If you've been following the New Delhi music circuit or the Indian music scene in general, you must have heard of Takar Nabam. A beast of guitar player who went from playing Pantera to Charlie Parker over the last few years. Fun fact : There was once a time when Takar and I used to jam to Cacophony ( you guitar players should know ) and dreamed of forming an act just like that.
I asked him about his upcoming release 'This Home. That Home' and how his approach to promoting his music and recording an album.
Read the interview below.
Let's dive right into it, you have a new album coming out ' This Home, That Home' Tell us about the meaning behind the name and the general tone of the album?
Takar Nabam: This album talks of my journey, about the ups and downs and how I dealt with it. I have had a relatively lonely upbringing as I was sent to Delhi back in 1997 when I was only just a kid. My family was away for most part of the year. As a kid, you look for somebody who can be your guiding hand. It was during those times that music came to me as solace. It comforted me and became my best friend. The first song in this album ‘Independent Route’ talks more specifically about this phase of my life, and how music also eventually made me meet some of my very good friends.
Like everyone else, I have had my quarter life crisis, my own relationship and career issues. I have had times when nothing was going right. These strong emotions can be felt in my songs.
I have met someone very special now who has been a strong supporting pillar, an inspiration, a cushion I could count on when I fall. The album closes with "Receding" which concludes this chapter, this phase. I feel I've overcome some of my doubts and I'm hopeful that together we will reverse the mighty tide ahead of us.
This entire album was recorded with Ritwik De at Ghar Ka Studios in New Delhi but you previously recorded with Anindo Bose from Plug N Play. Were there any particular/specific reasons why you chose to work with a different engineer and studio?
I was really happy with what Anindo Bose from Plug N Play did for my first album 'Same Sky'. Very neat and clean work. I chose Ghar ka Studios this time because of the sound I was heading towards, a more dirty, driven sound. I've known Ritwik since college and we do have a few common musical influences. I had a strong feeling that he'd be the right engineer for the newer sound. I must add that working at both these studios has been a wonderful experience.
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Takar Nabam (left) + Ritwik De (right) at Ghar Ka Studios.[/caption]
Since you worked with other musicians on this album, were they given specific instructions on what and how to play or did you allow them to add their own individual character to the music?
The only change that happened this time was the bass player. My good friend and a wonderful bass player, Steve Peter, played a few gigs with me and Aveleon Vaz, who also played on 'Same Sky', to start with. We got together really well and started to vibe more together as a trio. I made the rough arrangements of the songs at home and shared them to these guys. Not all of my arrangement ideas worked for the trio setting, so I was open to their suggestions as well.
Your first album 'Same Sky' was released a few years ago (year?), can you tell me how you approached promoting that album?
'Same Sky' came out in February 2016. I started the promotion with 2 music videos, in a span of 3 months and then released the physical copies with a short tour. I had sold a few hundred copies of the album at the gigs. I had put it up on online streaming after 1 month.
What were some of the challenges you faced as an independent artist in terms of promo and marketing?
Firstly, the lack of a solid financial backing. In order to get my music to the masses, I had to boost my posts on social media, all expenses were borne by me. Secondly, I'm not a marketing expert so I had to research quite a bit about releasing music and the promotion part of it, wish I could devote that time on practicing! But, doing this helped me learn quite a bit about music business, which is also very important.
How have you approached the marketing and promo for your upcoming album? Is this another DIY effort or do you have plans to release it through an indie label?
What I've learnt from my previous release is that one shouldn't build up the release too much just on social media but, also play shows and get people to hear the music before putting it out. Keeping this approach in mind, I did a 4 cities tour in North East India, last December, with my trio comprising Steve on bass, Aveleon on drums. We played really good shows and we got a pretty good response and they are looking forward to the release. I'm glad this happened!
It's a DIY effort, there's no label involved, at least not until now.
I started with a music video release of a single "Receding" which is one of the heaviest songs of the album. This song was chosen because it is the concluding song of the album, and also, I felt it would grab people's attention quickly.
Recording an album can be a very expensive project to undertake. What are some of the things you do ensure you don't run over budget?
Well, the money is never enough! But given the budget I had for the recording, I chose a studio, the musicians under my budget, brought our own gears, borrowed some gears from our friends, little things here and there to cut down the expenses.
It doesn't just end here on studio expenses, I'd have to shell out quite a bit on promotion, tours, etc. For instance, the North East India tour we did, I only made about 70% of the overall expense. But I know I'll recover it through more gigs once the album comes out!
Specifically, in the Delhi music circuit, what do you think are some of the challenges that artists face when they're starting out?
I think finding the right set of people to play with is a bit of a challenge. I've met many good solo artists who are still looking to form a band of their own but, they can't find anyone. There are quite a lot of session musicians in Delhi, nowadays, so for someone to even form a band, he/she needs the financial backing to pay the session artists, for rehearsal rooms.
Also, artists starting out afresh do get exploited by event organisers, and in the veil of 'exposure' they're asked to play for free or their payments getting delayed by months. So, it's important to know your place and hold your ground. You only learn after you've gone through it yourself.
Lastly, an artist might want to try out things that are 'in' or 'trendy' in the music circuit, and inorder to get certain gigs, they lose the plot, forget who they are. They stop working on original music. But then everyone has different priorities.
Don't get me wrong, it's completely alright to try out newer approaches and evolve as an artist but, let things happen naturally don't over force certain things because it's trendy.
Do you have any gigs lined up?
As of now, I'll be playing with my trio at The Bar Cat on the 16th February. Expecting 19th or 20th in Itanagar, but that hasn't been confirmed yet. We're also working on getting dates for the tour, which will be later in March.
Alright! One sentence to promote your album - GO!
Rock, soul, pop, electronic....a bit of all here and there, you're in for a treat!
Check out the first single 'Receding' here:
Takar Nabam plans to release his new album ' This Home. That Home' in early March.
You can also find him on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/takarnabammusic/