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Soulmate: Music and Dreams

By Kriti Gupta | July 2, 2008

Split Magazine: Soulmate

Soulmate is perhaps one of the most sought-after bands in the country today. With international performances and a new album coming up soon, this band seems unstoppable. We sat down with front man and guitarist Rudy Wallang to capture his journey of keeping the music and dreams alive.

Let’s start at the beginning. How did Soulmate come together? How did you guys meet?

I was recording a gospel album for a local producer in my home studio, when Tips (Tipriti Kharbangar, Soulmate singer) came in to record a couple of songs for the album. She blew me away with her energy and raw powerful/beautiful voice! That’s how we met. I asked her if she would like to sing backup for Mojo (the band I was in at the time). She agreed and we played about three to four gigs together. By that time, Mojo was already together for nine years. The band split up in 2002, if I remember correctly, and a few months after that, Soulmate came into existence!

You were a part of several bands prior to Soulmate. How did the teachings from those bands shape you as the musician you are today? How does that contribute to the bluesy sound of Soulmate?

Yeah, I was with Jerk (1980), the Rubber Band, Electric Head (don’t ask me why it was named so :)), the Great Society, Tom, Dick and Harry, Mojo. The first couple of bands were college setups. ‘Twas when Lou Majaw invited me to play bass for the Great Society that I got my first taste of the real thing. Was with Great Society for around 12 years. Learnt a lot from Lou and A. J. and (late) Bert Cooper. The Great Society was a blues-rock band. Also played some reggae and recorded two albums with them. Also wrote and co-wrote a few songs with Lou. Was with Tom, Dick and Harry for a few months… here too we played a mix of blues, rock, rock ‘n’ roll and reggae. Then came Mojo. Mojo was when I really got into writing our own songs with Bob M. Recorded one album together, [titled] ‘Blues For Brotherhood’ in 1995. We played the blues as well as reggae. Bob Marley was always an inspiration. When Soulmate was formed, the blues roots were already there.

Being from Shillong, how does your music represent the northeastern experience?

When I was younger, in college, I used to enjoy recording and putting music together for my friends, especially the girls. I would get two cassette players together and record from one to the other.

The blues is about life as we know it — ups and downs, celebrating the highs and lamenting the lows. The northeast has been going through a lot of ups and downs and Shillong has had its share of troubles! But the main thing is that MUSIC, all over the northeast, plays a very important role. All tribals have music in their blood, and being predominantly Christian, a lot of the western music culture started with the missionaries and the hymns that they taught our forefathers and mothers. Also, Shillong was the summer home for a lot of the British tea-planters from Assam. They would come up to Shillong to escape the Assam summer heat and they brought with them other forms of western music which explains why Shillong and parts of the northeast have a strong western music background.

What do you think of the quality of blues music being produced by Indian bands and musicians?

Honestly, I haven’t heard other Indian blues bands except for the Saturday Night Blues Band from Kolkata and the Beat Root Blues Band from Mumbai. They’re alright. The truth is that you can’t fake the blues. Like someone said — either you’ve got it or you don’t.

What has been your biggest faux pas during a live performance so far?

Not one instance that comes to mind right now. :)

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?

DEAD! (Laughs) Hmm… let me see, maybe a welder. I learned welding in Don Bosco’s here in Shillong. Maybe I would be making gates and whatever for people. Some of my work is in and around Shillong. Driving ‘round town sometimes I tell Tips — “… you see that grill work on that building? I helped make that!” Feels good, but don’t ask me to weld anything now. Been a long time and things might turn out weird!

You started your own recording studio. How has that experience been thus far?

My studio was started in 1998. When I was younger, in college, I used to enjoy recording and putting music together for my friends, especially the girls. :) I would get two cassette players together and record from one to the other. Also, if I didn’t have anyone to jam with, I would record a rhythm guitar track on one tape and then play it back and play my guitar to that — was fun and I had always dreamed of having my own studio, so here I am, living my dreams.

What is your favourite —
 
Colour: I love all colours!

Sound: Birds singing in the morning. At times, the sound of silence is beautiful!

Smell: Food. I love the smell of bamboo shoot, fermented soya beans, smoked pork and beef… hmmmm! I love the scent of a woman. The smell of fresh green grass after the rains and that beautiful stinky smell of a burnin’ blues guitar solo!

Split Magazine: SoulmateRecord: Too many to name, really! Ok… off the bat, ‘Street Survivors’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Concert you played at: Eastwind Festival 2008, The [June] 14th gig at Blue Frog, Mumbai, and quite a few kick-ass gigs at the Haze in Delhi.

Band: Again, too many good bands.

Genre: Blues, of course. Rock ‘n’ roll, blues-rock, reggae, jazz.

Instrument: Guitar, bass, drums.

Soulmate song: “The Blues Is My Soulmate”.

Ok, time for some of your ‘lasts’ —

[1] When was the last time you got drunk?
Not drunk, but nice and high. :) A couple of days ago with my buddy Dan. Picked up a bottle of fenny, and well, we got ‘fennied!

[2] When was the last time you dabbled in suspicious substances?
When I stepped into something the other night. Thankfully turned out to be mud!

[3] Which was the last cassette/CD you purchased?
Jimmie Vaughan’s latest solo album and another one by Otis Rush and Albert King.

[4] Who was the last rock star you shook hands with?
Don’t know about rock stars but have been meeting a lot of ‘Rogue Stars’ ‘round the place. :)

[5] When was the last time that you signed an autograph?
A couple of weeks ago at Blue Frog.

What can we look forward to from Soulmate in the future?

A brand new album, for sure. I know it’s taken a while — the songs have been ready for a long time now. Just been too busy gigging, I guess. We plan on going into the studio this month, most probably in Mumbai. Also, we are looking forward to playing in places we’ve never really played before — Chennai, Bangalore, Pondicherry, Kerala, Buddy Guy’s Legends, Antone’s in Austin, Europe, southeast Asia — who knows? The dreams keep happening and a lot of them have come true. :)

Any famous last words for our readers?

MORE POWER TO THE BLUES, PEOPLE!

Comments

8 Comments. Post Yours Here.
  1. July 2, 2008, 9:58 pm Aniruddh

    I love this website! And I love this interview. Bloody brilliant!

  2. July 4, 2008, 4:33 pm Vineet

    Saw these guys play live, some kick ass blues stuff there man.

  3. July 5, 2008, 4:40 pm Indrani

    Fantastic interview! And absolutely love these guys live. Looking forward to the new album!

  4. July 16, 2008, 10:32 pm Stinkin' Vagina

    Tiprioti looks stunning but her singing exceeds her looks.

  5. August 19, 2008, 3:36 pm rishabh

    dis is an awesome band
    wth everything in plzce like a pack of cards
    tripriti is gorgeous & her voice is mind blowing
    rock tips rock

  6. November 26, 2009, 11:38 am Sameer

    Ruddy Walang also listens to allot of Robin ‘N’ Looza & Mukti ‘N’ Revival stuff and these two band are from Nepal.

  7. November 26, 2009, 11:46 am Sameer

    This who one is all for those people who think Ruddy Walang is the Greatest Guitarist from Shillong, then I’m sorry to inform you fellows that back in Shillong there are allot many people who are better then him but the only factor they haven’t been able to make it to the mainstream is that they are not educated otherwise had it been the other way round then those one’s would have definitely rock the scenes around.

  8. December 12, 2009, 9:07 pm devraj

    they r the ones who earned the name the rock capital of india,shillong

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