Lamphang Syiemlieh is a Khasi Folk singer who has been praised for his powerful, melodious and mesmerising voice. He has been really active in social media uploading music video doing cover songs as well as original tracks. Lamphang has participated in the Caux Artist Program, Initiative of Change Conferences, in Caux Switzerland.
He has two albums to his name, these include; Rympei Baieid I Mei and LA RYMPEI.
Here is Lamphang in an exclusive interview conducted by Mebanaibor Nengnong
TNT. Greetings Lamphang. A little introduction about you would be great.
LAMPHANG: I am a soloist who hails from a celebrated family of musicians. By age 5 I realised that I had a talent for singing and my mother helped me hone it. I was given musical guidance and instruction by my mother, Lumtimai Syiemlieh who is also a singer/ songwriter of exceptional repute. I participated in the Caux Artist Program, Initiative of Change Conferences, in Caux Switzerland. In June 2013, I travelled back to Switzerland for yet another program of the same regard. My very first album is entitled Rympei Baieid I Mei where I collaborated with my mother which was released in 2007. I’ve had another opportunity to work on a solo album entitled LA RYMPEI which comprises of the songs that were composed by my grandmother (L) Kong Listrimai Syiemlieh and my own compositions which are a blend of Khasi Folklore and Jazz and was released last year, February 2015. I am a Graded Artist by the All India Radio, Shillong on both Khasi Folk and Western categories.
TNT. You’ve been active on social media sharing your self-shot music videos where you are seen covering songs, how has the internet been helpful?
LAMPHANG: Yes, I have been doing that. Well the internet is one of the biggest platforms to showcase our talents. It has personally helped me in reaching out to people, music lovers and also other fellow musicians. It is also a good place to advertise our tours, new songs and concerts.
TNT. When did you actually start picking up the mic?
LAMPHANG: As I’ve mentioned in my introduction, I am blessed to have been born into a family of musicians and yes, they have been supporting me. The first program I was in was when I was 5 years old, it was a Christmas Program in the All India Radio, Shillong.
TNT. Walk me through the process, I’ve listened to the song La Rympei, it’s great. What message are you trying to convey through the song?
LAMPHANG: Thank you so much, La Rympei is a message, a lesson and appreciation in a song. The song fondly recalls a time when in a small corner of the earth lies the hearth of our land. Now times have changed and the hearth has disintegrated, bringing about the collapse of values and beliefs. The refrain therefore repeatedly implores all the children of the land not to stray too far from the teachings of our forefathers in the pursuit of pleasure. The song however does not end there, as it progresses it turns into a searing critique of environmental degradation, but there is hope yet when the singer eventually expresses his love for the land. This is the story in which the chaos brought about by materialistic greed is resolved through the shared project of caring for the land.
TNT. When you write songs where do you derive your inspiration from?
LAMPHANG: Songs are written in many circumstances. Sometimes they are written out of love, heartbreak, beauty and other aspects of human emotion and surroundings. God has blessed us with creativity. Each song has a depth of inspiration. There’s a song that I’ve written, a Christmas song and I wrote it last June. It just came into my dreams, both lyrics and the tune. At 3 am I woke up and sat on the keyboard writing down the lyrics and finding the tune. And it’s a really special song for me because my main inspiration come from the street children. I share my love and care to those special souls in this song.
TNT. You’ve been doing a lot of covers, why not make produce more original tracks, don’t you think it would be better?
LAMPHANG: I like doing covers but I do love writing and performing my own songs.
TNT. So far, how many covers have you been covering?
LAMPHANG: Quite a few. I love singing songs by legends like Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, etc
TNT. Local artistes you would love to collaborate with? Be it from any part of the Northeast
LAMPHANG: I have always looked up and respect our local band Soulmate and I would be honoured to have the chance to perform with them.
TNT. Who has been your inspiration to take up this path in life as a singer?
LAMPHANG: I am blessed to have my grandmother (L) Kong Listrimai Syiemlieh and my mother Kong Lumtimai Syiemlieh. They are my inspiration.
TNT. As a singer, let me have your opinion on the current music scene in Northeast as a whole.
LAMPHANG: I hope the music scene grows and we should try to discover new talents. I know that there is amazing talent out there that need to shine. Honestly, the music scene here in Shillong especially for our local artists is going down.
TNT. Why do you think so?
LAMPHANG: Because by looking at the amount of concerts we have for and by our local talents, they are very few… Wouldn’t it be amazing to have concerts of different genres and promoting different local artists? Won’t it live up to that name Rock Capital of India? There are lots of problems that we as musicians face in Shillong. We artists have been neglected. Period!!! And by artists I mean not only musicians but as all the arts.
TNT. What do you think is needed to uplift music in Shiilong?
LAMPHANG: Respect!! Have more time to think of the needs of musicians… Life isn’t going to be a grand success without music
TNT. You have such a great voice, melodious and mesmerising, I would encourage you to write more original music. However, would you consider yourself as a soul artiste?
LAMPHANG: Thank you once again. Yes, I have been writing my own songs. Apart from Khasi Folk Songs, I enjoy singing soul.
TNT. What musical genre are you specifically into?
LAMPHANG: Khasi Folk and I would also say Soul.
TNT. How about sharing our readers about the journey you’ve endured as singer since you started until this very moment?
LAMPHANG: Living life as a musician is interesting with a whole lot of up’s and down’s but it is fun. There was a point of time where my life was difficult – emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. I was not alone, yes, my family and close friends were there but God with his amazing love healed me through Music. That’s why I consider music as my Saving Grace.
TNT. All right. Thank you for your time. Keep up the good work
LAMPHANG: Thank you for the interview Meban. You too keep up with what you’re doing!
(By Mebanaibor Nengnong, firstname.lastname@example.org)