Shillong based Soulmate on the evolution of the blues genre
When mid-day caught up with the duo in Mumbai on the sidelines of their gig, Sounds Of Society â Divas At The Opera, last week, they were, however, content with the way the genre has evolved in India
Four years ago when I indulged in a tete-a-tete with Soulmate — a Shillong-based blues band comprising guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Rudy Wallang and guitarist-vocalist Tipriti Kharbangar — the duo lamented about the limited options for artistes of their kind to flourish. While Wallang spoke of the challenges they faced when starting out in 2003, Kharbangar was candid about her mother's reluctance towards her entering the "uncertain profession" of music.
When mid-day caught up with the duo in Mumbai on the sidelines of their gig, Sounds Of Society — Divas At The Opera, last week, they were, however, content with the way the genre has evolved in India.
"Back in the day, people only listened to the [pop] music that aired on channels like MTV and VH1. They had little choice. While the blues genre was around, it wasn't as popular as it is in India today. We've come a long way," says Wallang. Kharbangar seconds him, stating that when they look back, they realise that the challenges they faced in the initial days were worth the recognition they've achieved. "It is not easy to play blues in a country like India. I am glad that today, things are not as difficult for musicians like us as they were in the past."
The lack of performance venues in Shillong, they say, was a deterrent for talent from the region to gain recognition. "We didn't have venues. Shillong is a small city. But now, we have a handful of places where we can play. Things are better across places in the northeast. Fans can look forward to live entertainment every weekend at places like Tango and Cloud 9, where such events take place. Also, amateur artistes can perform at venues like Mellow Mood Cafe, Dylan's Café and Cafe Shillong," says Wallang.