Interview: Tete-a-tete with popular Bangla Band Kaya; New music album Folkism, Future of Bangla Bands and more (WBRi Exclusive)

By Jyoti Prakash Mandal / WBRINN

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Kolkata, August 30 (Washington Bangla Radio): Kaya, one of the leading Bengali Bands of Kolkata is going to launch their latest album ‘Folkism’. On the eve of their release the Band members opened their heart out exclusively to WBRi correspondent Jyoti Prakash Mandal about the upcoming album, audience, position of Bengali music, reception of folk music in present time and other things. Excerpts :

WBRi: How the idea of such an album originated?

Band Kaya:  We mainly work on Folk Music. We like to listen to different kind of folk music and compose folk songs as well. We are actually a folk fusion band. We come out with an album almost every alternative year. There were some songs which we used to perform on a regular basis. Though they were never a part of any album, they gained immense popularity. So we decided to form an album with those songs. That is how this album happened.

WBRi: Why Kaya works primarily on Folk Music?

Band Kaya: Folk music is such a subject which has a mass appeal. Around the world Folk music is meant for common people. The contents are meant for people of grass root level. That is why it is known as ‘Lok Geeti’. We can say that Folk has created a domain in the world of music beside other poplar genres of music like rock, pop and jazz. So it’s always great to work on folk music as it can connect to the masses.

WBRi:  Tell us about the contents of the album Folkism.

Band Kaya: This album has the songs of Anghuman and Amol Pal. We have worked on various types of Bengali folk Music. The album also has the songs of Baul Das and Krityanangya folk. We have also tried to keep a bit of Alamiya touch. There is a song named ‘Se jano amar Kunj e ashe na’ which is a Kritya Nanga folk. Every song has been treated very specially in the album.

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WBRi: What is factor that you are expecting will make this album stand out?

Band Kaya: The most interesting thing about the album is that the folk songs have been kept intact and no alterations have been made in those songs.  The music arrangements have been made in an innovative way and the songs have been given a new sound cape which is closer to contemporary music. With the kind of music that the album has, it will appeal to the new generation.  The arrangements have been made keeping in mind the brand of Band Kaya. Some experiments have also been done. Drums have been used along with traditional musical instruments like Ektara, Khol and Khamak. Many other sounds have been used to give the songs a modern flavor. We hope that the audience will like this combination which will retain the original flavors of folk song as well as will provide the songs a new makeover.

WBRi: How challenging was it to come with such an album?

Band Kaya:  In this album every element whether it’s the vocal, or drums or ektara retains their own originality. None of them has been distorted and the sound is almost unplugged and is in acoustic version. They together combine to form a different and new sound effect. The main challenge lied in the blending of different music instruments without hampering their individual purity. For example a drum is playing simultaneously with a Khol. The Khol is playing in its own pattern and not seeking to play the pattern of drum and neither vice versa. To blend in the two instruments of two different poles is the most difficult part. But we always like to take such challenges. We also learn while experimenting with such combinations. We sometimes find that the blend is not appealing at all. Then we again start to compose the music and try different combinations. And this thing continues forever.

WBRi:  How much do you think this album will appeal to the listeners and to what kind of audience it will appeal most?

Band Kaya: For us the audience is same from Burningham to Barasat. Everywhere listeners enjoy good music. Listeners like to listen to good music in any part of the world. If even they don’t understand the language, the will love the songs of the music. So we were quite confident about the songs as they have been appreciated wherever we performed them. We hope that the album will appeal to the music lovers all over the world.

WBRi: How Kaya sees the position of Bengali Band in the scenario of World Music?

Band Kaya: Bengali Bands are no more restricted to Bengal only. They are being invited from around the world. Whether it is the U.S.A, Canada, Australia or any other part of the world, there is a huge demand of Bengali bands. They are performing everywhere with élan and the shows are getting labeled as big hits. We have found that people in the U.K. are enquiring about upcoming albums and the sources from where they can collect those songs. Some guys in Australia wanted us to perform some songs of their request. So we can say that the position of Bengali Bands is far ahead of the time when Bengali Band came into existence, i.e. in the days of ‘Mohiner Ghoraguli’ (officially the first Bengali Band). New bands are coming into the scenario and they are adding their new innovations in music and the domain of Bengali Band is getting larger every day. Another good thing happening to Bengali band is that they are being extensively used in Bengali films and television serials.

WBRi:  Often Folk Music is regarded as an Old form of music and is rejected by the new generation of audience. What is the view of Band Kaya on this?

Band Kaya: The culture which is being carried with us till now cannot be considered backdated. We think that there is misperception about folk music. Folk does not only bean ‘Kirtyan’ or only ‘Bengali’ film. So folk does not only comprise of sad songs. Many music channels are showing that what can be done with folk around the world with innovative music arrangements. And for those who reject folk music thinking it to be backdated we can offer our songs.  We are trying to present folk to them wrapped in contemporary sounds cape that the young generation loves to listen.

WBRi: With which segment of audience will this album be most popular? Will it be accepted by the global audience?

Band Kaya: This album will mostly be accepted by Bengali speaking community as the songs have been sung in Bengali language. Apart from this we have considerable Non-Bengali fans and followers in other part of India and also around the world. They are contacting us through social media and emails enquiring about our upcoming albums. They are quite interested in our music and surely they would love to listen to our music.

WBRi: Kaya has performed in United states quite a few times? Please share some experience of performing there.

Band Kaya: We first went to U.S.A in the year 2007 and performed in nine shows. Then we went there in the year 2010 and performed in seven shows. We have been again invited to perform there this year and are planning to visit the United States again. If the audience there would not have liked us we would not be invited to perform there again and again.

We have got a good number of fans and they keep in touch with us regularly through phone and internet. We got shocked when we went there for the first time. It was literally a shock. We generally perform those songs which are more popular. But to our astonishment request for those songs came up which we had rarely performed on stage thinking that they might not be too popular. We even had no preparation to perform those songs though they were all our own songs. This showed how deep they know about us. We were actually not aware that the audience in that far off country was actually aware of our existence or not. We were pleasantly shocked when we got such kind of reception in the United States.

In another case an American lady kept weeping after listening to the tunes of our flute. She even came up to the stage to wish us though she doesn’t know a word of Bengali. Touching audience in this way through our music is our greatest achievement.

We have seen that many top night clubs in American Countries having some hours dedicated to ‘Bhangra’ Session. We all know that Bhangra is a popular Punjabi Folk. So as Indians we feel that this is an achievement. We also want Bengali bands achieving that feat and we would desperately like to see a session dedicated to Bengali band Music at those Night clubs. If we can make it possible it will be a dream come true.

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