Taba Chake: 'All My Songs Talk About My Own Personal Experiences'

Taba Chake: 'All My Songs Talk About My Own Personal Experiences'

Musician Taba Chake gives a peek into his art and craft of playing guitar, songwriting, and more

Verus FerreiraUpdated: Saturday, March 16, 2024, 10:51 PM IST
Photo Courtesy: Vh1 Supersonic

From the land of the rising sun Arunachal Pradesh comes Taba Chake, who is known for his eccentric way of playing fingerstyle percussive guitar chops. In 2014, he was awarded the title of runners up in 'All India Finger Style Competition' at Bangalore. Chake comes from a Nyishi tribal family in Arunachal Pradesh. Inspired by tribal folklore and his intimate connection with nature, Chake began writing songs in 2007. Apart from being a guitarist and a song-writer, he is is also known for his unique vocals, performing style, and singing in more than four languages.

Excerpts from the interview:

We understand that your name was Chake and your real name is Taba, but you changed it the other way around and we know you as Taba Chake.

Yes, my name was something else before that. Thanks for asking this question. No one has ever asked me this question before, you are the first one to ask this question. So when I was submitting my paper for the board exam, I went to school and just changed my name. I came home and I told my mom and dad that I've changed my name, I didn't ask anyone. It's just that I didn't like my name because in the hostel and boarding school, everyone used to tease me with that name, that’s why I decided to change it. My name is Chake. Taba is my surname.

Tell you something about your family background and how you got into music.

My parents decided to put me in boarding school, that’s where I got introduced to music. There was this teacher who was teaching us how to play the piano, so I started with piano and then guitar and then songwriting. He would teach us how to write melodies and how to write lyrics and songs of MLTR, which is Michael Learns to Rock. We thought, at that time, it’s a song written by him to teach us how to write melodies and tune. (Laughs) So we practiced a lot of MLTR for the longest time. But after around 2 – 3 years, I got to know that MLTR was actually a band and one of their hit songs was Sleeping Child. I was around 9 years old at that time.

Photos Courtesy: Vh1 Supersonic

Tell us about your creative process and how you go about writing your songs.

It's a journey I think, it’s what you experience in life. You can't be writing good songs living in a comfort space. It all depends on your experiences in life - what kind of phases you have gone through - ups, downs or good times. It could be anything, but all these experiences in turn give you a chance to produce good melodies or good lyrics.

Do your songs speak of any personal experiences?

Yes, all my songs talk about my own personal experiences. I come from a small family background - my parents don't listen to any music, they're not musicians and they don't really care about what the entertainment world is all about. But I don't feel sad that they don't know all of this because they haven't seen or heard this kind of stuff in their life, they come from a small village known as Khunglo. We have hardly 40 to 50 people in the village.

You sing in the Nyishi dialect and you are probably the only singer ever to sing in the language.

We have a lot of folk songs, but I was the first one to write songs in Nyishi. I released it independently and I'm the first guy whose Nyishi songs are on Spotify and iTunes. I was the first guy from Arunachal to sing in the Nyishi dialect and sing in my own language, with the songs all appearing on all streaming platforms.

So you sing also in English, Hindi, Nepali, Assamese. So which is your favorite?

When I meet Assamese people I speak in Assamese, similarly when I meet any Delhi people, I speak in Hindi otherwise they'll be like, Hindi janta hai, bolta nahi hai, angreji mein baat kar raha hai (Laughs). I think I'm more comfortable in Arunachali Hindi which is a little different. We don't have any grammar. We don't have any genders in speaking. We speak Hindi, but then our Hindi is very different. Like Biharis have their own, so Arunachalis have their own Arunachali Hindi as well. So much so that people sometimes don't know that we speak Hindi in the entire North East. Our main common language is Hindi because we have more than hundred tribes and every tribe has their own language. Hindi is the only language in which we communicate with each other. Before Hindi there was Assamese going back maybe to 1940 to 1950 till about 1980. 

What music genre would you classify your music as?

I would say pop alternative. When you listen to my songs, you can hear the differences of genres. Songs like In Wadiyon Mein is more towards metal rock, because I'm putting more guitar chops, but when you listen to Walk With Me its more pop, as it is a slow song. It's dreamy poppy vibe. Then there is No Doma Lo sung in the Nyishi tribe language, Udd Chala more pop, but then you can see the difference in Shaavad which is very folk or indie folk style. So it's all a mix, and by just listening to my songs you can easily notice that I have done multi-genre stuff.

You released an EP in 2016 called, “Bond with Nature”. Are you very environmentalist?

Yes, definitely. I come from Arunachal and all my inspirations come from nature. Like when you go out, to the river or something, you get inspiration. I also like the Ruskin Bond book ‘Bond with Nature’.

You also released a 10 track album ‘Bombay Dreams’. Tell us something about it.

Yes, Bombay is a dream for everyone and I think if you want to get success in your life in entertainment, you have to come to Bombay. Everyone wants to fly to Bombay as it's a dream for everyone so I just named my album “Bombay Dreams”. 

Last year you made your Bollywood debut with the song ‘Aye Mera Dil’ for the film ‘Katak Singh’. How did you get the chance to enter Bollywood and do the song?

I really don't know how I got it actually. I got the project, the song, did a little bit of twist with the melody, went to the studio and just sang it in my style. The film director was happy, he was sure that I didn’t sound like any other singer. So that was my big point I guess.

Are there any new projects coming up? 

In May last year we released an Assamese song Monot Pore which means 'I Think Of You'. The song is about a man on his soul journey who wants to meet his partner for the last time as his memories are gradually fading away. We also released a very scenic and acoustic version of the same song in December last year. Then there’s also Halfway which was released in July. As for other new projects, we are still recording and writing. There are a few new songs and new things that will come out very soon.


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