Shillong-based band Soulmate talks about being back in Hyderabad after a year, and more
TO be the only blues band representing India at the 23rd International Blues Challenge, America, in 2007, is just one of the reasons why Soulmate is arguably the most loved blues band in the country. Tipriti ‘TIPS’ Kharbangar’s effortless vocals and Rudy Wallang’s ease with the guitar, which results in soulful tunes, makes for another reason. Received by a packed house for their previous performance in the city, a year later, the Shillong-based band is back with a mix of original material and covers of popular blues songs.
Started off in 2003, Soulmate has certainly been one of the pioneers of the Indian blues music scene. The two-member band offers the perfect raw essence of blues, inspired by nature, positivity, other genres like rock, jazz and soul and their hometown. Their recent India tour in 2017 was named after their town — The Spirit of Shillong Tour captures their love for the city and its people. “Shillong is home. We took a conscious decision to stay back here and not move to other cities. It keeps us aware of where we come from. We prefer to be in Shillong and travel when opportunity knocks,” shares Rudy.
Apart from regular gigs in metros and two-tier cities including Patna, Soulmate has shared the stage with the likes of American guitarist Buddy Guy and San Francisco-based Latin rock band Santana, among others. However, when Rudy and Tipriti (Shillong-based) first started off in 2003, the biggest challenge they faced was to play for an audience who was still recognising and exploring blues as a genre. “Back then, there wasn’t really a blues scene in India. Now there is one, even though it’s not mainstream,” recalls Rudy. Over the years, the band has created a niche for themselves not just in blues, but in the indie circuit as well. “Our music has taken us to places we could only dream of playing. I feel that the more one plays, the simpler the music gets. We have learned to cut out the fat and stick to the basics,” says Tipriti.
Travelling through the year in India and abroad with regular gigs every week for 15 years might sound too much, but Soulmate doesn’t seem to let that affect them, considering their infectious energy on stage. “We have always kept the music before us. We are the wheels and the music is the driver and it will always be that way. We play every gig like it’s our last,” she shares, adding, “All we need are hugs and a shot of whisky to get us going.”
Tickets: Rs.750. August 24, 8 pm onwards. At Hard Rock Cafe.