Musician Jim Ankan Deka's love for the music of his native land has prompted him to take Assamese music to the global stage
Jim had moved to Bangalore from Guwahati to do his Masters in Psychology. After completing his studies, made his foray into the corporate world, but after a series of job changes, he realized that music was his only true calling. He joined a music school and slowly offers started to trickle from the film and television industry of Karnataka.
He started off with a Kannada TV series in 2007 where he arranged the music for four songs. He admits that the language barrier was very much there but working with a director who was free to take inputs from him helped him deliver his best. He also teamed up with Carnatic classical musician and playback singer Suchethan Rangaswamy to form a band called 'Veenar'; they released their first song in Kannada called Eesha Ninna. He recalls, 'That was the first time I actually worked on the fusion music genre. Later, we released a couple of other instrumental tracks combined with the veena and guitar, blending in jazz elements as well'. Now, he rarely finds time to work for others, although he still plays the guitar for Kannada films and albums sometimes.
It was in 2008 that Jim's life radically changed. While chatting with his student Anand Pilakkat one day, the idea of forming his own music school came up and since then there has been no looking back; with ample support from his wife Parmita Borah and Anand himself, Eastern Fare Music Foundation was formed. The school followed the syllabus of Trinity College, London which worked in its favour as the number of students started increasing day-by-day. Later, the trio met more like minded people such as Suchin Ravi, Harish Marappa and Vinod M Singh from Bangalore, Prakash Rajagopalan from Chennai, Victor Logidasan from Sri Lanka, Ashok Singha from Silchar and Girish Sood from Chandigarh who joined the school as music teachers and became part of the vibrant Eastern Fare Music Foundation team.
With time, it got bigger and better and different branches of the school were opened in Bangalore. Now, Eastern Fare has a studio, a practice room and a production house apart from other branches of the institute. In 2013, Eastern Fare collaborated with another music company Music Malt to come up with a music project called the ChaiTunes with an aim to promote the folk music of India as well as Northeast, and provide a platform to unknown but talented musicians. Also, Eastern Fare has been trying to promote Northeast India through its Facebook and Twitter pages as well as a dedicated Northeast portal.
A strong social media presence also has its share in making his music popular among the younger generation. Jim had been a social media specialist for three national and international organisations, and that has without a doubt helped him conned with netizens better. He shares, "This medium is the best possible way to showcase my work. People share almost everything about their daily lives regularly on Facebook or Twitter. I mostly share my creative work. And with almost 1,70,000 fans on my Facebook pages, I can safely say it has been a successful endeavour. When we can afford the technology, why not use it to the fullest?"
'Xaare Aasu' is the latest track by Jim featuring Queen Hazarika, and was released as a music video on Youtube on lst May 2015. On the very same day, it got close to 5000 views and in just 5 days, it had crossed the 15000 views mark. It is going strong and has got a great response; people who have watched the video have appreciated the jazz elements incorporated with Assamese lyrics. The lyrics were based on poems written by Jim's departed parents Prof Bhabananda Deka and poet Nalini Prava Deka. It is the first video under the ChaiTunes project and collaboration between actors and musicians of Assam and Karnataka. This was his second collaboration with Queen Hazarika, the earlier song he had worked with her on was 'Awaaz —Speak Up Against Sexual Violence'.
Jim is now working on a tribute album which would probably be released by the end of this year. His brother Ankur Deka and popular singer Mayukh Hazarika have joined him in this venture. Another song, Niyoror Xur, with Mayukh Hazarika which is again based on the poetry of his parents is currently in progress.
Anil CJ, a noted music producer and director of Kannada films, albums and serials says, "Jim is a very well-known musician in the Northeast and he is well-known in Kannada industry too for his versatility in playing different musical instruments and his strongest zone is when he is playing the guitar. He has collaborated with me in most of my projects and his own projects on women empowerment have been phenomenal."
Hobbies other than music - photography, reading, travelling and watching movies
Favourite song - Many. Specially songs of Bhupen Hazarika, Bob Dylan and Nirvana.
Favorite song from your composition - Amvaz - speak up against sexual violence and Nixobdo Nilim
Favourite band from the Northeast - Many. I love Soulmate from Shillong, Voodoo Child from Guwahati (although I had been a part of that), The Vinyl Records from Arunachal Pradesh and Boomerang among others.