Never cease to learn | an interview of Jim Ankan Deka by The Statesman

Never cease to learn | The Statesman | SATURDAY, 3 MAY, 2014Meyeinla Longchar spoke to Jim Ankan Deka about his album Aawaz and his formative days as a musician. 
Never cease to learn - The Statesman

AFTER receiving three International Music Video Awards for his heart rending Hindi-Assamese musical album Aawaz and collaborating with artists for years, Jim Ankan Deka is set to become a household name. After releasing the album, he is now envisaging biggerer and better projects. He is humble enough to talk on everything —from the intricacies of melody to his favourite hobby. Despite achieving all that defines a successful artist, he is still a kind and giving soul. Excerpts:

You were a member of the first Assamese rock band, Prahar, and released an album at the age of 15. When did you fist realise you wanted to pursue musk?

- I had never thought of making a career out of music. Even now, I am miles away from commercial music. But I always thought I would continue my musical journey even if I don't bring home the bacon. I started learning different instruments from the age of five and performed with different artists in Assam. I am in this field not to earn money but because I genuinely love it

What was your first composition and how did you go about it?

- Well, I studied at an all-boys school. I composed my first song when I was in Class IX. It was dedicated to a friend's cousin, just to get her attention. My friends loved the song and later it was a part of my first album, Tumi Kowa Kotbabor (Things that you said).

How did the idea of setting up the Eastern Fare Music Foundation come?

- I came to Bangalore in search of a goal in life. I joined different companies for hand-to-mouth survival but always longed for music. One evening, while coming back from work, I heard some guys playing music in their garage. I approached them uninvited. But they were friendly and asked me to join them as a keyboardist. The next day, I quit my job. With the help of one of those band members, I found work as a music teacher. Slowly, I realised that although Bangalore had many music institutes, not all of them provided proper courses in music. Hence, along with a few friends, including my wife, Parmita Borah, we started the Eastern Fare Music Foundation. Today it has four institutes, two studios, a production house, a publishing house and a music club. The organisation also has a philanthropic initiative called Count Your Blessings. The members of this initiative focus mainly on blood donation camps, donation to non-profit organisations, visiting and giving aid to slum areas, senior citizen homes and orphanages. The institute follows the music syllabus of Trinity College, London. The duration of the courses varies from one to eight years. The institute also gives free music education to underprivileged children.

Every artist has an idol. Do you idolise or draw inspiration from someone?

- My first idol was my father, late Bhabananda Deka, who was an economist and a writer. He taught me the Sankari culture of Assam. Then I started learning Borgeet and Khol. My eldest brother, Ankur Deka, who is also a musician, introduced me to Western music. Although I never had a proper guru, I learnt music under many teachers from India and abroad. I still consider myself a student I love listening to Jim Reeves, Conway Twiny, Nirvana, Metallica, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Bhupen Hazarika, Jayanta Hazarika and many more.

What do you do in your free time?

- I fiddle with HyperText Markup Language, websites, Facebook, my laptop, good movies, books and listening to new bands and musicians, especially from India. I don't like to remain idle, which is why people find me busy most of the time. I like photography. I go outdoors and click nature, animals, insects or events whenever I get the time. I work with two international photo agencies too.

Your music video, Aawaz, has earned you maw awards. Tell us something about its concept.

- We first performed the song in protest against the Delhi gang-rape case in Bangalore on 30 December 2012. The public uproar quietened after a month or so. And when more news poured in about abuse and sexual violence against women, we thought of continuing with the project. My wife Parmita, Ritwika Bhattacharya and I penned the lyrics of the song and later two singers, Queen Hazarika and Antara Nancly, joined us. After we recorded the song, my wife came up with the idea of a music video to highlight issues like marital rape, child abuse and sexual violence. Many artists from different parts of India joined us, too.

What's next?

- We are working on few more issues. Will come up with a proper plan soon. As of now, composing music for Antara Nandy's first Assamese song, an English number for my band and my first Assamese music album. I'm also looking forward to starting my journey in making documentaries.

Any word of inspiration for budding musicians?

- It seems that artists today know the right path and ways to make their work popular. I believe in passion, dedication and love. Knowledge is a must in any field. So, one should never stop learning and practicing.
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