Exclusive interview | Joi Barua changes tracks with soulful ‘Kowa’

Guwahati, December 5: Still riding high on the success of Na Jujor Ronuwa– The Rebirth of the Koches, Joi Barua has released a new single ‘Kowa,’ a melancholy track which is sure to tug at your heartstrings. Soulful and melodious, the music video which is up on Youtube, starring dancer Shilpika Bordoloi, is a sight for sore eyes!

TIME8 caught up with the very humble and soft spoken Joi, for a tête-à-tête and here is a short excerpt from the conversation:

T8: ‘Kowa,’ beautiful lyrics, soothing composition. Very different from the kind of music you have been doing recently. Tell us about it.

Joi: We’d never done a song like Kowa before. It captured a moment of a person’s life when you wake up in the morning and you try to whisper to somebody that you love her. And then you realize there’s nobody there in the room with you. As you move through the song there is a sense of loss, there’s a sense of space…a sense of loneliness. A sense that you could be alone, completely, in your existence. You meander through the song and you figure there was probably nobody there. It does also lead into layers of understanding ourselves, the environment…earth.

I think the endeavour was- whether the song leads, whether an emotion leads somebody…the writer or the listener anywhere. Can a sense of feeling lead you to another ground, does it open up bigger questions? Does it help you understand a bigger narrative. It is a song that is essentially stripped down to the bare minimum. There is no adornment in the song if you listen. Just plain soul and emotion. I wanted to do a song with as few notes as possible and this was the only thing I had in mind when I wanted to do it. I just executed the plan.

In terms of video I wanted to work with Samujjal (Kashyap) for a very long time. He is a very dear friend, has wonderful aesthetics. We decided to work together and also brought in Shilpika Bordoloi who is a very close friend of mine. She is a nationally awarded dancer, brilliant artiste and a brilliant human being. She just brought a sense of light into the project. We just wanted to bring in another dimension and capture the movement, the flow of things and a sense of grace.

T8: Now about Na Jujor Ronuwa. It was very well received. Do you believe you will achieve what you had planned when you had begun work on the track?

JoiNa Jujor Ronuwa has achieved spectacular success. I feel blessed. This was meant for the original sons of the soil, the Koch Rajbongshi’s and it was meant to be a call to identity, a call to pride. It was meant to wake them up to their origins, to their tradition.

This is not a song of separatist tendencies. We spent a lot of time working on the song, shooting the video and the results have just vindicated to us that people want to know where they are coming from, what has happened to them, what’s the future looking like. Identity is an important thing. I feel blessed that I was in a place and time to help them forward in this journey, to be a part of their onward tradition, to be one amongst them.

The song was meant for the Koch Rajbongshi’s to wake up to their past, to help them understand. And since there is a question of displaced identity with regard to Cooch Behar, to make them feel one with the Assamese Identity and not taking out what they have.

T8: With songs like Tumi and the Rabha song and more recently Na Jujor Ronuwa, is it the result of a conscious effort to pay your tributes to the greats or are they projects that just happened by chance?

Joi: Songs like Rabha and Na jujor Ronuwa have come at a point when I’m doing a project called Pride. It’s a musical journey and it deals with things we are proud of. People, families, neighbourhoods, memories, traditions…whatever we choose to hold on to, with love. And probably that’s pride. It’s not pride in the quintessential, biblical sense. It’s about pride of owning, pride of being (pauses).

We look upon Bishnu Rabha with so much pride and this is a story which was lying in a quiet corner. Such an amazing story with Gaji Rabha. I wanted to bring this out. I wanted to tell the world that brilliant people like them exist in smaller geographies. It was the same with Na jujor Ronuwa, a call to hold your head high.  These are not songs that happen by chance, it is a part of the whole ongoing idea called Pride. There is more to this.

The more you do music, the more you realize how deep you have to dig into tradition and that’s how you find out how less you know actually. And then you figure out what to do with the knowledge that you’ve gained. This is what I am doing, I just hope I do it well. I like doing it, I like my music to come from a point in time where there is a reference to something else which is beautiful.

T8: What next?

Joi: I don’t know! Wherever this world takes me… I wanna explore. If not this world, I’ll find another (smiles).