Takar Nabam is a singer songwriter, guitarist based out of Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, India. His music is a mix of pop, rock, jazz, R&B, indie and singer-songwriter. In terms of mood, he thinks his music is dreamy, romantic, nostalgic. The Penguin Rocks presents this interview with Takar Nabam.
Arunachal Pradesh, which is home to more than 26 different tribes and sub tribes, shares it borders with China, Myanmar and Bhutan. Prior to living there, he was in New Delhi for about 2 decades, and was an active part of the Delhi Indie Music Scene there for about a decade. He says he was primarily a guitar player for the most part, and got into songwriting around 2013-14. Since then he's been writing, singing and performing his own music.
He mostly write songs about life and love, but sometimes tries to write about social issues prevalent in Arunachal Pradesh, India, like polygamy, child labour, etc. Although there have been some tremendous improvements in the last few years, he believes there is still a long way to go. Here's a song he wrote in his native dialect, the Nyishi dialect.
He also wrote a song about love, which was beautifully interpreted in the context of a Dog. In this case, Laika, the first dog to be spent to space.
Tell me about your name.
My name Takar means 'star' in the Nyishi dialect of Arunachal Pradesh, India. Not sure if I've even remotely lived up to my name, but I try! I’m a solo Artist and I perform under my name.
How long have you been playing music?
I’ve been playing and making music for a while now. I wrote, recorded and released my first album, Same Sky, in 2016. Ever since that time, I’ve been actively performing and releasing Music here in India. I have had the chance to perform at notable festivals like Ziro Festival, NH7 Weekender, Orange Festival, to name a few.
Do you ever work with other artists?
I usually hire session Artists to play with me. It mostly depends on who is available at that time, but I do prefer working with some with whom I’ve written and performed for a while now. They are Aveleon Vaz (Drums), Steve Peter (Bass), and more recently Ron Cha (Keys/Synth), Toko Teji (Drums), Nisham Pul (Bass).
Tell me about your latest record. What songs are you most proud of on the record?
I think my latest EP, Red and Yellow was quite well received by my fans. For a lot of them, it was something completely different, but yet they appreciated it in terms of composition and production, because it sounded fresh and relevant to the existing time. The EP also incorporated sounds from a Himalayan folk instrument, Dramyin, which took a lot of my fans by surprise as I had never done this before. Even for me as an Artist, it was quite an exciting experiment and I’m glad it turned out quite pleasant! Have a listen to Red and Yellow on Spotify
One of the songs that's closest to my heart is Ashes, which came out of a tragedy that me and my family has gone through, back in 2019, when our house was set on fire by an angry mob. It was one of most turbulent time of my life.
I also worked on a lot of visuals for the EP. One of the Music Videos was dedicated to the first space dog, Laika, and this got the attention of a lot of dog lovers. I’m a dog lover myself.
Watch the video of a Man playing the Dramyin and telling his story.
How many records, eps, or singles has the band put out in total? How has the music changed over time?
I have released 2 albums and en EP so far. I like the idea of evolving myself with time, and I’m always looking for ways to incorporate my newer influences as creatively as I can. You can listen to my discography on Spotify.
What was one of your favorite gigs? What made it memorable?
One of the most memorable gigs for me was Ziro Festival of Music, 2016. This was the first time I was performing my music live in front of such an amazing audience. The best part about the gig was that the love of my life, who was my girl friend at that time, she sent me a romantic letter, which got handed over to me by her close friend, right before I got on stage. It definitely helped quell all that nervousness and made that first performance so much more meaningful! Here’s a short video from that performance (since this was my first performance with my solo project, do pardon me for my sloppy singing!)
Where do you regularly play shows? Where would you like to play if you could?
I’ve mostly played here in India, including some of the most notable festivals, here, like Ziro Festival of Music, NH7 Weekender, Orange Festival, to name a few. I have also been fortunate enough to have played outside of India. I’ve played in Myanmar, Bhutan, and in New York as well. I like to play smaller venues with 50-100 people, as I feel its much easier to build a connection with the people who are there to listen. I would love to play a few bigger venues, too, with my band. Some of the venues that I can think of are Red Rocks, Bowery Ballroom, Wilton's Music Hall, Thalia Hall, Brixton Academy, The Lexington to name a few.
Prior to releasing my latest EP, Red and Yellow, which was very heavily synth and keys driven, I used to perform in a trio setting. It is definitely one of the most challenging, yet a fun setting to play in. Here’s a video from a performance with my trio at Zero Festival Of Music.
What would be the “next step” that you’d like to take?
I’d love to plan a EU and US tour with my band someday. I know it’s kind of a long shot at this point, but I’d be interested to work in the direction to make it happen. In the meantime, I’ll continue to work on writing, releasing and promoting more new music that I’ve been writing. I’d love to explore options for sync placements, collaborations with Artists who I really like, and to perform more shows this year.
Finally, do you play any cover songs. If so, what artists do you cover? Who would be an artist you haven’t covered yet that you’d like to cover?
I usually don’t play covers during my gigs, except on a few rare occasions. I used to cover ‘Who Did You Think I was’ by the John Mayer Trio whenever I used to play with my Trio. I love covering ’Neon’ by John Mayer, especially when I’m playing solo. Here’s my rendition of it.