Born and raised in Guwahati, Krantik‘s childhood was spent in the midst of nature’s beauty and music which reflects in his album ‘Xekh Abelir Gaan’. In an exclusive interview, Krantik shares how he put together the album and his experience of working with some very talented people like Priyanku Bordoloi, Aniruddha Baruah and more.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Guwahati, in a middle-class Assamese family. My childhood was spent happily with cousins, uncles and aunts from my mom’s side – most of whom lived together in the old house in Bharalumukh. To that was added annual visits to my father’s village in Nalbari, which would be a treat because we got to do a thousand little things that was possible only in the countryside – from fishing with my cousins to just playing in the pond for hours.
I had lost my father early so it was left to my mom, a bank employee, to raise me along with two sisters, both older to me. And I think she has done a splendid job by giving us enough room to grow and choose our own paths.
It is difficult to describe my own personality but I guess I am your typical low key guy – always looking to avoid centre stage. If brooding was a profession, I think I would do extremely well. But studying and working in Delhi for the most part of my productive life has changed me a bit. I am definitely more outgoing now – or at least, I can pretend to be when required.
When did you start your musical journey?
I think it starts right from the beginning with every child growing up in Guwahati to some degree. It was not different for me. Also, the fact that both my sisters received training in Hindustani classical from my aunt meant that I was exposed to melodies very early. Then of course, later on in school I got introduced to western pop and eventually to rock and blues in high school. My cousin had a collection of cassettes – covering from Dylan to the Little River Band. So, you know, these were the many channels through which I got my exposure. Of course I took my own monthly pilgrimages to Meghali Music (famous store of Fancy Bazaar for cassettes and CDs) pretty seriously, and between my sis, and me we still have an enviable cassette collection.
My first instrument was a mini guitar gifted by my dad when I was probably 7 or 8 but I never learnt it. After high school though, once I was bitten by the rock n’ roll bug, I spent all the money I had collected during my thread ceremony and finally got a real sized guitar and started learning the chords. I think a lot of guys do that. So, you know, it was by and large the typical musical journey of a guy growing up in Guwahati during the 90s.
How did ‘Xekh Abelir Gaan’ happen? For how long did you work on it?
Most of the compositions in the album were done in a span of 3 months, back in 2013. I must admit, I surprised myself. But once I had composed the melodies and written the lyrics, I realized I had a responsibility to myself to share them with the audience. So it took me almost three years to record and release it.
But the process of ‘thinking’ music and not just being a passive listener must have began around 2010 when I had a chance meeting with now friend and collaborator, Parashar Kashyap with whom I started making these home-made YouTube videos of cover songs under the name ‘The Delhi Jam’. We had other people joining us frequently but mostly it was the trio of Parashar, another friend Rohit Choudhury and me.
What are the songs about in ‘Xekh Abelir Gaan’?
I think I have captured many moods. It’s a collage of imageries and hopefully it will evoke various emotions in the audience. It has dark moody songs like Gobhir Raati that searches into childhood memories to mushy romantic songs like Jumi Jumi. It also has songs written in moments of inspiration that deals with our existence in general like Janu Ase. And it also has very easy going and laid-back songs like Xekh Aabelir Gaan, which, of course is the title song for the album.
Who are the people you worked with? How was the experience?
I have been very lucky on this aspect because a lot of senior people in the industry came forward to help me once they heard the rough scratches I had made with Parashar who, as a guitar player, was instrumental in arranging the music for many of the songs. So, I had people like Bulbul Das, Priyanku Bordoloi, and Aniruddha Baruah playing for the album who are highly respected musicians in Assam. Partha Boro from Lucid Recess also agreed to record the drums live. While in Chennai, I got help from other musicians like Ram Murthy who scored the piano for couple of songs and Maarten Visser who played saxophone for one song. Also, Bob Phukan – a senior mixing engineer based out of Chennai helped out with the mixing.
Honestly, I think the whole experience has been very enriching but at the same time it has also been quite exhausting to produce an album with a regular job and typically long work hours.
How has been the response so far?
I think it’s still early days but till now whoever has listened to the songs have given positive feedback, especially on the compositions. Given the nature of the industry in Assamese music today, I’m not sure how many people I can reach out to without making videos – which I am personally averse to. So fingers crossed, I guess.
Any plans to perform in the Northeast in the near future?
Oh well, I need to rope in band members first. But yes, I would love to do it.
Listen to his songs here:
As told to Jadeed Hussain