With the intent to revive folk song/music among the youth as well as in the Karbi community, ‘Arak’ a band from the hilly region of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao has come together and started working towards establishing a place for folk music in the region’s music industry.
With influences of western music among the youth, fewer are listening to folk song. Working against the general shift towards western and Hindustani music, Arak is working to direct the flow to folk music among the youths in the region.
Arak was formally formed in 2016 but as band they had already captured the stage in various places across districts.
The objective of Arak is to preserve, revive n popularize karbi folk songs, many of which are almost forgotten ,the songs are kept traditional without modification of the tunes, only the music is given modern treatment to reach the younger generations whilst still keeping in mind the purists.
The Arak member consists of six band members Deuri Rongpi -Vocals/Song Writing, Daniel Engty- Guitars/Music Arrangements , Dhansing Teron- Bamboo flute/Karbi wind instruments (Muri Tongpo/Muri Jangkek), Ashok Kemprai- Bass guitar, Simanta Barman- Karbi Drums(Chenkpi/Chenk Buruk), Sandeep Hakmaosa- Acoustic drummer
Eastern Mirror: Response of the people from Karbi Anglong when it comes to music?
Arak: Response of the people of Karbi Anglong when it comes to music is very overwhelming, people here love music, music ranging from heavy metal to experimental, hip-hop to folk music and Hindustani to Karbi film music are always in demand and are welcomed and the regional music scene is huge, every year we have 20-30 Karbi films and video songs albums released and we have Rangsina Sarpo film awards Organized by Cultural Dept of (Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council ) which includes best singer (male & female) of the year,best music director n so on, again some of the videos for the songs are even shot in places like Goa, Manali, Tawang n Bhutan etc. So the regional music scene in Karbi Anglong is quite appreciable, any band/artist performing in KA can always sing in their own language without hesitation, people of KA really love music and our rock competitions n concerts carry on till morning though till date the authority have declared gigs to end by 10 pm.
Eastern Mirror: When was the first time ‘Arak’ performed as a band?
Arak: As a band we performed many times in the district but the band’s name wasn’t finalized till we were invited for a gig in the World Music Day concert on 21st June 2016 in Guwahati organized by Aucto Creation, so as Arak that was our debut gig.
Eastern Mirror: How do you compose songs especially in tune with folk songs?
Arak: Our vocalist was a radio artist singing folk songs and also a modern Hindi/Assamese/Karbi song writer and he is also an author of a book called “Khei Atirim”, so it’s natural that he writes the words & tune (if it’s not traditional) but based on Karbi folk tales, myths and modern issues.
Our guitarist who is a recordist and composes experimental lyrics arranges the music temporarily and distributes the demo among the band. the song gets shaped as we jam on.
Eastern Mirror: Tell us something about your debut song ‘ Chu Pirbi kangduk ako lang’…
Arak: This particular song is an extract from a song known as ‘Lokhi Keplank’ which may be translated as ‘origin of grains or paddy ‘ or how paddy came to the Karbis, but this song ‘Chu Pirbi Kangduk ako lang’ means ‘When earth was soft’ we joint different folk songs together to complete the entire episode from hunting n gathering to the grains origin, the sowing to the reaping ,to the community dance to celebrate harvest ,from abundance to settling of new couples, so this is a pure folk song with fusion music.
Eastern Mirror: How do the youth react to your folk music?
Arak: The youths of Karbi Anglong gave Arak a warm welcome, just as soon as we released a little trailer of our video songs our inboxes were filled with enquiry of the DVDs availability n during live concerts the sing alongs n demands for their favourite song repeats shows their love for Arak, though MTVs influences some of the youths are more concerned about identity n getting back to the roots so they are very happy about what we did, and more music groups are now infusing Karbi folk after Arak now.
Eastern Mirror: Achievement of the band, if any..
Arak: Achievement for the band is none, as Arak is a new venture n a lot of things are yet to happen n Araks’ music potential is yet to be reached .
Eastern Mirror: Does any of your songs relate to the origin of the Karbi Tribe?
Arak: Traditionally we already have folk songs like ‘Mosera Kehir’ & ‘Karbi Keplank’ that talks about how Karbis originated hatching out of the last egg but Arak has yet to work on it.
Eastern Mirror: Any new upcoming Album to be release in this year?
Arak: Right now nothing is discussed yet, but I guess very soon we’ll plan to hit our jam room n kickstart sessions for recording.
The idea is to preserve, revive n popularize karbi folk songs, many of which are almost forgotten ,the songs are kept exactly as traditional without modification of the tunes, only the music is given modern treatment to reach the younger generation keeping in mind the purists.