Interview with Takar Nabam

Takar Nabam is a visionary singer-songwriter and an influential guitar player in India’s Indie Rock scene. Paving a new path for young adults with songs that inspire social progress, raise hope and celebrate his tribe Nyishi. In this interview, Takar shares his musical journey and addresses some of the challenges that comes with COVID 19.

From your debut album Same Sky to singles such as Nyokum Sokhi To and Long Way Home, what has changed in your writing process? 

A lot actually. Musically, Same Sky was based around a mellow acoustic sound. My second album, This Home That Home, was relatively heavier sounding. Long way Home has a similar sound too. Nyokum Sokhi To was written keeping in mind the fun, festive spirit, so I went for a more groove driven sound.

Lyrically, Same Sky spoke about my school-College days, This Home That Home spoke about quarter life crisis, love, friends and music.

With songs like Nyokum Sokhi To (Let’s Celebrate Nyokum), Sang Be Yu Rey (Shall I Live), the themes are more social, unlike the previous songs which are mostly based around my personal life

You’ve been the first artist from Arunachal Pradesh to play at So Far Brooklyn and Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan, how did the audience react to your music? 

They were extremely supportive, especially for my Nyishi Songs. They’d never heard of the place I came from, and neither did they hear about Nyishi Tribe. I guess this was something new for them and they soaked it in quite comfortably, at least that’s what I felt. 

What are 3 things you have imagined or re-imagined in between a pre-Corona world and the current lockdown? 

1. Live Gigs to Live Stream – It’s unfortunate that we cannot go out and play a live gig, and neither can we attend one. Live gig was our main source of revenue, it’s worrisome. Thanks to live streaming, we can play a gig from our home to an audience from all over the world. But it will never be as rewarding, inspiring, satisfying or even equivalent to the actual thing. 

2. I wish I had spent more time in the villages here in Arunachal. I would have learnt so much more about my culture, my roots and I may have become more fluent in my dialect. I feel like I was away for far too long and I missed out on a lot here. In fact, I was at a gathering and I couldn’t even deliver a fluent speech in my dialect, and a sense of identity crisis had dawned on me. I often think of that day and I wish I could clock it back. 

3. No more Jams/Hangs together – my creative process is fuelled by jamming with a good rhythm section. With the lockdown in place, it has been tough to put together fresh set of ideas. I’m latching onto the old one’s for now and also working on looping my ideas and building on them. I did feel at some point last year, that I had to try out newer approaches. The lockdown pushed me into that zone.

The synch world has multiple opportunities in the west and is now slowly opening up in India. Where do you think your music could fit into the scheme of things in this world?

I feel that my music might best fit in the western part of the world. I haven’t been able to get enough traction or interest here in the kind of music I play. Maybe I should try something else for the listeners here. 

In the digital world when it’s so easy to put out music and get lost and found, what are three important things to keep in mind as an artiste?

1. Consistency – Nowadays, there’s a bombardment of song releases each day,  it’s really important to release new content every couple of months or as frequent as possible.

2. Patience – While it may take a long time for your stats to improve, don’t lose hope. Your stats are only a measure of how it’s doing in the market, but not really about the quality of your music or your talent. Work on your craft, bring out the best in you and look for creative ways to push it out. 

3. Be Yourself – In this day with so much going on, so many distractions, less attention span of the viewers and listeners, it is very important to show the world who you truly are. What’s trending now will be stale in a couple of months but you can incorporate certain current ideas without losing your true identity. I guess that’s something you’ll have to try and see it for yourself.