What is the defining limit to measure one’s success in the field of music? Is it the number of subscribers one has on YouTube or is it the number of views? Can it be the number of times a popular artiste recommended or even commented on the music, or is it just the content? Assam singer Kabyashree Bora aka Kaysee has a different outlook altogether.
“The focus should always be on the quality of the work, and personal satisfaction. The rest will follow,” she said (although she has blue ticked all the above-stated benchmarks).
Born in Golaghat, the 23-year-old singer who was raised throughout Bokaghat, Kaliabor, Majuli and now Jorhat has gathered over 13.8k subscribers on her YouTube channel with just five songs. Each of her songs has a flair of dark undertone with a mix of hip-hop and slow jazz making it easily distinguishable from the myriad of others (although she would still sway to any energetic Bollywood number as well).
Kaysee is also all set to drop a new single on Saturday titled Burning Questions and team VibesMojo was able to get some exclusive tit bits of the song.
“It’s a progressive rock number produced by Basshole (Mandeep Taro), who is hands down one of the finest music producers from the Northeast. The song was originally a poem written by Snehashis Parashar, titled Burning Questions. As he put it, “The poem was about a conversation between my outer self and my inner self, who were getting more and more dissonant.” I’ve always been a fan of Snehashis’s work, and when I asked him to write me a song, he was kind enough to let me merge his beautiful words with some melodies of my own, inspired by Mandeep’s musical excellence.”
The team even filmed the music video during the lockdown which is produced by Ekoda. “It has been absolutely thrilling to watch him being a one man army and taking care of everything including direction, cinematography, editing and post-production, and we’re all quite happy with the result. It’s releasing tomorrow at 5 PM.”
When asked how difficult it was to shoot during the pandemic she said that it was definitely difficult at first. “But we learn to acknowledge and accept everything in the course of time, even a pandemic. The show must go on! What’s more important is that we follow the guidelines and take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus and keep ourselves and everyone around us safe,” she added.
Of late, Bora has been working in a musical web-series called The Socho Project, which is also a first of its kind in India. Produced by Abhigyan Jha and Mrinal Jha, it’s an attempt at reviving the music industry from a stagnant state. The series promises 25 original songs from nine musicians from different genres, and Bora has been composing and doing playback for the character of MJ.
“I’m very excited about this project, all thanks to Ambar Das sir, who recommended my music to the producers. The Socho Project is yet to have a release date or a streaming platform. But we’ve already released a couple of songs that can be found on all streaming platforms including YouTube,” an elated Bora added.
When asked about the growth of interest in music, her maa (mother) always used to say, “She started singing Gose Gose Pati Dile even before she was introduced to the concept of a ‘Gos’ (Tree),” said the artist (Gose Gose Pati Dile is a Jyoti Sangeet).
Her interest in music was nurtured from a very young age by her father who used to sing her to sleep with all sorts of Borgeet, Lukogeet, Ghuxa to name a few. Incidentally, her father is also an expert in many percussion instruments of the likes of Tabla, Dhol, and Khol, Pepa and Flute as well. Add on to it the continuous belting of hit numbers by her elder sister from dawn till dusk gave a constant reminder that music was in her blood.
After a couple of wins in singing during her school years, she got trained in Indian classical music till Madhyama. Now with the advent of various Disney music artists, her teen years were focused on the ‘hero-worshiping’ of these characters. These included Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, and Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber as well. “I once had a Justin Bieber fan account on Twitter with more than 50K followers,” she sheepishly added.
Whilst humming to the melodies of Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Norah Jones, Christina Aguilera and grooving to the hits of Michael Jackson, Shakira, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, the next thing she knew was a guitar on her hands. Exploring in the unknown worlds of music; different genres and different languages she found herself producing the beats of her song, Ei Sohor.
This, however, begs the question that is it a pre-requisite for all singers to dabble a bit into covering songs of prominent figures of the music fraternity before discovering one’s voice. Bora says no to ‘must’ but covering songs does help one find a steady rhythm before digging into the original stuff. She added, “Personally speaking, my covers are my way of paying tribute to the song or the particular artist making it.”
Codifying her songwriting process to be ‘quite unpredictable,’ she adds, “Even a simple chord might be enough to get me going all scientist with insane experiments.” Bora also has a lot of new music in the pipeline this year which also includes some collaborations with some incredibly talented people.
With such an immense following in her YouTube channel, Facebook and Instagram pages, Bora who goes by the moniker Kaysee keeps herself grounded. “You can say I set goals and try to accomplish them, but I don’t really aim for a great outcome. Expectations often lead to disappointment, and it’s bad for the creative flow,” she added.
Kaysee sings predominantly in Assamese, drawing inspiration from her ‘gods’ Bhupen Hazarika, Jayanta Hazarika and the early works of Zubeen Garg. She has a plethora of other artists from which she takes dosages of inspiration time and time again. This roster includes artists like Tori Kelly, Jessie J, Selah Sue, Dua Lipa, Avicii and Zedd, and AR Rahman as well.
Talking about the evolution of the Assamese music scene Bora feels that evolution is a natural process and inevitable one as well. However, when evolution does happen, it becomes that much more imperative to hold onto one’s roots, for without them we become nothing more than a ship without its rudder, flowing without any purpose and miserably too. “It is absolutely possible to embrace a change with open arms all the while staying rooted firmly to the ground,” she adds.
“Any plans on future collaborations with other artists?” “Yes absolutely. Assam is filled to the brim with talents, and I feel very lucky to have discovered and to be working with some amazing artists who have so much to offer for the world to hear, and see, and feel at heart. I cannot wait to share all the content we have in store!” she adds.