Interviewed by Shynna Lyngdoh
For ordinary guy like anybody else, Desmond Rimaki Sun seems to appear as one. Working as an Assistant Programming Head in a local radio station 93.5 Red FM in Shillong and a father to a son and putting these all aside, Desmond still has one more identity. No, he’s not Superman but that of a popular folk artist from Shillong. Though a small time singer songwriter from a small town called Mawngap, he is a huge music lover. Check out Desmond Sun in an exclusive interview with TNT (The Northeast Today).
TNT: Great to have you with us. Tell us a bit about yourself?
DRS: Thank you.Well, I’m just an ordinary guy like everybody else…..I’m just a small time singer songwriter from a small town called Mawngap, who just loves music. I have seven siblings, I am the fourth one, and my mother is a teacher and a tailor. I’m married and I have a wonderful son, Nishan who’s 10 months old and I’m currently working at 93.5 Red FM.
TNT: Since when did u have an interest in music? Who inspired you?
DRS: Well. I’ve come from a musical family; my late father, Raymond H.Suting was in local band with his brothers, they called it “Suting Brothers” and I guess I got that from him or perhaps, it’s in the blood. Initially the person who inspired me was my uncle Peter Sunn who used to live with us right from his school days till he got married. He was extremely passionate about music; he was in the church choir and In the process he learned to play a guitar and eventually became a great guitarist. And the best part is, he also has a beautiful voice. He had this huge collection of cassettes in the likes of U2, Bonjovi, Def Leppard and a few other Metal Collections from Iron Maiden to Megadeth and so on and so forth. Therefore his love for music inspired me to be one like him too. I was also inspired by this album Paid Vacation by Richard Marx which was one of his cassette collections. When I was in the 8th standard I sang in many school activities and my elder brother Richmond, taught me how to play the guitar. And later my uncle Ralph and I formed a band called “Souvenir”. So all these things inspired me and made me what I am today.
TNT: Does anyone in your family play music?
DRS: Of course like I said I have been brought up in a musical family, yes most of my brothers, my cousins and nephews can play a few musical instruments.
TNT: What genre of music do you like to listen to?
DRS: When I was a kid , I had no choice than to listen to a lot of Heavy Metal because my uncle Peter had these Metal Collections but later when he began buying a few pop Rock Collections like The Eagles, Michael Bolton, Richard Marx etc. then I got hooked to these artistes. And Now I listen to all kinds of music from Progressive Metal to Rock, Pop Blues, Jazz, Country and little bit of RNB and Hip Hop.
TNT: Which famous musicians have you learned from?
DRS: Well I have learned from a lot of musicians starting from a few local artists like Bah Rana Kharkongor and a few others and some western artists like Richard Marx especially when it comes to learning how to sing and perform. When I was young, I Never knew how to sing properly, I was all over the place. I remember when Bah Bari, who is great sound engineer also one my mentors once said to me “Ei Me! Wat Juh bulldoze than Mung!!!Rwai bha”. Another person who also helped and opened the doors for me was Bahlit (Alistair Nongdhar) who always taught me how to be myself. These are a few people who played a very important role in my music career and not to forget my mother who has been very supportive right from the start.
TNT: What is it about the way you make a song that makes it different than the others?
DRS: I don’t know maybe it’s the way I am. I always wanted to be different and love to take risks. I have always been told not to deviate from my style of writing and composing music because I have this signature sound that is very unique from the rest. I didn’t realize it first but when I actually learned that a lot of people loved my kind of music then I got used to it.
TNT: What are the various themes that you like to convey in your songs?
DRS: In my songs I talk about my personal life, love, and peace, about society and aspirations. But I try to have simple themes so that people can easily relate to.
TNT: Any special moment that you would like to share with us?
DRS: I have many special moments that I can share with you but the best moment that I can never forget is when my son was born on the 5th of May 2014, he’s a miracle, he’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me.
TNT: What do you do apart from music? What are your other hobbies?
DRS: I love ……Watching Movies….That’s the only time that I can be away from the rest of the world. Sometimes my wife gets very angry with me… (Lol). Apart from that I love hanging out with nature, I love greenery.
TNT: Working in RED FM Shillong do you think radio has become one of the platforms for local artists to sell their songs or albums?
DRS: As we all know that Radio is the fastest and cheapest medium of communication, Yes absolutely…. it does help the artists in promoting their music but unfortunately the piracy has degraded our musicianship in many ways.
TNT: Shillong has become more and more westernised with years, it has affected the cultures and lifestyles of the people and so do their taste in music. What are the challenges that you face as a Khasi artist?
DRS: Let me be honest …as Khasis we love the western culture and their influence so much that we have neglected our own. As a result our culture and tradition is fading away and so is our music. I love the saying by some wise man who says” Lada ka Ktien ka iap,ka jaitbynriew ruh ka iap”and that also includes culture and tradition. that being said, I just hope and pray that our future generation would always remember where they come from and that they would value and treasure these gifts that god has bestowed upon us through our ancestors.
The challenges that we as artists face every day is that we don’t have a marketing prospects. We don’t have professionals to guide, help and promote out music and talent, that’s why everybody takes advantage of us. If there’s an international concert happening in town, we can always afford to buy a concert ticket that costs Rs.2000 but when any local artist sells a new album that costs about Rs.150 or Rs 200, we tend to ignore.
Another thing is, event managements, Corporate Sectors, private enterprises or the Govt. can afford to pay international bands lakhs of money and the profit is huge. But local artists are paid like peanuts. Do you think 2000 to 5000 is worth a performance? How much do good quality guitar strings cost nowadays? not to mention the other music instruments. As musicians, we now use cutting edge Instruments which are expensive, that’s why we always need financial support. But most people do not understand how much we have to go through.
TNT: Are you working on a new album right now?
DRS: No not really, I am scared to take another step, as it is people do not listen to CDs anymore, they listen to music on a flash drive or memory card or whatever the kids called these days.
I always want to but I can’t invest on something that doesn’t return. But who knows if I have a lot of money in the future hehehe….without expecting any return then maybe I will do that. You see, to record an album, it is not a joke..We‘re talking about lakhs of rupees…..and what happens then? Who will buy your Cd’s? You need to sell at least 2000 copies to make up for what you have spent but with the current market. You can’t sell even 200 copies…You do the math.
TNT: Do you have any plans on producing English songs in the future?
DRS: Yes I have always wanted to but my “inglis is beri bad”…. (lol) I can try…maybe in the near future.
TNT: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with TNT. We wish you all the best in the future.
DRS: Thanks to you and God Bless KHUBLEI SHIBUN!