Summersalt, the folk-fusion band from Meghalaya who worked with music directors Shankar Ehsaan Loy for Rock On 2, have released their self titled album complete with 12 songs. Summersalt is Kitkupar C Shangpliang (Kit) on vocal/front/acoustic guitar, Adorbha C Shangpliang (Ador) on traditional instruments, duitara and keys/vocal support, Dawadhok C Shangpliang (Weet) on drums/ vocal/house tools, Pynsuklin Syiemiong (Pynsuk) as female vocal, Baiaineh C Shangpliang (Nah) on bass guitar/vocal support and Gregory Ford Nongrum (Greg) on electric guitar/vocal support.
In this exclusive interview, they open up about their experience of recording at the famous Yash Raj Studios, performing with Farhan Live at NH7 Weekender and their new album.
Summersalt is a folk-fusion band. Do you incorporate any indigenous musical instruments?
We have tried and tested a wide array of indigenous instruments that have either become the driving force of songs or as accompaniment. The Duitara (Khasi stringed instrument) has become a key component of our music and has driven a few, if not most of our songs. Percussive instruments such as the nakra, the ksing shynrang and other home tools have also been incorporated in our music
How many songs are there in the album? What are the songs about?
There are 12 songs in the album, of which 4 were made into music videos. Each song has its own unique message. They talk about the social nitty-gritty and the possible solutions based on ancient wisdom. We’d like to believe that our songs offer a sense of direction for this present day generation. It is our understanding that if we can’t change the world through our music, we can at least change someone’s world with it. Change is necessary only if it makes us better people than we were yesterday.
What is your music making process?
Most of it begins with Kit writing the songs. Some songs would already have a basic melody and lyrics as well. The ‘guide song’ will then be brought into the jampad where we all give our inputs and write the music around it. Most songs evolve in this manner. There were songs when we would all sit down together and work to change a few things or write the song from scratch as a band. So it differs from one song to the other but the end result would always be one where we would all have our inputs.
You worked with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy for Rock On 2. How was the experience?
Working with the Rock On 2 crew was a humbling experience and it has opened new vistas. We had great fun in the studio working with SEL. Shankar Mahadevan is just this ball of energy that got us all in the right mood and the right mindset to work on the song. His advice was crucial in the vocal sections of the song. Loy is a down to earth gentleman who helped us through mutual decisions to take the song in the path we all chose.
Ehsaan being a guitarist did work closely with Greg in making sure the guitar tone was as huge as the song. The electric guitar is the lead instrument in Hoi Kiw/Chalo Chalo so Ehsaan and Greg did their best to perfect that. The experience was very eye opening as well. We had a very positive and inspiring couple of days with SEL and the brilliant Usha Uthup.
What did you learn while working for Rock On 2?
Rock On 2 experience taught us a lot. There was professional respect that was shown from every section of production. Right from our recording process in Yash Raj Studios, working with SEL, Farhan Akhtar and the whole production team at YR Studios, then shooting was something right out of our comfort zones. We had done stuff for our own music videos but to be in front of a Bollywood production and under the surveillance of a giant drone was a whole new different ball game. It was tiring and fun all the way. So at the end of the day, we take home humility, professional respect, work discipline, and willingness to evolve.
What do you think is the reason behind the success of Summersalt, especially the song ‘Hoikiw Chalo Chalo’?
The popularity of Summersalt’s songs is because of the truth, therefore, it has life in it and a listener is provided with some sense of direction – a thing that we need so badly these days. There is no room for pretence in our lyrics and that’s the way it is with ‘Hoikiw Chalo Chalo’ – we sing because we mean every alphabet of every word and we play every note of every bar with creative and ethnic conviction, hence, the energy.
The Hindi version was recorded at Yash Raj Studios, Mumbai, where Summersalt’s songwriter Kit Shangpliang shared some time with Javed Ji. It was more a natural creative encounter and in a way, it was effortless and we can’t think of serious challenges. It was such a soothing workspace that we had. The song has already been part of Summersalt’s line-up for more than 7 years now and we’ve sung it in Meghalaya and outside. All we did for Rock On 2, is take it to the next level and contextualize it for the Bollywood audience. The ethnic inspiration remains.
For more information, visit their website
As told to Jadeed Hussain