Papon: I try to become the song

Updated: 07 December, 2016 15:28 IST | Wriddhaayan bhattacharyya |

Folk musician Papon’s new album is all about transcending genres

Papon  at the NH7 Weekender gig, where he played a set of his old and new songs, on Saturday
Papon  at the NH7 Weekender gig, where he played a set of his old and new songs, on Saturday 

Musicians prefer to hold on to a particular sound. Bands and solo artistes are known to follow the practice to create a signature. But Papon — the Folk singer who also hit the jackpot in the film industry — is eyeing a different chord. After being the face of Bihu Folk music of Assam (which he introduced on MTV Coke Studio in 2011) for a few years, he started experimenting with his voice. His second album The Story So Far EP 1, though a continuation of his first that released in 2012, narrates his mission for newer sounds.

Bihu to Reggae
The 41-year-old singer has ridden through Qawwali to Pop in the album. He tested his repertoire with Amir Khusrow’s Eri Sakhi among acoustic ballads like Kahin Na Kahin and Sahil. On the other hand, Loving A Dream is a Reggae track. But what took him four years? "Amongst other commitments, it takes a while to record an album.

It took me time to compose tunes. I wanted every song to sound different from my last album," says Papon, who recently won awards for the song, Moh Moh Ke Dhage (Dum Laga Ke Haisha). Bollywood kept him busy all these years, but it also helped him grow. "Working with several music directors and technicians gave me inputs. They helped me think differently and told me how to approach production. My commitments may have held the release but it enhanced my perception of sound design. It shaped my ideas for the new album," he adds. 

Papon’s mother, Archana Mahanta (second, right), beside Manasi Scott and Shubha Mudgal (second, left), unveiled the cover of the EP 

Being the song
However, Papon believes he doesn’t balance genres. "I try to become the song. It is a bit of me in every song that I do," he says. He owes his natural talent to his lineage. Born to renowned Folk singers Khagen Mahanta and Archana Mahanta, his childhood was immersed in music. "I was exposed to Indian Classical Music through my parents. Like my father, I am open-minded. It provides me the freedom to absorb other genres," says Papon, who is releasing the EP in three parts.

A Bihu album, however, is not on the cards. "I have done a lot of Bihu and Folk. It is not that I do not celebrate or enjoy that anymore, but if I keep doing that, I won’t be able to excel in discovering new sounds," explains Papon.Call it luck or fate, he was on stage at the NH7 Weekender (to promote the album) at the same time with British singer-songwriter Steven Wilson. "In fact, he was on stage before me. The slots clashed for the audience as well as for us. But, surprisingly, I had a mind-blowing crowd," he smiles.

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First Published: 06 December, 2016 08:52 IST

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