In anticipation of the release of his forthcoming album ‘Parallels,’ we spoke with Indian artist Chokamkuru Langneh about his latest single ‘Out of the Dark,’ writing songs in Karbi and English, creating his new record, and more!
Marking a name for himself with his nostalgia-inducing, dreamy-toned English and Karbi language discography, Shillong-based singer-songwriter Chokamkuru Langneh is akin to the rising talents of India’s indie music scene. Since debuting with the fan-favorite track ‘Rong-Aje’ in 2019, Chokamkuru went on to roll out a series of tastefully curated singles, the acclaimed debut album ‘Life in Frames,’ and now, after a year-long hiatus, yet another collection of songs that proliferate his forthcoming album, ‘Parallels.’
Off of the sophomore record comes his latest tune, ‘Out of the Dark,’ a somber, heartfelt track that punctuates Chokamkuru’s vocals amidst the tender atmosphere built with delicate piano and guitar licks. “‘Out of the Dark’ was something I wrote when I was going through quite a tough time. I just penned down whatever I felt during that time into that song and writing the song became quite effortless ‘cause it was all just coming from whatever I had experienced,” said Chokamkuru about its creation. The artist credits his producer Raikom Terang for building the instrumentals that coalesced Chokamkuru’s words into an emotive song, inspired by the likes of artists like Niall Horan.
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‘Out of the Dark’ follows a legion of 2023 singles that Chokamkuru released after his year-long hiatus since sharing his debut album, ‘Life in Frames,’ in 2021. As a part-time musician, he directed his focus on his academic life and later caught up with music towards the end of his break. “I eventually came out with my first single over a year and a half earlier this year, and the response was as great as it was when I last put out a song or the album,” noted the singer-songwriter about his return. “Also, I needed time off to learn and relearn a few things about songwriting and all the other stuff so that I could come out with something that is a lot more mature in all aspects compared to all of my previous releases.”
Prior to his break, Chokamkuru had a bevy of tunes out, including his nine-track seminal record and hits such as ‘You Wouldn’t Know,’ ‘Good Old Days’ and his debut single ‘Rong-Aje,’ all within two years of debuting as an independent artist. Contrary to our belief, Chokamkuru prefers releasing tracks right as they are made instead of banking them. He breaks down his process, explaining, “I do not like having unfinished projects, so I try to finish most of my projects and also put them out. Since I write songs that are mostly about human experience, I try to put them out as soon as possible because the feeling that is embedded in the song may change over time if I do not put it out within that period. And that’s how I like to release my songs.”
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Another couple of years later, Chokamkuru Langneh is now gearing up to drop his sophomore album titled ‘Parallels.’ Having spent nearly three years as an independent artist now, we wondered how the artist differentiates between creating both his albums. “With ‘Life in Frames’, I think I was a bit naive and amateur with my songwriting and all the other aspects as well,” he admits, comparing his growth and approach as a musician now. “I think the main difference between the two albums would be maturity and the way both of the albums were written. ‘Parallels’ is very much based on things I have experienced, and it has a clear vision and idea. ‘Parallels’ is a more genuine, mature and honest album.”
Sprouted from a place of personal significance and connection, the album title refers to two facets that never meet as per its definition and also draws inspiration from the existence of two separate realities in a parallel universe. Chokamkuru convenes these idealogies, comparing how he fails to be with the person he loves owing to differences and similarities, while also detailing how he ends up with that person in a parallel universe.
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“‘Parallels’ is a journey about falling in love with someone you were never supposed to be with. The journey is a downward spiral that takes the lover to very dark places, which leaves him questioning if what he feels is actually love or just him keeping himself happy by being delusional,” details Chokamkuru. “It also emphasizes the great lengths that the person will go to just to be with the person he loves. The album ends with the realization and acceptance that some things are just not meant to be. So, I think listening to the album will be quite a journey. The album also features a collaboration with a very wonderful friend of mine from Arunachal Pradesh, Oshin, so that will be something to look forward to as well.”
Of the pre-release singles rolled out so far from ‘Parallels,’ ‘Chetongji Mene’ became an instant hit on streaming platforms and with his listeners. Written in the language of Karbi, which is spoken by the Karbi people of Northeastern India, Chokamkuru finds immense pride and pleasure in representing the language. “I like to take the language along with me on my journey, as they talk about never forgetting your roots,” he conveys while also speaking about the incongruity with which the people back home in Karbi Anglong perceive his music. While the audience in his hometown outpours appreciation for Karbi artists in general, including Chokamkuru’s Karbi releases, he remarks how his singles in English are not liked by the masses at large.
But that doesn’t hinder his goal to incorporate both languages into his music. “I think I have tried breaking the barriers, and I am trying my best to pave the way for other artists from back home to come up with songs other than Karbi as well,” said Chokamkuru. “For me, I will continue making music in Karbi as well as English because I just love writing songs in both languages. Apart from the audience back home, I think that the non-Karbi audience loves the Karbi songs a lot as well. In fact, most of my Karbi songs are more popular than my other songs.”
Chokamkuru presents the best of both worlds with his English and Karbi releases, as will be uncloaked in his forthcoming album. With a full-blown marketing strategy in place and a bunch of music videos lined up, ‘Parallels’ will be out in the world much sooner than you anticipate. “I think it is going to be a special year with a lot to expect from me and the album. Most of the album is done. I am just re-recording and re-doing one song from scratch in particular, which you can expect to be one of the best songs on the record. There’s probably a nationwide tour in store for everyone that will get finalized when the album comes out. So, still quite a lot to come for the rest of the year!”
The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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