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News |  20 Nov 2012 18:34 |  By zualachhangte

We have never compromised, never will: Soulmate

Soulmate, made up of Rudy Wallang (Guitar/Vocals/Songwriter) and Tipriti TIPS Kharbangar (Vocals/Guitar), from the misty mountains- Meghalaya has relentlessly forged ahead with their groove-laden Blues music since they formed in 2003. They frequently team up with local artists (on drums, bass and possibly other backup instruments) when on tour.

Soulmate gained nationwide recognition and popularity within the Jazz and Blues circles in India after they became the only Blues band to represent the country (Courtesy The Blues Club of India) at the International Blues Challenge organized by The Blues Foundation of America, in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, in February 2007. They were semi-finalists and performed at The Rum Boogie Café (Blues Club of The Year) alongside 150 other bands and musicians from all over the world.

No stranger to live shows, the band is in town for the 100 Pipers India Music Week (IMW). Radioandmusic.com (RnM) caught up with co-founder Wallang before he warmed up his amps.

Excerpts

As a Blues band, what are your core values towards what you see. From where do you source your experiences as a band? Do you have a message – socially or politically?

What we see are a lot of good people in need of entertainment and it is our job to do just that. There are a lot of expectations and sometimes the pressure is great-especially when we have to travel long distances with little or no sleep- but we have accepted that as a part of the deal. Our main objective is to play a good gig and make people happy, make them go back with good memories.

We are not into politics as such but we would like to ask politicians to use their 'power' positively. We as citizens know what is needed to develop our country- we vote for people who we think are right for the job...it’s up to them to lead the way. We feel there is a limit to greed!

Independent music has come a long way and bands like you have stuck it out. How has the journey been compared to when you started out?

Like we have said many a time(s) before, when we first started out there was this skepticism about a band playing the Blues in India and getting anywhere with it. In the end it’s about how sincere, dedicated and passionate one is. Everything will fall into place after that! Also we cannot forget to mention all the fans and friends that have helped and supported us along the way. India has come a long way from when we started out 10 years ago... The acceptance by audiences here for original music by Indian bands.

What is your opinion on digitalization of music? Have you leveraged (made use of) the platform? Are records still a relevant way to go about making music?

See, whatever medium helps an artist get their music across will be good. We have our songs online on iTunes. But as fans of music ourselves, we always feel that having a hard copy of a band's album makes us feel just that much closer to the musicians. If by 'records' you mean complete 8/10 song albums, we feel that a full album can give you a better picture of the band and can make you understand the band better rather than have just a single or something like that. Imagine just one chapter in a book! The songs tell stories and people love stories especially when they're told well. And if by 'records' you mean vinyl... It’s coming back.

The other side of the coin though is that digitalization has made it easier for people to 'steal' music without realizing the amount of blood, sweat and tears that have gone into making the music... so much so that some musicians have been giving it out for free.... We don't think musicians make money off selling 'records'...they earn through gigging.

On live platform, how does an event like ‘India Music Week’ compare to a commercialized event like ‘Mahindra Blues Fest’ (which is basically the company’s PR exercise for the US market)?

They are both quite different actually. Seagram's 100 Pipers IMW is meant for Indian musicians/bands, event managers, promoters  to come together on one platform and discuss the pro's and con's of the Indian music scene as well as giving a platform for Indian artiste's to perform in front of different audiences. This is really positive because a lot of new talent gets connected with interested promoters not only from India but from abroad as well. We feel the whole idea behind Amit Saigal ( 1965- 2012; who launched Rock Street Journal-RSJ and initiated IMW) setting this up was for the sole purpose of promoting Indian musical talent.

On the other hand, Mahindra Blues Festival is a ‘Festival’- a Blues Festival. Whether it’s a PR exercise (for Mahindra) or whatever doesn't really matter. It’s another platform for Indian Blues musicians to perform and share stage(s) with people they have looked up to or been inspired by... It just makes it so much better when we know that we don't have to dream about going abroad to watch a band play live when it's happening right here at our door step!

Where do you think the band is headed- 5 years on? Who are your music (or otherwise) heroes?

Hopefully still alive and kicking that is if the world doesn't come to an end this year.  We have a lot of musical heroes- too many to name for sure! We also love and look up to people who are compassionate, kind, wise and not really into power and greed...if you know what I mean.

The North East is considered a hotbed of Blues & Rock music. How come there are so few artists from the region? As you become more mainstream, have you been accused of ‘selling out’?

Correction- not a 'hotbed' of Blues and Rock... just a lot of really talented human beings. A lot of them frustrated as well because of the lack of opportunities here. Western music has been and always will be a part of our lives.

And we don't think we have sold out at all! We've just made it a little easier for other musicians to follow their hearts and be who and what they want to be and we still play our Blues and we still have a lot of fans and friends coming to our gigs. We have never compromised and never will!

Last words before hitting the IMW stage.

All's well that ends well and we feel that the way things are going..The India Music Scene will only get better...Thanks to my friend Amit Saigal for his vision and hard work... and to all the event organizers, sponsors and fans and friends for supporting and believing in us musicians.

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