Interview with Fringes
Club Muzik's ARTISIA - voice of the stars
Club Muzik / Hueiyen Lanpao*
Collage of performance from Fringes
Fringes is a blues rock band from Manipur who believes in negotiating with the changing cultural reality by experimenting with and improvising on the Western musical form of blues and thereby exploring the possibility of subverting and transforming different social spaces.
Club Muzik: What was you all individually before Fringes?
Fringes: Haraba Ningthoukhongjam (vocalist) -He has toured extensively with the band, Placid Dreams in Manipur. He has also done a few studio recordings including the title track of a tele-film for Doordarshan, North East.
Thingnam Sanjeev (Guitarist) - I have been playing with different bands likeKanglasha(Delhi), Kalpvriksh (Delhi), Imphal Talkies and the Howlers (Delhi) and Fubar Ghetto (Delhi).
Gautam Sorokhaibam (Guitarist) -He started playing guitar at the age of 12 and has played and toured with many bands like Hole of Fame and Placid Dreams. He joined Heavy Water (a Classic Heavy metal band) with whom he worked with for some of their original tracks.
Shankar Sapam (Bass) - Shankar learned guitar from his elder brother and played in inter-state competitions. It was when he moved to Mumbai in 1996 that he further honed his skills as a bass guitarist and keyboardist. Having performed in various festivals of the colleges and universities in Mumbai and Gujarat, he has also participated in Mood indigo IIT (Mumbai) rock competitions from 1996 to 2001. At present he is working as a sound recordist at Shallow River Studios, Imphal.
Sunil Loitongbam (Drummer) - Coming from a highly musical family of Late. L. Menjor Singh, and L. Smt. Sumati Devi of Imphal, Sunil loves to play and tease out challenging grooves on his drums. He has been playing with various bands since 1989. He has played in Mumbai from 1992 till 2000. Has studio experience with Studio Smoke (also known as Ranjit Studios) as an assistant Engineer until the end of 2001. He studied sound recording and reproduction in Mumbai. Since 2003 he has been working with Shallow River Studio, Imphal as a Sound Engineer and Studio Musician. He has worked as Music Director in various jingles, tele-films, digital films and some award winning documentaries. He is currently into enhancing his skills in local folk music of the North-Eastof India.
Some of his major projects are as follows –
1. Challenge – National Award (Documentary)
2. Songs of Mashangva – National Award (Documentary)
3. Real – Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York
4. HOPE – Documentary
5. Eye of an Eye – Short Film
Club Muzik: How is the blues population in the state?
Fringes: Since blues belongs to the sub-cultural domain, the crowd in Manipur is understandably meager but we are catching up and can bank on a stable selective chunk of blues lovers.
Club Muzik: We feel we are flooded with bands these days but the mark to be "the greatest band" seems to be lacking in most. What do you see?
Fringes: As I said genre like blues, rock, metal etc. are the sub-culture of Manipur, the dominant culture are the Manipuri Hindustani music, Traditional folk music and now the modern Manipuri songs usually featured in Manipuri films and private music video album.
I would say that the concept of band started quite early in Manipur, in the late 60s we have had Magnetos, Run Away Tracks (70s). Inspite of having lot of talented musicians, we are lagging behind when compared to our neighboring states like Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya. Besides, the lack of sponsorship and patronage are the contributing factors of not producing ‘the greatest band’ in Manipur. But dedication and hard work are very much required in every band to reach to that level.
Club Muzik: Each of us has our own style of doing things. Tell us few things about each one of you in the band in handling their instruments like tuning, positioning, cleaning, technique, etc.?
Fringes: Haraba as a vocalist he would always prefer to carefully listen to the overall musical production and is very particular about timing. His sense of puttingthings together is quite sharp. As far as my guitar playing is concern I normally follow my heart beat, even if my band members tells me to come to the groove following certain rules, manya times I missed it, so I thought I should follow my instinct better than following rules of engagement. Anyways, saying this I can’t lose the timing because music defines with sound and the time synchronization. Our other guitarist (GautamSorokhaibam @ Falao), he is very particular of his guitar tone work, he would love to gel with different sound of blues. And also his approach to blues is different with me, so we two produce different orientation of blue notes.
