Understanding musical influences with Joi

Though he feels singers and musicians from North-east India have not got their due, singer-musician Joi Barua feels people in India are slowly opening up to all kinds of music. Read on to know more about what he said and the kind of music he believes in…

One feels singer, musician and the vocalist for a band named after him, Joi Barua must be a deep follower of Lao Tzu when you hear the quote – Music in the soul can be heard by the universe. This lad from Assam has been spreading his musical wings not just in Indie music and also his voice and musical talent to films apart from being part of the ad world. By being a part of films like Dev.D, Jannat 2, Agent Vinod, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Jab We Met and Golmaal and so on, as singer or vocal arranger, he has worked with music directors, from Amit Trivedi, Pritam, and Ram Sampath to Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.
His musical influences are many but he has no favourites. “Rock appeals to me as I heard a lot of it while growing up. When you travel, difference influences appear.” He spoke about the North-east, which is different in terms of music. Quite a few names in music have come from the North-east. Despite that, the kind of reach which they should get, is not there, be it in Indian film music and indie music. Joi feels this is the right observation. “India does not know much about those areas. We are cut off. Some rather eminent and different people have come from these regions. SD Burman is from Agartala, Tripura. He had the influence of that area in his music. Salil Chowdhury was from Assam and he was influenced by the lilting melody from the North-east, Mozart, etc and not Bengali music which has been influenced by Rabindra Sangeet. He was a versatile musician”
He has performed with his band everywhere. He prefers to talk to people through his music. “Ours is an arena style music and our audience comes from all age group. We have used folklore in our music which has gone down well with the public. But I am not a folk composer. I have lived away from Assam for some time and not rooted in the folk ideology. My music resonate today’s music.”
Joi always wanted to be in the music industry and he knew that while growing up. “I always sang in English and Assamese. Bollywood did not figure in my list. But I did not know how to take music up as a profession. I was in Delhi after my graduation but thought it was all wrong. I figured I should give it a try. And life pushed me towards it.” And the fact that he has worked with a number of musicians, the learning experience must have tremendous. Joi admits that he never learned music and things came naturally to him. “Each music director or musician taught me. Pritam blends in a lot of east influence in his music, while Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music is a mix of rock and South Indian music. Ram Sampath is all about Mumbai rock music. Whatever I learned technically is from Bollywood.”

And no, Joi does not feel there are any tough situations for film or indie music these days. He adds, “The music created by my band has gone to the masses. Singing for music directors means one has to go by his or her vision. We have to get in line with their expectation. With our own music, we are on our own to shoulder responsibility, for its failures and successes. Both have different merits and challenges, along with skills sets.”
For now, Joi and his band are composing their own album. Plus, he is composing for John Abraham’s next project. It is Sajid Ali’s directorial debut set in Jamshedpur. He is editing the music at the moment. He has also composed the title track for Sonali Bose’s next film. “The music for both the films will be grounded in rock,” Joi signs off.