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Ziro Music Festival Special | A Chat With Takar Nabam, A Self Taught Musician From Itanagar Who Is All Set To Rock The ZFM Stage

For Takar Nabam, a musician from Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, music has been his best friend since he’s spent his school years away from home. He picked up the guitar, taught himself some tasty chops and mastered the main techniques and skills on stage at his school events. He’s now moved back home to help his parents, spend some time reconnecting with his roots, and is currently preparing to grace the stage at Ziro Festival of Music this year!

Ziro Festival is one of the most talked about outdoor music festivals in India! Started in 2012, this four-day festival is now in its 7th edition. With music and performances by bands and talented musicians from all over the country and abroad, this festival is one that has to be experienced at least once for any travel, music or festival junkie. You can check out our coverage of  Ziro Festival of Music 2017 and 2016

Today, we chat with musician, guitar player, singer-songwriter and performer, Takar Nabam as he prepares to perform with his band at Ziro Festival of Music. Read on to know more about his life, how he has honed his amazing talent, and how all of that has inspired his music and songwriting.

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Takar Nabam is a musician, guitar player and singer-songwriter from Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh.

  • Hello Takar! So good to have you here with us! Tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you’ve been up to.

Hi, my name is Takar Nabam and I’m currently based in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh. I’m a guitar player and singer-songwriter. I’m currently working on new music and getting some dates down to play the rounds in the upcoming festival and gig season. I moved back to Itanagar from Delhi this year, and I’m finally getting to spend enough time with my family. I’m trying to help them with their work in whatever little way I can, whilst working on my music.

I have released two albums till now. My first one, ‘Same Sky’, was released in early 2016. I wrote most of that album on my acoustic guitar with a very minimalistic approach. My second album ‘This Home, That Home’ was released early this year. This one is different from the first in its instrumentation, style and energy… It’s got a lot more rock, soul and indie sounds than my first album.

  • What got you started in music?

I was sent to New Delhi in 1998 to pursue my education. While I was away from home, music became my best friend. It was during my school and college days that I got the opportunity to learn and perform on stage at various music competitions. I was a part of a heavy metal band, called Guillotine – we released our first album ‘The Cynic’ in 2007. We were the runners-up at Hornbill Festival in 2010, and we got the chance to open for Metallica when they toured India in 2011. Those were some of the best times!

Until 2012, I mostly taught myself the basics and techniques of playing guitar. It was after my graduation, that I got to formally study music in a systematic manner where I learned about harmony, rhythm, arrangement and improvisation. During this time, I had started writing my own music and since then, there’s been no looking back.

 

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The high that I get from performing live is something that has constantly been the push factor for me to pursue this full-time which I got to experience very early on, thanks to the exposure and the confidence I got from performing on stage in school and college. It’s one the best feelings to have someone in the audience hum along or sing along while you perform your own songs. It’s moments like these that have constantly pushed me to put out original music, and I do my best to bring out to the best!

“Looking at the practical side of it, I’ve had to explore other territories like teaching, playing sessions, curating, to make enough to sustain myself and pay some of my bills. No matter what I do, I’ll always keep the music by my side. It’s a gift.”

Takar Nabam Trio performing at High Spirits Cafe, Pune.

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Takar Nabam Trio performing at High Spirits Cafe, Pune.

  • How have your roots and upbringing influenced your working style?

For about two decades, I was in Delhi for middle and high school and was mostly away from my family, who were in Arunachal Pradesh. My dad visited me more often than anyone else and through our long talks, he’s taught me to be disciplined, sincere and hardworking. All of this definitely has had a profound effect on the way I work.

“As for my cultural roots, I didn’t get to spend much time with it and now I’m more curious to learn about it than ever. Lately, I have felt the need to preserve my culture through music and it is my goal for the next few years, to make music for songs in our local dialects.”

Takar Nabam exploring his hometown in Arunachal with family and friends

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Takar Nabam exploring his hometown in Arunachal with family and friends

  • What do you do full-time now? If part-time, how do you manage your hobbies and side-projects?

