This is by far no mean feat coming from the remote Arunachal Pradesh of Northeast India. By performing at Rockwood Music Hall, Manhattan and Sofar Sounds in Brooklyn, Takar Nabam has scripted history — he has become one of the first artistes from the state to perform at a large public gathering in the US.
“I was planning a visit to NY, earlier this year and I wrote to a few venues. The management at Rockwood Music Hall at Sofar Sounds NYC was happy to have me on board. The music made the visit all the more interesting,” said Nabam when asked about his New York jam.
Nabam bewitched the audience with his debut single in Nyishi dialect titled, Nyokum Sokhi, along with a couple of his other songs in English.
The song talks about a festival Nyokum, which is celebrated by the Nyishi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. “‘Nyok’ means place and ‘kum’ means gathering. Hence, ‘Nyokum’ means the place where we gather to celebrate, pray for a prosperous year with a better harvest, taking care of mother Earth and for the stability of the universe,” he said.
He recounted an instance about a year ago when the singer met a revered writer Stephen Toku of the Nyishi community who has translated a handful of English Bibles into the Nyishi dialect. When asked about his new single he said, “We (Stephen Toku and Nabam) sat down together; he wrote the words and I sung it out. A month later, the song was ready to be recorded. It was recorded at Erki’s Studio, Naharlagun and it was released on Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, YouTube, and all the other notable streaming platforms.”
Talking about his brush with music, Nabam said he grew up watching MTV, his cousin playing the guitar at home and his school seniors rocking it out with the guitar at the school performances. This had had a huge effect on him for it was in the year 2002 when he picked his first guitar. “I promised my folks, I will not fail in my exams,” he added.
Soon after that, he joined the Western Music Society in his Alma mater. He was also a part of the school and the college band and a metal outfit, Guillotine. “We had participated in every competition possible. We were fortunate enough to win some of these competitions and quite a few individual accolades, too. Post college, I started writing my own songs, which I do to this very day,” he said.
In 2012-2013, after attending two semesters at Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music, he acquired his diploma in music performance. Just three years later, he released his debut album, Same Sky, which had a mellow and acoustic sound. In 2018, he released his second album, This Home, That Home and it received a three-star rating in Rolling Stone India. Songs Independent Route and Receding from the same album were on Apple Music’s ‘Top Indian Indie releases’ playlist and also ‘Top 10 Summer songs’ by Rolling Stone India.
When asked which song of his took his creative potential to the extreme, Nabam said: “Made Me Believe from the album This Home, That Home. To have fused sounds ranging from soul, rock, electronic, it was fun to put it together.”
Talking about the independent music scenario in India he said: “It’s alive and kicking. It’s good to see so many good artists, pushing the envelope, touring across the globe. Artistes are surviving playing the music they like, I think that’s the best scenario.”
So what’s next? “I’m looking at releasing some new content. It’s just a matter of how, where and when. Stay tuned,” Nabam added.