Touching the musical note: A conversation with Kangkan Nath
I came across a quote a few days back which said that people who introduced you to a new kind of music are special! It got me thinking because the quote was not shared by just another music enthusiast, but a musician who is doused deep in music. Kangkan Nath is no Hindi movie Rockstar but for those who take music seriously, he is a name to reckon with. You may see this lean and tall man swinging his long hair at Terra Mayaa to his creation of mind gripping music that actually touches the soul.
Don’t go by his humble appearance, the man is the brain tank behind the music setup and design of one of the most talked about, dining banquet hall at Jorhat, Rajputana. He has many feathers to his cap including the role of Head of Faculty at Vibes School of Music.
And yet the moment you talk to him all that comes across is a surmounting dose of humility. On a more serious note, we got Kangkan Nath out-loud and candid about his choice of music and much more in this interview. The first thing I wanted to know was his idea of music and EDM (electronic dance music)
Q: So Kangkan, what is mainstream EDM for you and how is your music different from usual EDM that we get to hear at Parties?
What we call EDM today falls under the vast world of Electronic dance Music. There is no EDM Sub-Genre in electronic music. To name a few there are Ambient, Breakbeat, Disco, Downtempo, House music, Drum and bass, Electronica and much more and technically for me all Dance Music produced electronically / digitally are EDM. People call everything EDM because they don't know the history and the sub-genres.
Our music is nowhere close to what people call EDM. We play different sets for different venues. In club show, we perform A progressive set: from chill-out music to Guitar experimental music and effects. We do Harmonic Mixing, so whatever we play goes in harmony and in key with the guitar. We also produce our own music, samples and effects and we use those live by triggering through MIDI controllers. We are still working on our sets and improving as we are playing more and more, reiterated a serious and absorbed musician.
However, for me, the whole musical knowledge was no doubt exciting, but my interest was more in knowing about his journey. For an average Indian youth, the parental pressure of gaining a proper degree and getting a respectable job is enough to crumble their hopes. In such a society how did Kangkan managed to fulfil his aspiration?
Q: Didn’t your parents want you to be a doctor or an engineer?
Well, obviously it wasn’t very easy, where music is taken as a hobby and people don’t even know that they can earn a living out of it. It was a hard time convincing my parents that I wanted to do something in music. I had to convince them about my vision and in this my elder sister helped me a lot. She made them understand, she was the pillar of support, especially when I decided to take-up Music as a career. But I must also add that my parents are very cool and they allowed me to do what I wanted to do. And then I began my musical journey. I undertook so many travels, meeting new people and learning the art, grooming myself, getting better and better every day. My friends and teachers at ICOM (International College of music) Kuala Lumpur helped me a lot. It is there where I learnt all the crafts and skills of what I do today for a living and I love it!
It was quite clear to me that Kangkan had arrived in this city with a wider vision of music which derived inspiration not only from folk music but also from world music. Perhaps, this was the reason why he did not want to categorise his creation into EDM or any particular type. His tunes are fresh, new and unique unlike what I have heard before in the events and parties at Guwahati. Of course, my thoughts now lingered at the influences that helped him to create music.
Q: What influenced you to join the world of music?
I always felt the connection with Music from my childhood days and somehow I knew that I have to be connected with Music throughout my life. When I saw my Idols Iron Maiden live in Bangalore 2007, that was my 1st International Live band experience; it was then I decided that I have to be connected to music and make a living out of it.
I skipped asking him how young he was back then, was the decision made by an impressionist mind or a choice made by a strong headed individual who was ready to choose a less trodden path? I had to know what the future of his choice was and what he thought about the current Bollywood industry that dominated the music world in India.
Q: India is mainly a country where Bollywood music rules, people are more attuned to lyrics and poetry. How do you plan to woo such a crowd towards your genre?
Bollywood music is one tiny part of Indian Music if you look at it. Our music is so vast but mainstream TV’s only concentrates on Bollywood Music; constantly putting it in our heads. There are some really catchy tunes though and hats off to the Music producers/Musicians/mix and master engineer who creates it. There are a lot of good underground gigs and festivals happening besides Bollywood music and a lot of people who love good music and respect different genres, turn up in such events. We don’t have to beg people to come to our shows or listen to our music. If the Music is strong, people will come to listen to you. We don’t need thousands of fans and followers, our Music is deep, people will take time to absorb, but that’s fine; we have patience. For the time being, we are working on creating music and improving ourselves.
Kangkan’s mention of music producers, music editors, instrumentalists, mix and master engineer gave me a glimpse of the angst of a musician in this country. Most of us mostly associate music with singer and hardly, do we make an effort to give a thought to other professionals who put an equal effort into fine tuning the music that reaches our ear. Perhaps, this is the discomfort which the modern day musicians often show. The new breed of musicians, do not wish to bind themselves into prose, poetry, lyrics or voice. They just want their unsullied music to travel from their mind to the mind of listeners in its most pristine form.
Q: What are the other genres that you listen and who do you listen for inspiration?
I listen to a lot of Artistes and genres and my favourite changes from time to time. To name a few, I love Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix, The Beatles, Coldplay, Opeth, Porcupine tree, Dream theatre and I can listen to them any day. But right now I am listening to a lot of different Producers and their Music. These days I listen to a lot of Tycho, Bonobo, Blackmill, Toe, Modestep, Mt. Eden, Phaeleh, Rameses B, Hans Zimmer and many more.
And then, I quickly asked him about his muse, all artists have one and I being an astute journalist wanted a name…
Q: Now, here’s the fun part, who is the muse in your life?
For me, a muse could be any general person who inspires a musician or a writer or any artist. A phase of life, experiences, and memories could be a muse too. My point is that inspirations are all around us, we just have to listen. So it’s hard to say who the muse in my life is because there is so much inspiration. I admire a lot of Musicians. I admire them because they are talented and humble and they are doing what they love, connecting with people around the globe through their Music, that’s something money can’t buy. I admire them for believing that they CAN, even though it was not easy for them but they stood for Music. That is what I wanted to do and what I wanted to feel like, make an endless connection with people through my music. So, there you go, that’s my muse.
… And as you can read, like a skilful celebrity he dodged the question well and I could not get any particular name. But before ending the interview I decided to throw a question related to his upcoming projects.
Q: Twin city is doing well; people come to Terra Mayaa to listen to you, what next, what are the other projects in the pipeline?
Yeah, we have got a lot of Gigs planned in coming days. Playing every Thursday at Terra Mayaa really helped us a lot because it’s not easy to pull the crowd on a weekday. People do come and enjoy our music and we are getting a lot of good feedback. But we have to constantly evolve and improve ourselves. Right now we are working on our new projects and spending a lot of time in the studio. We have a couple of projects and collaborations lined up. Recently, we were featured at Topaz; we performed our debut gig in Shillong on 26th November. I work as a live sound engineer as well, so I have some gigs lined to mix.
I am also associated with Rajputana Login at Jorhat which is a state of the art fine dining banquet hall as the Sound Consultant and I'll be managing the Sound department from end-to-end. I’ll be always thankful to Mr. Anurag Singh, for giving me this opportunity. Other than that, Twin City is my main goal. A lot of new venture is coming up and I am very excited.
The interview with Kangkan Nath, allowed me to tour the music canopy of his life which highlighted the very creative mind of this man. The unending desire of a musician to bring the best and the relentless hard work he puts on doing that simply exemplifies his dedication to music. We look forward to hear more of the soulful music from this talented artist in the days to come and wish him all the success!
Words: Chandra Goswami