The Assamese singer-composer, whose original name is Angaraag Mahanta, prefers to balance mainstream music with folk and his latest album is self-admittedly autobiographical. In a conversation with CS, Papon talks about childhood, career and creativity.
Beginning of music
I’ve grown up with music around me so it’s a part of who I am. My musical journey began before I was born. My mother was teaching and learning Indian classical music when she was pregnant with me. So I must have started listening to music even then! My mom later got me hooked on to ghazals and thumris due to her involvement in Hindustani classical music. My father has been performing folk music and popularising it for years and is a very well-respected figure in Assamese folk music. It was tough to shine or find your own ground under the shadow of such great living legends but I was very lucky that my parents let me find my own path.
Folk versus mainstream
Well, folk music is definitely getting a lot more attention than before and I think that the trend is going to continue for a while. I’m extremely happy about it as I’ve been trying very hard to bring back the old folk forms in whatever way I can.
From architect to musician
I used to paint a lot when I was very young and this led to perspective drawings. I had two cousins who were architects who encouraged me to be an architect as well. Initially, maybe because I took music for granted, it did not excite me as much. But then just as I was getting into it, the same cousin who couldn’t follow music as he chose architecture, told me to understand and practice music as a gift of God and that it was far superior to anything else one can learn in life. So, here’s where I am!
I enjoy both recording in studio as well as performing live at concerts. I cherish being in my own space — giving birth to my ideas in a studio — but then I also equally relish the goose bumps of performing live under the open sky.
A decade to remember
It traces the music I’ve been making for the last ten years; it tells my story so far. I have lived through all these sounds, these thoughts, all these perspectives. The album consists of all my different moods, sounds and thoughts.