“The main goal of my music career is to work with different musicians across borders and barriers, be it in the case of language and musical expressions,” said vocalist and lyricist Alakesh Dutta while talking to VibesMojo in Shillong recently.
Born in Nalbari, his first brush with music came from listening to songs played on the radio. Recounting his initial days, he said, “My father brought me a ‘Philips walkman’ and I was stuck to it all through the day and night, which resulted in the constant drain of batteries. I would continuously run to and fro to shops to get the new batteries.” He collected his first guitar from his cousin’s garage and began to strumming it.
“We studied about Shelly, Keats, Byron, and Wordsworth in our schools and fell in love with their poems. Those inspired me a lot,” said Dutta, when asked about the inspiration behind his soulful songs. He is an avid admirer of folk tales and folklore. By keeping the purity and blending in a hint of modern and contemporary music to it, Dutta wants to bring folk songs out on a global platform.
“It is a rainy evening of 2009 and three of us, Mrinal Rabha (bass+vocal) and Jitul Das (lead guitar), were chatting and sipping tea with samosas for more than 15 minutes before we were strumming our guitars in the candle-light. We were discussing the future possibilities of doing music, which we would like and I think that was the beginning of Papyrus Rain Of Heart,” said Dutta when asked about his band.
As of now, the band consists of Mrinal Rabha in bass and vocal, Suraj Rabha and Kangkan Rabha in the lead guitars.
“I write the lyrics of my compositions from my personal experiences and fantasy. Some of my compositions are based on social issues, spirituality and some are on romantic fantasy. I always like to focus on the depth of a traditional folk piece which I blend in my composition,” he said while elaborating on his songs and the nature of his compositions.
In some of his compositions like Rajpath, one can hear the vital presence of Rabha traditional folk tune, notes and vocal approach in the entire song.
Dutta is not only limiting himself to the folk culture of the state or nation. He is deeply inspired by the Slovakian culture and its folk traditions. “We have done an Indo-European collaborative song called 1st JANUARY! which was a live recording,” said Dutta. He is now working on another music video which will also be a collaboration video incorporating Indian and European elements.
According to the singer, it is always interesting to learn a language different from our own. Imbibing its culture and folk elements help one to learn something new.
Dutta is also the founder of an NGO, Picasso Pupils, which is registered in Northeast India and Slovakia, Europe. The NGO has been organising international art residency since 2016 in Meghalaya. Picasso Pupils is also organising an international art symposium in Slovakia since August, 2018.
When asked about his new projects in days to come, Dutta said, “We are also working on a song called Okora Oroinnyo. This song is about how the so-called development is pulling us to the back. How we are losing the glory of our past, our happy simple tribal lifestyles, and forest, etc. We will dedicate this song to the Amazon Rainforest”