Interviewed by- Rajib Lochan
He is a known name to every Assamese household. From the aroma of the roots to which he belongs to the cologne of the urban concrete settlements, singer-composer-lyricist Manas Robin has seen it all. Jonbai, Priya O Priya, Lefafa are just a few names that one associates to his success list. In the following interview, the musical maestro has to say a lot more than just music.
The Journey preludes
It was back in 2000 when I and my troupe performed for the first time at a Bihu function at Lakhimpur. I had the feeling that I was an unknown face, but I was proved wrong as almost all the Bihu committees of the nearby places called us to perform at their respective functions after our first performance. Initially, it was just a one night trip but lasted for 17 more nights. This I feel is the real beginning of my musical journey.
About the First album
Niharika, my first album was conceived during my J B College days, Jorhat with my musician bench-mates. After moving to Guwahati for higher studies, the dream of a music album tempted our thoughts even more. Randomly we composed a few songs and also recorded them. By some stroke of chance, we were noticed by the owner of Music Makers and he liked our compositions and finalized a deal for an album. This way Niharika was born.
About the Singer-Composer-Lyricist
All three belongs to the same family. If beautifully written lyrics are not composed or sung properly, the entire hard work goes in vain. It is also unsatisfying to compose for weak lyrics. Finally, if both lyrics and composition are good but the singing is bad, then the time and labor invested in the song is wasted completely. I don’t know how good I am as a composer, lyricist, or singer but doing the three gives me satisfaction. Moreover, when I approach some other singer to sing my composition, I can say what I exactly want from him/her. I have no personal favorites from the three, but I feel happy when I can do all the three with more perfection.
The touch of Folk
Folk music is very pure and absolutely truthful and it leaves an everlasting effervescence on the listeners’ mind. Incorporating folk into my compositions has always been a conscious effort. In the song, Moi Morim Jidina O (The day when I will die), for which we were severely criticized by our families, friends, and fans, was based on the tune of Deh Bichar folk. In Hinduism, there is the philosophy of sanyas, which means to leave behind all the materialistic charm of life and lead a very simple life. The songs which are based on this philosophy are called Deh Bichar. This is an ancient folk music form; the tunes are similar to general lokogeet (folk song) of Assam. Folk-fusing is already gaining momentum among the musicians of the state, Papon’s Folktronica for example. During the olden times when there was no proper tool of entertainment few musicians, singers, actors from lower Assam came together and traveled different places to perform plays, songs, etc. This is known as jatra, which means a journey in English. Keeping the same concept in mind, I have named my troupe as Jatra. Personally I love composing when dhol is being played in the background. Moreover, I am planning to organize a reality show based on Northeast’s folk music later this year. There will be musicians from Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur, Assam, and all the Northeast states. Any musician who has his roots attached to his music is always appreciated by the people.
Bihu and its Commercialization
The sponsorship offered by the corporate houses to Bihu or any such cultural or community festival is only because of the organizing committee’s approach for the same. The corporate does not have any such motto to get associated with any Bihu function unless they are asked for and in return, the hoardings or a banner of the company is installed at the backdrop or at the side of the stage. These houses do not have any say on the choice of artists or the songs that the artists are going to perform or on anything relating to the function. The good thing about having these companies is that the artists are being paid with a better amount than earlier. The negative impact of which is extensively written about in newspapers or talked about in numerous shows is a myth, I feel and have no real-life relevance. Some may call it commercialization of culture, but they don’t understand that with changing time, things need to change.
About Musical Piracy
Music piracy has crippled the entire music industry all over the world and because of it the ones associated with music-making are not getting their investment back, forget profit. At this crisis hour, finding alternate ways of marketing is the best option and current online marketing is the best option available. My songs can be downloaded and bought from Amazon, which is not only earning me revenues but also making money for the company. Uploading songs in the in-house networks provided by mobile phone manufacturing companies like Nokia’s Ovi, Blackberry, or iPhone and iPad’s iTunes, iCloud, etc is also another good option. An uploading company helps in the song uploading and once the phone is linked with any service provider’s network, songs can be downloaded easily. One thing is to be understood that in this system, the songs are not provided by the service provider but the mobile manufacturing company. The amount deducted because of one download is shared between the company who uploads the songs, the mobile phone company, the service provider whose service-path was used to download the songs and the artist whose song is being downloaded. This way, we not only can stop piracy but also earn better revenues for ourselves.
The Manas-Zubeen duo
I came in contact with Zubeen Garg when I composed music for the Assamese movie Priya O Priya, there he sang two songs and both the songs were a hit. After that, he produced a Bihu album, for which I composed a song. Then we began working together and are collaborated to date.
All about the New Album
The name of my upcoming album is Putola and in it, I have tried to cover from love ballads to socially relevant issues. This self-composed album has 8 different songs, which are all sung by me. I hope to release the album soon.
Bollywood, the final frontier!
Music is beyond any language and none of your good work will go unnoticed and will draw appreciations. I love Nachiketa’s songs, but he hasn’t sung in Hindi or looked towards Bollywood. All I want to say is that it is your work that will give you recognition and not the Bollywood tag. If you are good, Bollywood will come running to you.
As a person, there are no dreams which I may call as unfulfilled but as a musician, I am still waiting for the release of my dream project Taj Mahal. The major portion of the album was complete and all the songs were recorded and advertisements of its release were also out. But due to some reasons, some of which were personal, it never came to the market at the right time. I am still hoping one day it will see daylight.
Last words to the readers
Love what you do and do it with passion and dedication. Success is only a gift of your hard work and dedication.