Singer-songwriter Abhibyanjana Thatal (23) is one quiet yet very loud wunderkind and I say that because she lets her music do the talking. You probably have never heard about her and you would be correct if you say, ‘maybe she is underrated’ because she is. MAJORLY UNDERRATED.
She has been playing music since she was a small kid and her music is proof that you don’t need numbers to define someone’s success. Her greatest achievement you say? How about a singing credit in Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s produced film “Pahuna: The Little Visitors”? She has also released two original songs titled ‘Groovy Girl’ and ‘Breezing Through’. As she preps to release her new song ‘Winter Love’, Thatal is finally making major music moves. Read our in-depth conversation about music, music in Sikkim, music in our life, music everywhere.
Q) Your first single was released in 2018. Then you went on to release one song, almost a year ago. Why the long hiatus??
AT: Trying to score a balance between my music and education was a difficult task. It still is. I’m just a girl trying to venture into an unknown path and you can say I am being practical with my approach. I was trying to strike a balance and learn to do both mainstream education as well as music. While I did write songs during that time, the process of production is one that requires time, effort and dedication.
AT: I find music irresistible. It’s almost like it works to evoke a certain feeling in you and that’s exactly what it does for me. It’s therapeutic to me. Every musical piece presents itself as a new thing for me, sometimes it’s like a help that you need, sometimes it’s an inspiration. So I stay connected to music even if I don’t have any gigs or am not writing by jamming along with other friends, sharing music and maybe because we all have a certain affinity to music.
Q) As an independent artist from Sikkim, what do you hope for the future generations of musicians, songwriters and performers in the State?
AT: Sikkim is going through a rapid stage of transformation socially, economically, politically and culturally. The scenario here 10 years ago was not as conducive to artists as it is today and we’re only slowly warming up to supporting local artists here. Today, I think we in Gangtok, at least, are slowly transitioning to becoming more and more hospitable to local musicians. We have reached a certain stage of urbanism and that is reflecting in the pub and cafe cultures of Gangtok. That makes us feel excited because we can play our music.
I hope people in Sikkim support the local artists more and more, we need this support that people like yourselves are giving us. This also means that there is scope for better production houses in Sikkim that are inclusive to all artists.
Q) You have a singing credit in the feature film “Pahuna”, how did that happen?
AT: I think it was possible through the power of social media, simply put. A lot of people in the crew were from Sikkim and one of them who had heard my song covers and some music on Instagram recommended me to their music director. The music director of the film then heard my songs on Instagram and decided he wanted to work with me. If I attribute this event to my ‘luck’ I would be discrediting my work as a musician, I believe the circumstances at that time were just right and I ended up singing a track for the film.
Q) Growing up, which artists did you look up to?
AT: I was influenced by my parent’s taste in music. Then my socialization at school let me into another kind of music, my music teacher inspired another style of music to me. There is a great variety in this list ranging from rock, progressive rock, jazz, blues, metal, punk, folk music and pop music, classical music. Fiona Apple, Yves Tumor, Norah Jones, Julia Stone, Ella Fitzgerald, Soko, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, John Mayer, Porcupine Tree, Mogwai and so on. I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention a lot more.
Q) Any Sikkimese artists that has your attention in terms of bringing the much needed spotlight in the State?
AT: It’s great to see a lot of new musicians in Sikkim. I cannot answer this without mentioning Tribal Rain whose music inspired me and so many of us. Girish and the Chronicles of course brought Sikkim to notice from the national media in terms of music. Konflicts has my attention currently, Peeyush Nepal, Zeron, Aabishkaar Thatal, Anoushka Maskey and Dechen Phinasa. These are the young artists who I see as my contemporaries as well as inspirations and I’m looking forward to seeing more
and more of them.
Q) What are you looking forward to the most in 2021, in terms of new projects, gigs?
AT: I have been working on a few projects lately and my songs are finally going to see the light of the day. I’ll be releasing my song “Winter Love” in the coming month. Aside from my solo projects, I am collaborating with musicians from Assam and Mumbai to bring to you another side of this exploration in the form of an E.P. I’ll soon be sharing more details regarding this single and the solo project following that, as well as more information about the E.P. very soon. I’m looking forward to growing and exploring more as a musician.