as a refugee; an immigrant; and an Afghan in America.

As an independent artist, Qardash rejects the comfort of large production teams and instead, embraces a DIY modality. After learning how to record, distribute, and promote music in Afghanistan with minimal infrastructure and technology, he has parlayed that experience into his latest project, leveraging the abundance of resources available to a stateside indie musician.

Introducing: GHSTMTHR

The first single released by Qardash, GHSTMTHR, was released in September 2022. The music video, co-produced by Qais Essar, is a piece of art. The video was filmed in Guadalajara, Mexico, by Cesar Orozco, and the dancing and choreography was done by Fatima Zuno.

Both the original single and the more chill and vibey Haus of Taus remix are available wherever music is streamed, but you can check out the YouTube videos right here and enjoy them in all their glory.

While You’re Here, a Word on Afghanistan…

On September 30, 2022, a suicide bomb attack on the Kaaj Education Center in Kabul killed at least 25 people and injured at least 56, most of whom are believed to be young women.

Aseel, an e-commerce platform that works with artisanal vendors from Afghanistan, has launched a relief fund to provide emergency food packages and financial support for the medical treatment of the affected families. If you’re able to contribute, consider doing so here.

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