Interview: Ronid Chingangbam, Imphal Talkies / Manipur
Ronid Chingangbam of Manipuri band Imphal Talkies speaks with IndiEarth:
IndiEarth: Big Hello From IndiEarth! How did Imphal Talkies happen?
Ronid: It happened when I got my Phd. Scholarship money in 2008, I already had many songs that I composed over the years and I was so restless to record them. When I got the money all I could think of was to record my songs with an old guitarist friend Sachidananda Angom. My sister Riki too is also part of the band, and we called ourselves Imphal Talkies.
IndiEarth: How is life as a travelling musician? Which countries do you tour?
Ronid: I hardly travel. I have never performed anywhere except India, yes sometimes here in Thailand I perform in a very casual way in the University I live in.
IndiEarth: Are you trained in music? How was the music scene growing up in Manipur?
Ronid: I am not a trained musician. I hardly had friends when I was doing my BSc, thats the times I started learning guitar on my own from a borrowed guitar. Later my father bought me a guitar on my birthday as surprise gift. Since then I have been writing and singing my own songs. I may not be the right person to talk about Manipuri music scene as I am not based there. But as far as I know, lot of things are happening in the music scene back home. There are gigs happening and many new event management organisation are being formed to promote our own musicians/bands, which was all we needed back then.
IndiEarth: Qutub Minar song – concept and idea… What’s the message behind?
Ronid: This was written as a poem in 2009 and it is anti Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958. What AFSPA does to people like us is that it only makes us mourn and cry for the one we lost. Here in the song/poem I wanted to mock at this very Act, that’s why I had written this song. And moreover, I want people to feel what does it mean to lose someone who was so close to you, I wanted Delhi to feel that emotion when the protagonist in the song rips Qutub Minar and takes it away all the way to Imphal.
IndiEarth: How deep is your songwriting influenced by the political and social issues of the North East?
Ronid: My song writings are very deeply influenced by current social issues in NE. Maybe if I was not from there, I would have never been a musician, that’s quite possible. Look at the current situation in India with NE People. It is saddening. Where do we go now? We came to other parts of India to work, to study, to earn our livelihood as back home it is underdeveloped in every way and above that all, the presence of Indian armies and their atrocities in the name of fighting insurgency. I don’t think they are fighting insurgency, since their presence the number of insurgency outfits has increased.
IndiEarth: Do you have any other projects or bands? Your forthcoming projects?
Ronid: I have worked on a song called Eche (Sister) with Rahul Ram (of Indian Ocean) which was earlier released as a single by Imphal Talkies in 2010 November. The song will be again released by Rahul with some other songs which he is working on. And I will be recoding Imphal Talkies’ second album in November 2012. Apart from that, I am looking for a producer who is interested in a Manipuri folk rock opera which I have been working on for last four years.
IndiEarth: Your message to indie music followers world-wide?
Ronid: Support musicians. Learn to pay them. We musicians put so much of time, effort and labour in every piece of music we produce. Please respect that.