If you watched The Stage season 2, you would have seen and heard of finalist Abhishek Gurung. He is the shy and ever-smiling young lad who gave you goosebumps with his powerpacked performances. With loads of self learning singing skills, he was surely the darling of the judges and maybe a few viewers too. Born and brought up in the beautiful town of Kurseong in Darjeeling, Abhishek showed us the talent that exists in the North East. Even though he missed the top spot he was surely a top challenger.
Despite a busy schedule, Verus Ferreira managed to pin down Abhishek for an interview, where he not only spoke about his music, but went nostalgic about his home town and its current state.
You were one of the top 10 contestants of ‘The Stage Season 2,’ Tell us about your journey into this reality show.
Ah well, I never really thought that I would make it that far. (Laughs) I was very sceptical before auditioning for the stage. I was not sure whether my singing will be accepted or not, but then when I got a call from them saying that I've made it to the top 53, everything changed. I could feel it and being a rock singer, I took up the challenge of singing whatever came my way. The journey throughout was very tough. When people with phenomenal voices practicing around, you can do nothing but sit in awe and listen to them.
At the finale, your take on Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven led one of the judges labelling you as a legend. How much does this mean to you?
It felt very nice and soothing at that time as I was down with dengue, but I feel proud of myself not for being called a legend, but for being able to pay my respect to the greatest rock n roll band Led Zeppelin on National TV.
After the reality show, did you get any offers from the record label or Bollywood?
Well, not any so far, but I did get a few offers for jingles, but I wasn't able to do it as I was on tour with my bands. Now that I'm back in Mumbai, I'll try to get a few more and start with it. So talking of bands, you have two bands back home, Still Waters and Gingerfeet. How do you manage to keep both musically happy?
Great. So tell us about your present band The Abhishek Gurung Collective.
It's just a small thing that I have started . Right now, we are basically doing covers but I'll be including a few originals in our set as well. I have a few which can't be sung with either of my two bands and Abhishek Gurung Collective is the portal through which I'll release them.
Playing in all three bands, do you do the song writing and composition of the songs?
Yes I do the writing and composition but with Gingerfeet and Still Waters, it's more of a collective effort. We enter the jam room and start jamming, throwing ideas and at the end I come with the lyrics.
You have come a long way. So lets go back to how it all started.
I was always inclined towards music. Almost everyone in my family can play a musical instrument and so music and art was a part of the family. My aunt is a gospel singer and I actually honed my singing skills by just taunting her, but I got serious into it when I was in high school. I come from a big family but primarily we are a family of four: Aama (mother), Baba (father), Baini (sister) and I. Even though we are not a joint family, we are closly knit. My father was a banker. He retired a couple of years back and is now a social worker. My mother is also a banker and she's still working and my sister is doing her Arts and film direction in Bangalore.
That’s great, so did you also take part in school and college events?
Yes. Big time. The first thought of forming a band came to me when I was 13, not as a singer but as a guitarist. I realise that I could sing when I was in my 10th standard while i was studying in Goethals Memorial School, Kurseong. Then, when I went on to study in St. Joseph's School populaly known as North Point in Darjeeling, my interest in singing doubled up, all thanks to my mentors Ms. Anna Santiago and Mrs. Viveca Gurung. They were the ones who shaped me to be the singer I am today.As for college,I studied in Bhawanipur College in Calcutta, but I opted to drop out in my final year.
What kind of songs you usually like to perform, any particular genre ?
Basically I like rock music, but now after the Stage, I enjoy performing every other genre. It's more fun to step out of the comfort zone and nailing it is even better. Hahaa
Who is your role model?
My father. He had dreams for me, like every parent has for their child, but he sacrificed it so that I could achieve mine. He was also a stage artist and plays the harmonica really well. He has been supporting me throughout. He is the kind to person I aim to be when I reach his age.
What do you aspire to be in future musically and what are your future plans, an album maybe?
To keep it simple, I aspire to be an honest musician and connect to as many as possible. My band Gingerfeet, hope to release our second album by the end of this year. I just pray it works out.
What’s your take on Sikkim, Darjeeling or entire Northeast current music scene?
Our region has always been heavily inclined towards rock music and it's probably because of the situation there. The scene is not so vibrant. There are a few festivals which provide an amazing platform to artists but it's seasonal and there are only a handful of pubs who hosts live music. Having said that, I would still want to believe that the "scene" will become better than what it is right now.
With a great music graph growing higher day by day, you surely are the fancy of many a damsel. Do you have a girlfriend?
Ah Haha. Yes I do.
Anything you would like to say to your fans out there?
I just want to tell everyone to support live acts, go for gigs. It's okay to jive and dance in a club, but it's also very inspiring to see a few people sweating it out on stage and creating a masterpiece. Peace, Love and Rock n Roll.
Interviewed by Verus Ferreira