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Sun, 22 Jul 2018

Northeast Today

On a Musical Voyage…

On a Musical Voyage…
August 12
12:53 2017

July Edition, Music, NET Bureau, Tanya Rose Rao

Formed in the month of October in 2014, when some likeminded musical prodigies came together and since then Paperboat has gone on to win hearts galore. In conversation with Northeast Today, speaking on behalf of the band- Rahul Rajkhowa- shares more about the band, its music and the journey so far…

NET: What was the inspiration behind the name Paperboat? Does it symbolize anything?

Rahul: It all started with a competition that we were supposed to compete at IIT, Kanpur. We were supposed to compete as a band, though we had literally formed ourselves only two days prior the event, so choosing a name for the band was the last thing on our mind. The entries were about to close so Paperboat was the quickest name that we could think of.

Our members come from different states and we have united to make people groove and forget their differences. We like to think of ourselves as a band of sailors on a voyage to make people dance and sail into their hearts as gently as possible. Our music has got great vibe and explains the name best.

NET: How did the decision of forming a band arise? Have there been any additions or subtractions over the years?

Rahul: I had put together a band to compete at IIT Kanpur and the Delhi University’s college fests. Two days before the event, my band ditched me after I had booked their tickets to Kanpur. So in a matter of two days, I had called a group of my friends and we formed a temporary band. Solomon is originally a break dancer but I convinced him to beat box for the band as we didn’t have a drummer then. Now, he is one of the most respected beat boxers in Delhi. To our delight, we came 1st at IIT Kanpur (again, with only two days of practice) and several other DU competitions that followed.


NET: What genre of music do you prefer to perform? Who are the artists that have inspired your music?

Rahul: When beat boxing meets the blues, and you add a dash of funk and pop to it with just the right pinch of reggae, jazz and hip hop, that’s Paperboat for you. We look up to John Mayer, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, The Weekend and some 70s Blues Artists.

NET: Describe a typical jamming session.

Rahul: Those comprise of a lot of fun. It only takes someone to randomly begin a tune or a beat and we build up on it. Then, I compose lyrics and it transforms into a song. Other times, I lay down a basic acoustic version with lyrics and send it to everyone as a voice note on Whastapp and they come with their parts prepared to the jam studio. We pick and choose. After that, we grab momos and honey chilly fried potatoes at Lajpat Nagar, Delhi.

NET: If you had to pick, what song/songs would you say made you popular?

Rahul: Our originals, Dark Knight (composed against fairness creams) and Paperboat (against objectification of women) did catch a lot of attention. We also composed an old folk/bihu number and gave a modern twist to it, something like what Papondoes. To that, we got a lot of people in college fests doing Bihu steps and going crazy.


NET: Opinion about India’s current music scene and NE. Any Indian artists that you look up to?

Rahul: In my opinion, the scene here is changing, though very slowly. The only reason why Indian artists (performing Indie, especially) aren’t getting nominated for MTV, Grammy or Billboard awards is because they aren’t receiving the kind of support needed from our people. We are too busy idolizing Western artists, as is the trend. There are remarkable artists here that deserve to be on everyone’s playlists too. All we need to do is show them some love and support, the same way we do to the likes of Ed Sheeran. I promise that there is no stopping them then.

We really like Soulmate from Shillong, Half Step Down, Doppler Effect and Zokova.

NET: Describe the process of song writing.

Rahul: We try to approach with a different perspective. I attempt to give voice to things that are heavy on people’s minds, but find difficult to express. I lay down a guitar part, record it on my phone, listen to it on repeat and finally pen down the lyrics. I can’t write about songs centering love and heartbreak. Our songs address domestic abuse, discrimination, being a third person in a relationship etc.

At the same time, we make efforts to keep our tunes groovy so that our audience finds it attractive and can dance to it. This allows them to take the tune back home with them.

NET: As artists, receiving hate comes with the package. How do you deal with it?

Rahul: Thankfully, people have been real kind to us till now. We have received a lot of love from the people here in Delhi, people up north. There was this a time, though, while we were playing at a Northeastern event in Delhi and a few drunken people landed up and began creating ruckus. Our audience was very cool and they had them removed from the hall in minutes. They were northeastern people.

NET: How does the band see itself in five years?

Rahul: Well, it’s tough to say now, but I promise that we will bring home an MTV award. Our first music video, ‘Hunger’ was aired on VH1 two months ago. It was the first that we filmed which was produced by an All Assamese team, my single, ‘Make you Stay’ being the second.

‘Hunger’ was also voted into the special request show on VH1 twice, so our fan base online is strong, when it comes to voting. We are hopeful that we will be the band that the country can be proud of.

NET: Since all of you are pursuing music along with other things, is it difficult to accommo-date it in your respective schedules?

Rahul: Yes, it does get difficult, honestly. We figure it out somehow, though, to practice before an event. We have a strong musical chemistry so it all works out on stage.

NET: Do any of you perform solo as well?

Rahul: Yes, I do have my solo sets of songs that I upload on You- Tube once in a while. I just released my 3rd Official single ‘Make you Stay’ that aired on VH1 recently. Augustus, our guitarist, has moved to the United States to pursue Music Engineering, so he gets our songs edited, mixed and mastered there.

NET: Tell us something about the recent political rapping that caught the media attention?

Rahul: Honestly, I didn’t even think for once that these videos would catch the attention that it did. TOI, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, Scroll, The Quint covered my rap songs within the week! It was just my way of venting frustration because of certain actions taken by the JNU Vice Chancellor. In my opinion, playing with the future of so many scholars by denying them a chance at further education because of ‘orders’ from the government to reduce the strength of politically educated JNU students was erroneous.

The video went viral because I received a lot of hatred from the RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the BJP. It was ironic because my first song did not target any political party in the first place. I also got a lot of death threats, comments calling me a rape artist and Marxist etc. who should be confined behind bars. All this negativity only worked in my favor, spreading my videos and messages even further. Deciding to use my influence on YouTube, I knew that such a method would be popular among my subscribers and fans. I refuse to be the politically correct artist that attempts to appease all sides.

I will continue to write songs on these issues because it is necessary. Our generation bears the heavy burden of making this country a more tolerant one, and it is time that we start realizing this.

NET: Your favorite venue to perform

Rahul: Some of our favorites are Hard Rock Café, Delhi, NIFT, Delhi, IP College, Delhi, Turquoise Cottage, Adchini. Also we are really looking forward to our EP launch Show at High Spirits, Pune which is one of the most respected and happening venues in the country. Our fans in Pune are really excited for us too! We can’t wait to be there!


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