Shankar Sapam our bass player he is our techy guy, having had the experience of working in studio for quite sometime, he looks after whether our sound is right or not. He is very accurate in handling things, we have to follow him when he says “stick to the bar”. Then our Drummer Mr. Sunil Loitongbam, born in a family where his parents are both into music, he is a keen observer of what we all do in the band right from the note we strum and the tuning. He is the senior most in the band, so we always look up to him for his directives.
Club Muzik: How much preference do the band gives on physical appearance/looks apart from the music you make?
Fringes: At times, Haraba yell about wearing a cap which we did it during a SangaiFestival in 2012. Apart from that we don’t give too much emphasis on the physical appearance and the look. But, as we are playing blues, we never wear that kind of clothes which can distract our crowds from our subtle music (we prefer formal & descent clothes that suits to our music style). Sometime people called us as “Fringes the Old Boys band” from Manipur. But we feel good that way.
Club Muzik: What is your believe in naming a band? What all did you considered while naming Fringes?
Fringes: While doing research on Frontier historiography of the 19th century of Northeast British India, I found out that there is more continuity than change with what we experienced in the past and the present. The quagmire situation of the present is linked with the historical conception of this space. As also suggestive in its name, Fringes, the band is committed to exploring and articulating issues and conditions of marginality.
The band members belong to a milieu where many cultural imprints could be found, from the traditional musical culture of the region to the wave and onslaught of Hindustani and Western music that came through colonialism and globalization at different phases of the region’s history. How does one receive and live with such a history? The band believes in negotiating with the changing cultural reality by experimenting with and improvising on the Western musical form of blues and thereby exploring the possibility of subverting and transforming different social spaces. In other words, Fringes could also be defined as a band-in-the-making, it looks forward to further exploring and incorporating the moods and sounds of the regional culture in a way that would only enrich and expand its process of experimentation. Through the medium of blues it narrates stories from the region that are told and untold, stories of pain and angst, of love and loss.
Club Muzik: Apart from good music how do you want to entertain your fans?
Fringes: As we know blues has the power of narrating stories through its musical structure, when we narrate our stories which come out from the lived experiences that will certainly touched other people’s heart. And we also believed that art cannot be created in vacuum so whatever we do it will definitely reflects what is happening in and around us.
Club Muzik: What can we look for in the band that doesn't seems as it looks?
Fringes: Well, people might think that blues is imported from the west, so it is not suitable to our culture. But we think that blues is universal.
Club Muzik: Can you share us one thing you all wanted to do in life apart from Fringes?
Fringes: I would like to travel a lot and see the world and learn different culture. Secondly, we would like to groom young artists and create good platform to grow as a qualified musician.
Club Muzik: When do you think a band will or is at the peak of its career?
Fringes: We would like to collaborate with many great artists and do more charitable shows for the conflict victims.
Club Muzik: Suggest some production tips for our budding friends?
Fringes: Well, now a days it’s quite easy to record our master pieces, whenever u strike new ideas you can just record it in any gadgets like mobile phone, computer etc. and from that scratch you can build on a full song.
Club Muzik: Any particular activity together as a band besides Fringes?
Fringes: Involved in Manipur Music Society activities, organizing fest like Nongin Music Festival2013 i.e. a three days music festival where all the musicians and bands with different genres of the State performs and share ideas of different music dialect through their performances.
Club Muzik: Konung-Kang or ISKON-Kang? (Choose only one & answer in one word only)
Fringes: No Comment
All questions are answered by Thingnam Sanjeev for Fringes.
Questions & Revised by
Read an earlier profile of Fringes band @ http://www.e-pao.net/yellout/Fringes/
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* Club Muzik have conducted/produced this interview as part of their "ARTISIA - voice of the stars" and published by Hueiyen Lanpao
Club Muzik can be contacted at clubmuzikevents(at)gmail(dot)com and at fb.com/ClubMuzikEvents
This article was posted on December 06 2014.
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