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The theme is me, my life
(L-R) Neel, Rupam and Allan

Why did you feel the need to say things on a solo album, away from your band Fossils?

The drive to do a solo album has to come from within. It is entirely a solo thing and is difficult since you do not get the help of your musician friends with whom you are used to working. But last year we came out with a Fossils album so this year I decided to concentrate on some songs on which I had been working for a long time.

Scratch versions of Na hanyate, Laal golaap, Bhyapsha blues, Kishori, Kokhono e pothe, Rockbaaj were all recorded much earlier. None of these songs would go with the Fossils sound. The only song that could have been in a Fossils album is Bedwetter, but in this album we have treated Bedwetter in a completely different way.

Why do you call it Na Hanyate?

The album is called Na Hanyate, which is part of a quote from the Gita: ‘Ajo nityah sasvato yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sharire.’ It means ‘the body may die but the soul is eternal’. In my song I have written ‘Bhalobasha na hanyate’, I meant love, as a very essential and basic part of the consciousness, is eternal.

The album contains a total of eight tracks written over a span of 15 years. Bedwetter is the newest track, written around April-May. All the songs are written about real incidents of my life. So the theme again is me, my life.

Who are you teaming up with on this album?

The producer duo, the Two Little Indians (TLI) as they call themselves — Neel Adhikari and Allan Ao — are producing this album and will be presented by SaReGaMa. My first solo album was also with HMV.

Neel and Allan are established names in the Calcutta music circuit. Why did you choose to work with them?

I arranged some versions of the songs myself, and some others with Indra (Indrajit Dey). Then I got in touch with Allan to play the guitar. He heard the songs and liked them so much that he thought he could do more than just play the guitar. I have full faith in Allan’s musicality and knew how well we got along during our Fossils days. He suggested that we bring in Neel.

Neel and Allan come from a very different genre of music….

These songs needed musicians from a different genre. About the experience I can only say that Allan and I interact on a personal level. He has the power, energy and speed to match my creative flow, thus challenging me to perform better. After this album I have found a great friend in Neel as well.

How different is the album from the Fossils sound?

It bears a more personal feel. Fossils albums are big in terms of grandeur, like a full-length feature film. It took us one year to make Fossils 3. This is more a one-to-one interaction with the listener.

Any thoughts on shifting base away from Calcutta?

No, and it’s not just for Fossils. I have built my own production studio — Working Class Zero — and it is one of the best-equipped studios in town where I have completed this solo album here — recording, mixing and mastering. My sound engineer Pom (Prasenjit Chakrabutty) has done a wonderful job. So I am quite clear that I want to do most of my work from here, even if it is for Bollywood.

What else is on your playlist?

I have been working on an album with the street children, alongside Lions Club and Kolkata Sukriti Foundation, for quite some time now. I had to complete the solo album and now I shall resume my work on that. That album’s called Condition Free.

Neel and Allan on the Na Hanyate experience

Musicians turning producers is a healthy thing for the music industry…

Neel: I have produced a few albums with my cousin Miti Adhikari under the banner of MANA before. And Allan has produced for a few bands in the local circuit. But this was the first time we produced an album together, apart from our own songs (Five Little Indians) and jingles and commercials. This was a great experience because of the flow of energy and the way our sensibilities and musical philosophies matched.

Your take on Rupam...

Neel: He is a brilliant songwriter. And a very well trained singer, which he camouflages superbly with his delivery and style. His drive, sincerity, work ethic and energy towards his art had us floored and inspired us to do more. A true artiste.

Allan, you were associated with Fossils way back in 2001. Did that help on this album?

Allan: We have been trying to work together for the last 10 years but the opportunity never came till Na Hanyate happened. Rupam is one person who brings out the best in me. Despite all the years, we still share superb chemistry and the album’s sound, though very personal and experimental, has the vibe of the first Fossils album.

What did the two of you bring to the table?

Neel: When you produce for a band, the role is more in terms of guidance and arrangement, apart from the recording process. But when you produce for a solo artiste you have to get your hands dirty in terms of playing and singing and creating musical parts to lift the song.

What are your expectations from this album?

Allan: We are thoroughly satisfied with Na Hanyate. We have no expectations but just hope the listeners enjoy listening to the songs, as much as we have enjoyed making them.

Rupam Islam’s second solo album Na Hanyate will be launched at The Basement of Hotel Samilton (35A Sarat Bose Road) on October 11, at 6pm. Rupam along with Allan and Neel shall perform

Madhuparna Das
Is Rupam the greatest songwriter-singer in Bengal? Tell t2@abpmail.com

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