Music Arko Mukhaerjee and the art of remaining alternative


Urban folk singer Arko Mukhaerjee’s year-end itinerary is ambitious, to say the least. The musician has just played an “ethno electronic” jam of Abbasuddin’s river song Amay Dubaili Re in a Berlin home studio. In Munich, he designed a series of immersive installations and workshops for Spielart. His Instagram documents the start of autumn in Salzburg and last month he opened his new album on Darjeeling, from his wall home in Kolkata while strumming his Kazakh Dombra.

Arko Mukhaerjee with his Kazakh Dombra

@ arkomukhaerjeeoriginal / Instagram

“Darjeeling has become my home,” said the multi-instrumentalist who once escaped his home “with just enough money” to land in Darjeeling where he could still find shelter. On Facebook, the artist recently recalled that as a teenager he dreamed of a Tibetan wool jacket from Habeeb Mullick & Son of Darjeeling Chowrasta, but had less than Rs 150 for a stay of three. days.

Mukhaerjee’s next album is called 110 Gandhi Street, an address in Darjeeling where the whole project took shape. “The project is written, sung and produced entirely in Darjeeling,” the artist explained. Mukhaerjee, who can sing in at least 15 languages, incorporated authentic Nepalese, Bengali and Urdu compositions into the album.

The singer in a sustainable and homestay project called Revolver in Darjeeling

The singer in a sustainable and homestay project called Revolver in Darjeeling

@ arkomukhaerjeeoriginal / Instagram

Mukhaerjee really wants to go beyond anecdotes and creative tributes and really wants to give back to the communities of Darjeeling. Mukhaerjee is currently associated with a sustainable project called Revolver (yes, inspired by the popular Beatles album), a host family that is also exploring coffee production and organic farming in Darjeeling. The artist is also leading a bunch of initiatives to provide medical facilities for workers at the Darjeeling tea garden and also finds time to teach music to local children.

Home and the world

From his first solo album Ghater Kotha released in 2013, Mukhaerjee’s eccentric experimental productions and collaborations gained attention. The singer who also co-founded Kolkata-based band Fiddler’s Green has been part of prolific international collaborations (his dexterity with niche instruments only helped). He has worked with Irish harp Anna Tanveer, American violinist and Grammy nominee Casey Driessen, banjo player Ben Krakeur, bluegrass artist Diptangshu Roy and Daniel Givone, maestro of the gypsy jazz guitar.

A young Arko.

A young Arko. “No one can take away the years I spent listening to music,” he said.

@ arkomukhaerjeeoriginal / Instagram

“No one can take away the years I spent listening to music. In the 15 minutes I could have with Kochu Da (Monojit Datta), I would ask him what he played, how he played it and bombard him with questions about various musical instruments, ”recalls Mukhaerjee.

Current of luck

In the virtual circuit, as independent artists and bands scrambled to find the most viable production route (in terms of revenue, streaming and exposure), Mukhaerjee found a base of listeners. stable on YouTube. The artist whose YouTube page just crossed the 200,000 mark revealed that his YouTube earnings paid his driver’s salary. Interestingly, his channel seems to have struck the right balance between local and global sounds as it lines up covers of Shyamal Mitra, Irish and Bengali folk, Nepalese and Bengali. adhunik tracks.

A notable number on his page is his latest video featuring the song by the coal miner Santhali Sange Libé. The song, which was uploaded on September 26, has more than 2,000 views. Mukhaerjee’s various experiences with tribal sounds can perhaps be explained by his basic training which was steeped in classical elements and Eastern Bengali folk.

The singer, 19 years ago

The singer, 19 years ago

@ arkomukhaerjeeoriginal / Instagram

“I learned the Bhairavi raga on my father’s bike, I heard him during his riyaz. Until the age of 10, I received classical Hindustani training from my parents. My mother was a student of Shri Dhirendra Chandra Mitra and my father received guidance from Pandit Jagdish Prasad. My Phool Dadu Shri Madhumangal Mukherjee played the role of Sadhak Kamalakanta for at least 50 years in Bardhaman. My great-grandfather was Shri Khitish Chandra Goswami (Moulik), the author of Purba Banga Geetika“, revealed Mukhaerjee.

Despite his classical leanings, the artist credits alternative pioneer Kabir Suman for the revival of his interest in modern Bengali music. “For four years, I only listened to Suman Da’s songs and I love his music. Suman Da brought me back to Bangla Adhunik Gaan, “he said. Matal Rajjak Dewan’s Masjid Ghore Allah Thake Na, Jeno Kichu Mone Koro Na Keu Jodi Kichu Bole by Akhilbandhu Ghosh and Jaganmoy Mitra Sawano Raatey Jodi are other pieces that influenced him.


“Darjeeling has become my home,” said the multi-instrumentalist

@ arkomukhaerjeeoriginal / Instagram

Currently, Mukhaerjee is preparing to be part of the SpielArt festival in Munich with choreographer Sandra Chatterjee and music producer Kanishka Sarkar (their collaborative installation is titled Smells of coexistence). The next step is a collaboration between him, Basab Mallick, Joyraj Bhattacharjee to Langarkhana launch bar, a live music YouTube channel featuring original music (“Not from the aesthetic of a corporate studio but straight from a labor intensive suburban working environment in the suburbs of Bengal ”, underlines Mukhaerjee).

There is also an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore Bisarjan in works directed by Joyraj Bhattacharjee for which Mukhaerjee composed the music, and his album 110 Gandhi Street is scheduled for release in October.

“Music is part of life, but it is not more important than life,” said Arko

@ arkomukhaerjeeoriginal / Instagram

As a farewell note, the artist recalls that art and music thrive when they are truly democratized. “I’ll never have a problem if someone from any part of the world sings my songs or adds five more lines to any of them. I would rather be happy. Music is part of life, but it is not more important than life. The journey of a musician is not more important than the course of life. Mukhaerjee reaffirmed.

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