I don't go out in the streets in daylight: Papon

Singer-composer Papon, who has been invited to the Red Bull Music Academy in Paris this year, says he steps out of his house only at night as fans throng to his home in the day

Angaraag Mahanta, better known as Papon, has a fan following that goes beyond his Bollywood admirers. With his band Papon and The East India Company, the singer, composer and record producer has toured across the globe, popularising Indian folk music. The singer recently won the GIMA award for the best pop album of the year and is all set to go to the Red Bull Music Academy in Paris in October this year.

Excerpts from an interview:

Q. What does winning the GIMA award for best pop album a second time mean to you?
A. It's very encouraging and makes me believe in my work. It's also very good for the independent music scene.

Papon enthrals the audience with his renditions at a concert
Papon enthrals the audience with his renditions at a concert 

Q. You've been invited to the Red Bull Music Academy. What are you looking forward to the most?
A. The Academy is one of the most forward thinking global platforms for creating, celebrating and collaborating in music. From thousands of applicants every year, they handpick only 60 participants to attend the programme. I'm delighted to be offered an exclusive opportunity to attend three days at the Academy as a special guest who will get access to the particip-ants for two days of lectures, and be a part of the club nights. I'm also looking forward to meeting legendary musicians and global icons that have shaped music and the way we listen to it today.

Q. You released your first Hindi album in 2012. Are you planning to release another Hindi album?
A. The Story So Far got me the first GIMA. The response was very good and yes, I have started working on my next Hindi and Assamese album simultaneously.

Q. As someone who promotes folk music as much as you do, do you think that the rise in its popularity is a trend that's here to stay?
A. Folk has always been used as a base for many melodies in Indian music and elsewhere too. But in India, folk music and artistes don't get the recognition they deserve. We are trying to bring folk music to the mainstream and make it cool. Our attempt is to give it the recognition it deserves. We have been sucessful to a large extent.

Q. In recent times, we've noticed a slight shift in your music from folksy to more electronica-based. Is there a deliberate reason, and if so, what is it?
A. I have been doing both forms of folk—the pure authentic traditional stuff and also the contemporary mix of folk with rock and electronic. I love electronic sounds and I love blending the new and the old.

Q. You've collaborated with many singers, but your chemistry with Midival Punditz stands out. Can you tell us a bit about that?
A. I love collaborating and I have actually been fortunate to get opportunities to collaborate with a lot of artists across the world. Midival and I go a long way back and we are very good friends. We understand each other very well, hence, the chemistry.

Q. You have a massive fan-following in Assam...
A.Yes, it's unbelievable! My fans call themselves Paponists and they have opened NGOs by the same name and now do social work on the issues I discuss on stage during my shows. I don't go out in the streets in daylight! And there are always some fans waiting outside my house all day. So, I go out only in the night.

Q. What's next?
A. I have sung for Tanu Weds Manu 2 and Bombay Velvet. I will begin work on my ghazal album, too.

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