When it comes to soulful blues, there isn’t a more widely heard band in India than Soulmate. The blues and jazz outfit comprising of singer/songwriter Tripriti Kharbangar and guitarist Rudy Wallang hails from Shillong. They played their first gig at the North East rock festival, Roots, in 2003.
Since then, Soulmate have released two albums, Shillong and Moving on. Being one of the nation’s most exportable bands, they have toured the US, France, Indonesia, Singapore, Nepal and Bhutan. Known for their edgy vocals and incendiary guitar skills, Soulmate is a greatly loved live band that can recreate the atmosphere of a smoky jazz bar in just about any venue they play. They plan to recreate the same magic tonight at Hard Rock Café.
“Mumbai’s audience is one of the best in India. It is great playing here. People here know our songs and sing along. It is also challenging because we have to come up with something new every time we perform in this city,” says Wallang, who says that the band is currently still on the road and in the process of writing their third album. “We are a live band. We are doing lots of gigs. In fact, we are coming from Bangalore after playing a gig. We plan to start recording our next album in the beginning of next year. It will be recorded and mixed in Shillong. We are pondering on collaborations with our musician friends in India and abroad,” says Wallang.
Their unique sound and strong blues skills got them two of the most coveted awards at this year’s Jack Daniel’s Rock Awards -- Guitarist of the year (for Wallang) and Female Vocalist of the Year (for Kharbangar).
“I am just glad that blues is an accepted genre in India. People have always been calling us for gigs and sending us on tour. It’s a misconception that blues doesn’t sell. There just aren’t many blues bands or music available in stores,” says Wallang.
One of their most popular songs, ‘Blues is my soulmate,’ describes their unadulterated reverence to blues. “I don’t think fusion of souds necessarily works well when you are sing the blues, because in itself it is such a strong vocal and instrumental genre,” adds Wallang.