'I don't see music as beats and notes'

JUGGLING ACT

It’s tough for a musician to strike a balance between solo work, band, Bollywood projects and international collaborations. But juggling seems to come easily to Angaraag Papon Mahanta, the Assamese folk singer who has carved a niche for himself in the industry.

Describing his connection with music, he tells Metrolife, “I don’t see music as beats and notes. It’s all about mood to me. It just has to touch me to teleport me to another zone.”

Papon recently performed at Glasgow’s world music festival called ‘Celtic Connection’, both with his band and as part of ‘Troikala’, a collaboration between him and Scottish singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni.

“‘Troikala’ was initiated by the British Council and was a collaboration between Rachel, percussionist Bickram Ghosh and me. We put together an album and did some shows in India and London. But this year, I am working along with Rachel and Jennifer Austin, who composes and plays the piano. We’ve finished recording but the final production is left, after which we will start touring.

The music has a ‘Scottish folk meets pop rock’ feel and the songs are in three languages — English, Assamese and Hindi,” he shares. His band ‘Papon and the Easy India Company’ also collaborated with Ross Ainslie, where Ross’ piper and bagpipes were fused with the band’s Assamese folk rock elements. When asked what he looks for in collaborations, Papon answers, “It’s about getting two different forms or cultures together but finding singularities within the composition. That’s where the two distinct concepts seamlessly go from one to the other without any jerks.”

He has also become a popular name in Bollywood with songs like Kyon from Barfi!, Jiyein Kyun from Dum Maaro Dum and Sun Le Re from ‘Madras Cafe’ to his credit. Other than myriad projects, he also has many Bollywood songs coming up.

   “I don’t know which is the side project and which is the main one anymore,” he laughs, adding, “I’ve recently sung for a few interesting films. There is the Vidya Balan-starrer Bobby Jasoos, in which I have sung my first duet with Shreya Ghoshal. There is also Lakshmi, which is Nagesh Kukunoor’s next movie.”

Papon recently performed at the third edition of the Storm Festival in the City. On the festival, he says, “It was big and nice but I personally preferred it happening in Coorg because of the forest, nature and vibe there. Rather than being just another festival in Bangalore, there was something special about it happening in the hills.”

Apart from music, he has also taken up the role of a
science professor in Baharul Islam’s Assamese film titled Rodor Sithi, which explores the youth’s drive for material wealth and struggles in love and life.

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