Rigzen Lama is a singer-songwriter from Siliguri, West Bengal now based in New Delhi. Currently working on his debut EP, the release of his first soulful single “Ehsaas” from his upcoming EP received a warm reception. We got in touch with him to know more about his life, his music and his inspirations.
1. Tell us a bit about your project. How did you begin your journey as a singer-songwriter?
There’s no particular way I would define my project as, but if I had to sum it up in a few words, I would say, these are the songs that come from a special place in my heart. My genre would be around the spectrum of soul-rock, rock, and indie-folk.
My journey as a songwriter embarked on a chilly winter night, back in 2016. I was going through a rough phase in my life. I had been looking for ways to vent out my feelings for a long time, and then it all happened naturally to me. I wrote my first song that night and haven’t looked back ever since. Most of my writings, during the initial phase of my songwriting journey, were about my personal experiences. But with the passage of time, I’ve fairly enjoyed putting myself into another person’s shoes and writing about it.
2. Which bands/artists were your first love and who is your biggest influence?
While growing up, I was exposed to a variety of music genres that was majorly dominated by popular Bollywood classics of that time. I remember “Ama” (my mother) visiting music stores while returning home from work, only to buy cassettes for me, so that I could practice before my singing competitions at school. Also, in particular, there were no major influences, as I tried to absorb all the distinct flavors of the various genres and artists of that era. But, as I grew older, I started developing a taste for myself to listen to. My go-to artists during those formative years would mostly range from the likes of Ed Sheeran, Imagine Dragons, Green Day, and John Mayer.
3. You just released a single, “Ehsaas”. Tell us a bit about it. What’s the song about?
Ehsaas is a very personal and special song for me. This is the first song that I ever wrote and composed. The song for me is about not being able to come to terms with the end of a long-term relationship; the fact that something so beautiful and intense could ever come to an end. A feeling where someone’s presence is still felt even after they are gone, in fact to such an extent that you even feel their presence in the decisions you make and the things you do, a state in which someone has left an impression on your life forever. And yet, amidst all the turmoil, still clinging to a ray of optimism and looking ahead to achieve the dreams in life.
4. What was your music-making and recording process like?
The process kicks off with me writing the songs in my bedroom, followed by filtering the songs that I believe make me move the most. “Feel” has always been paramount for me. Once that is done, I play it to the band and we move ahead with the arrangements. I like to jam it out well before going to the studio. This is to ensure that everyone complements one another and that we sound more authentic. My approach has always been old school in this regard. I recorded ‘Ehsaas’ at Anindo Bose’s Plug N’ Play Studios, here in the capital. He is effortlessly one of the finest sound engineers in India and it has been a treat working with him in the studio.
5. You have your debut album release coming up really soon. What can we expect from the album?
It is a four-song EP and I’m yet to name it. The EP will be a journey in itself chronicling my love-hate relationship and embracing the emotional anguish over the years, in chronological order, ‘Ehsaas’ being the first among them. From not being able to come to terms with a breakup, to being skeptical about falling in love again with someone new. These four songs somewhat inscribe my journey over the past four years. I believe that a lot of people would be able to draw their own interpretations, connect to these songs, and reminisce about the moments, places, and dive into some beautiful memories from the depths of time.
6. Why do you make music? What drives you as a musician and what are your songs about?
This is probably the toughest question to answer. There are several factors that play into it. If I have to answer this with sheer honesty then I would say that there’s not a specific reason as to why I love doing it. I simply love it. I love the whole journey of creating something from nothing and learning from these experiences that in turn helps me polish my skills. Nothing makes me happier in the world than being in the studio, working on a track, jamming with the band, or just sitting down with my guitar in solace, and playing random music to myself.
7. Which Indian bands or artists do you admire? And why?
There are numerous talented artists and bands in the creative sphere lately, but I’ve really admired Bipul Chettri’s music for an extended period of time. This is simply because of the honesty reflecting in his songwriting that is well balanced with the folk elements in the arrangements of his songs. This truly takes me back to the hills without failing, a place that will forever be closest to my heart, my hometown, Kurseong and Siliguri.
8. What’s your take on the independent music scene in India?
The independent music scene has been fairly growing at its own pace. We’ve always had great artists and bands during the past, but what is slightly different now is that there’s much more awareness among the general crowd. People have started being more welcoming and are interested in listening to Indie acts and their stories. Apart from all the varied personal struggles that every Indie artist is going through; I really feel it’s important for all the artists in the community to be more united at this crucial juncture. This will be possible by supporting and picking each other up even more than before in order to capitalize our independent music scene based on the truly deserved attention that it is finally getting and to help the scene gain more momentum in the coming times.