January Edition, Music, Net Bureau, Nayanjyoti Medhi
Meet Summersalt, the folk fusioners from Shillong of Rock On 2 fame, currently taking India by a storm. Mainstays of the traditional scene in the music capital of Northeast India, the six piece act is making the nation sway to the tunes of Khasi folk infused with elements of rock. Northeast Today caught up with the band for an exclusive interview. Excerpts:
NET: Why Summersalt?
Summersalt: Salt is a concept, salt is a preservative, salt adds taste. At a time where the culture of trust and values are dwindling, we hope to make the difference. We became Summersalt. On calling ourselves ‘Summersalt’, seriously, it doesn’t need to mean anything, but since you asked – It is a fun word, easy to pronounce and sticks there to your tongue once you say it. As a juxtaposition of two words, ‘Summer’ being the vibrant season and ‘Salt’ being a preservative, usually the minor ingredient but the most important.
NET: How was the band formed? Tell us about the band members.
Summersalt: When we first got together we never played an instrument. Back in 2006 we started talking about what we wanted to do musically and were basically a focus group more than a band. Then as we integrated our minds into similar thought processes we began picking up instruments. Kit is the songwriter, Ador brings the traditional nuances through the duitara and he’s also the keyboardist, Pynsuk is another mainstay vocal of Summersalt, Greg completes the band with his intelligent guitaring, Weet takes care of the rhythm section on drums and Nah plays the bass guitar.
NET: Take us through the band’s music. What drives and inspires you?
Summersalt: It is folk-fusion all the way and because all of us had had our fair share of opportunities to play different genres – it all worked well. But then all of us had to mutually agree to follow certain parameters for the band, there has to be one sound overarching all those influences – that’s the sound that emanates from the Khasi way of life, which we believe, is the music that sits restless on the laps of these beautiful hills.
Anything with a purpose can drive us, it comes out in the form of humour, sarcasm, challenge, care, family bonds, trees, food, traditional culture, village life – you name it. But the huge inspiration comes from the Music itself and the source of it all, as we believe, it is the creation of the master Creator. We believe in God and we believe that true inspiration comes from him, the enabler who stays close by.
NET: Tell us about your debut album. How has the journey been?
Summersalt: The album has received a lot of good and intelligent reviews and we have sold a good number of copies too. We are generally very happy about the way things are going with it. The album actually took a little over three years in the making from writing, recording, mix and master to the conceptualization of the artwork and the music videos. It has been a long, tiresome but fulfilling journey and we have been lucky to work with everybody who has given their time and input on making this album happen. We hope that this is just the first of many to come.
NET: Rock On 2 has catapulted you into the realm of mainstream Indian music. How was the experience? Is the music of Northeast being finally recognised?
Summersalt: Rock On 2 was a thing of beauty, we were very grateful to Shankar Ehsaan Loy and the whole production team for letting us record our song as part of the film and their album as well. To be the first Khasi vernacular custodians in the Bollywood circuit made us immensely proud of our roots and just re emphasizes our wishes to take music from the hills to a greater audience. India’s northeast is fast becoming a hub for creative musical influence and besides Bollywood there has been many independent efforts as well to tap the music from these parts. We stand to believe that the Northeast is finally being recognized but we sure still have a long way to go to simply just arrive at a satisfactory level, let alone thrive.
NET: A career in music in the Northeast is pretty hard. While there are scopes for local artists, most upcoming bands complain the lack of opportunities. What are your views?
Summersalt: The opportunities are few and a lot of artists do suffer. We still need a lot of event promoters and corporate entities that would encourage musicians. We are yet to have a full fledged record company or a booking agency or an event management firm even though there have been numerous efforts to attempt this. There has to be a more holistic approach from everyone, right from the musicians to promoters themselves for us to sustain a system that supports artists.
NET: What are your plans for the future?
Summersalt: We are looking at touring and promote the album all over the country and also to work on the second album. We have a few songs locked up in the vault and might hit the recording studio in the following year. We have got a few big commitments which we have undertaken but can’t disclose as yet. All in all you are sure to get see a lot of Summersalt activity in the future.