Music was my full-time job until last year. It’s only in 2018 that I moved back home and now I’m trying to juggle between family commitments and music. However, I’m making time to work on my music and I hope I can continue to do so for a long time. I also enjoy swimming, playing badminton, watching movies and reading. To share with you an example of my normal routine these days, I spend my mornings practicing guitar and singing. While I drive around, I do my vocal exercises and also listen to some music. In the evening, I take out some time out for my exercises or for some sport and I like to read when I travel.

Takar Nabam with his books and pen, jotting lyrics to his next tune.

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Takar Nabam with his books and pen, jotting lyrics to his next tune.

  • What’s your creative and work philosophy? Where do you take inspiration from?

I’m more of a go-with-the-flow kind of person… But I never lose sight of the main vision. When it comes to doing something I love, I give all my heart and soul to it. I admire people who work hard and get where they want to be. One of the best examples for me is my Dad. He came from nothing and has done so much that I can never imagine doing myself.

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

“If anyone can connect with my songs, either the music or the lyrics, I consider my job as a composer and songwriter, done. Through my songs, I tell my stories as honestly as I can. People shouldn’t be afraid of failures, falling in love, moving forward and fighting every obstacle in the best possible way they can. Music transcends all boundaries, and it is probably one of the best antidotes for any kind of negativity within and outside.”

Takar Nabam and Andrea Tariang performing at Tango, Shillong.

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Takar Nabam and Andrea Tariang performing at Tango, Shillong.

 

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  • Tell us about your latest work. Is there a song or an album that we can look forward to from you?

I have recently released my second album ‘This Home, That home’, a 31 minute long, 7 track album. It is a major shift from what I did on my first album ‘Same Sky’. The songs are edgier and more energetic.

I have also been writing some new tunes, two of which are ready, and I’m super thrilled to play them live soon! Sonically, it is more in line with my latest album. I’ve already started thinking about my next album or EP. It will materialize by next year, I guess. So stay tuned!

Takar Nabam at the launch of his second album, ‘This Home, That Home’

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Takar Nabam at the launch of his second album, ‘This Home, That Home’

  • We know you’re playing at Ziro Festival in your hometown, this year! What can we look forward to from your set?

Yes, I’m very excited to be playing at ZFM this year! I’m also really happy to represent my state. I’ll be performing with my trio, TAKAR NABAM TRIO with Aveleon Vaz on drums and Steve Peter, on bass guitar, who are great musicians and my friends from New Delhi… I’ll be on vocals and guitar. We’ll be playing an energetic and fun set, with songs mainly from the new album, a few from the first album and the two new songs.

  • When are you performing at ZFM – date and time of your set please!

Our performance is on 28th September, which is Friday, at 6 to 6:45 pm. Be there!

Takar Nabam and his band performing at the Unwind Center in Chennai.

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Takar Nabam performing for his fans.

  • Is there anything that stands out and is different from playing and performing in the city versus in the Northeast?

I feel the people in the Northeast, though all attentive listeners, ask for covers more often than the audience in the cities. I was asked to play ‘Hotel California’ in three cities on my Northeastern Tour! Don’t get me wrong, it’s a classic and I love it, but it has been played at least a gazillion times!

I’ve noticed that people in cities, especially in bars and venues, have short attention spans, with their glasses clinking ever so often and their voices so loud, they can sometimes drown out the music! Fortunately, that hasn’t always been the case with me and I’ve performed both, in cities and in the Northeast with very attentive audiences who love listening to originals. In fact, at one of my gigs in Delhi, a person walked up to me and expressed his joy for not having to hear another cover band.

“I’m happy to see that a lot of the artists in the Northeast are putting out original music because that’s what we really need for ‘the scene’ to flourish!”

Takar Nabam and Carolina Norbu performing at Itanagar.

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Takar Nabam and Carolina Norbu performing at Itanagar.

  • Any other details about your side projects or passions you would like to share with us.

I was working on a small initiative called  ‘Sunset Sessions AP’, which is an in-house concert session. The idea behind this is to help the local artists and potential listeners to connect together. Our first edition was on the 8th September and it went quite well. I’m looking at doing this again in October and onwards. So stay tuned for news on that too!

To know more about Takar Nabam and to listen to his music, visit his Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Soundcloud pages and check him out on his personal Website

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Photo: Takar Nabam.

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