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“We Want to Preserve Our Folk Songs and Native Language ‘Kok Borok’ Through Our Music” – Meet Folk-Fusion Band KOLOMA from Tripura

With the ever-growing number of genres we listen to these days, folk music may be fading into oblivion. So today, we are pleased to feature KOLOMA – a 5 member band from Tripura who is striving to keep their traditional folk music alive. They write songs in their local tribal language ‘Kokborok’ and hope to preserve and pass on their culture to future generations.

As a band, Ronel, Kiyok, Shimul, Rumio, and Bhaskar write songs about love, inspiration, life and struggles, in “Kok Borok” – the native language of the indigenous people in Tripura. Read on to know everything about KOLOMA – the band, their story and what they aim to achieve through their music.

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Band KOLOMA from Tripura

  • Please introduce yourselves, and tell us how you guys came together to form KOLOMA. Also, what does “KOLOMA” mean?

“KOLOMA” is a word derived from a former script in the tribal Kokborok language. We are a 5 member Folk-Fusion band based in Tripura. Our compositions are mostly about contemporary life and romance.

Rumio Debbarma is the lead vocalist, composer, lyricist and plays the folk instruments in the band. He also enjoys videography and video editing. Bhaskar Debbarma is the guitarist, Kiyok Debbarma is the bassist and sessions arranger and Shimul Debbarma plays drums and percussion. Ronel Debbarma plays guitar and sings backup and is also a computer engineer and cybersecurity enthusiast.

  • Rumio “Hi Rumio here, I am the vocalist, composer and folk instrument player of the band. I also do some lyrics for the band. Apart from music I am also into videography and editing.
  • Bhaskar “Hi! its Baku (Bhaskar) here I am the guitarist of the band
  • Shimul  “I am Shimul, on drums and percussion in the band. Also an undergrad Law student. I was introduced to the band by our vox Rumio, and had been part of the band from its very inception Talking about the members, its pretty great and wonderful experience would say, in Koloma each and every member has different tastes of music and different knowledge of different genres which makes it a “fusion” as we call us.
  • Ronel  “My name is Ronel, I play the guitar and do backing vocals in KOLOMA. I am a Computer Engineer and cybersecurity enthusiast.”
  • Kiyok  “Its Kiyok here, the bassist and session arranger of the band”

KOLOMA Band Members (L-R): Ronel, Kiyok, Shimul, Rumio and Bhaskar

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KOLOMA (L-R): Ronel, Kiyok, Shimul, Rumio and Bhaskar

  • “How did folk music come into the picture for you at a time when other genres are dominating the music culture?

Rumio: I don’t have much knowledge about music but I know that I love it. Music is a very powerful element and not only can it move you but it can also change the entire society in a positive way – this is the reason we choose to do this. I never planned on becoming a singer – it was accidental but then again, nothing is an accident, which makes me think it’s all aligned.

Seeing how our traditional folk culture is dying among the current and younger generations, I wanted to preserve it by writing songs that blend our traditional style with modern genres. We started making our own blend of folk fusion music to grasp their interest. I have also always been very inspired by the local legend Bikash Rai Debbarma.

“I started this fusion band so that we could make music using our old folk styles and traditional instruments – music that would represent my identity as well as that of my state’s. I was very also inspired by ‘Coke Studio'”

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KOLOMA and friends from Sufiyum, a folk band from Sikkim.

  • How have your roots influenced your music and songwriting?

Rumio: My parents work in the cultural field and most of our lyrics are written by my mother. So I would say that my roots and upbringing are a huge influence on my music and songwriting. Our songs are mostly about the beauty of nature, different seasons here in the hills, our rich, but almost forgotten culture and our lifestyle.

We all grew up listening to stories and folk songs but we often forget all about it as adults. I was always very rooted in folk music – It makes me feel at home when I listen to it and for me, this was a voice that I could use and express. Our songs are mostly about the beauty of nature, about different seasons, about our rich culture, and our way of life – all told in our local language “Kok Borok”

  • What do you hope people take away from your music?

We hope that people continue to take away the essence and importance of life, positivity, romance and the beautiful Tripuri folk tunes through our music. We want them to feel the beauty of Tripura along with the contradicting picture of struggles through our music. We hope they appreciate and help us keep our folk music alive.

“When they see us perform we want them to go home, listen to our recordings and share our music with their friends. We also want to encourage the younger generations to learn folk instruments like Sarinda (Violin like instrument), Chongpreng (string instrument like guitar), flute etc and start exploring them. “

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KOLOMA jamming with other artists at Ziro Festival, Arunachal Pradesh.

  • What made you want to write your songs in Kokborok and how have people been receiving it so far?

Bhaskar: Kokborok is our mother tongue and there is no other language that would allow us the freedom to express as much as we would like. As a band, it’s our main motive to preserve folk music for the younger generations. Thus, using it was another way to save a language that is fading away as the generations are progressing.

“Since our band started in 2014, we have been able to play in many cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati etc besides our home state, Tripura. We played at Ziro Festival of music in 2016 and 2017 and did the background music for a Kokborok movie.  Even though we are still growing and learning in the process, people have slowly started appreciating this genre of music more. Besides, I don’t think we have to understand the lyrics to enjoy music – that is the beauty of music… It has no boundaries.”

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KOLOMA performing at Ziro Festival, Arunachal Pradesh.

  • Tell us about your latest song.

We released a song called  “Nwngbai Malama” feat. Sourabhee Debbarma which features on our full-length album which we will be releasing soon. It’s a romantic duet with folk elements. It’s about how two lovers who have very little time to meet each other, have to say goodbye. The song talks about things they could not do or share and their promises to meet again.

Listen to  “Nwngbai Malaima” by KOLOMA ft Sourabhee Debbarma (Winner of Indian Idol 4 ). Follow these rising stars on Instagram and subscribe to their Youtube channel to watch their videos and hear their music.

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