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Exclusive Premiere: Watch Takar Nabam’s Vulnerable Nyishi Song ‘Sang Be Yu Rey’

The New Delhi/Itanagar artist’s music video also addresses the fighting spirit among children who face abuse

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Anurag Tagat Feb 01, 2020

Takar Nabam (left) in a still from his new video "Sang Be Yu Rey"

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When singer-songwriter Takar Nabam played his latest song, an adaptation of his native Arunachal Pradesh’s Nyishi tribal song “Sang Be Yu Rey” to his parents, they told him to never play it again. “It rang a bell with them and they were so overwhelmed with emotions,” he says.

Featuring lyrics penned by Nyishi writer Stephen Toku, the song details how a rejected, often unloved person fights for their pride and dignity to emerge as a stronger individual despite the odds. In a more specific context, Nabam says he wanted to address how practices local to Arunachalese – like polygamy – leave families in disarray and children at the receiving end of abuse. “I’ve tried to bring to light the issues that are prevalent here, and with the hope that it will bring about some positive transformation,” the guitarist-singer says.

Featuring drums by Toko Teji, bassist Nisham Pul and cello portions by Adiel Massar, “Sang Be Yu Rey” was recorded by guitarist-producer Haggai Rongmei at Erki’s Studio in Naharlagun. Translating to “Shall I Live” in English, Nabam sings in openhearted strains about the down trodden, “Ngam, aku kam abhiu ma/Ngam sobu attubu eh (No one loves me/Oh my caretaker, who looks after me?)” By the end, the gentler guitar strains swell into a bigger rock arrangement as the protagonist now explains that their head is held high. “Ngo sang bo, sang hibo/Ngo do ma lo kam gengda-issi kaa pah ram (I will live, I will surely live/If I am not alive, this world will be incomplete)”

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In the video directed by Duyu Tabyo (who also wrote the screenplay), the band performs as a tumultuous story of a young girl unravels and she begins to find a way to break out of the cycle of abuse. Nabam says, “Both Duyu Tabyo and Nabam Katung from NK Works [director of photography] are very hard working and they have poured in their creativity generously.”

While it’s only the artist’s second Nyishi song – following his 2019 celebratory single “Nyokum Sokhi To” – Nabam hopes he can do justice to his native dialect. Up next, however, there’s more sonic twists and turns from the guitarist who moved from prog metal band Guillotine to his own jazz trio to singer-songwriter tunes. Nabam says about his upcoming EP, “I’m done writing five songs already. Since I dived into the world of lush synth sounds, I’ve been experimenting with it. My listeners are in for a surprise, that’s all I can say.”

Watch the video for “Sang Be Yu Rey” below. 

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