Solace Her is a Manipuri rock band, which was formed in 2017 with Rohan Thounaojam as a vocalist, Roger Achom and Dipu Loitongbam as guitarists. Over the years, the band's popularity has skyrocketed and it has become a fan favourite- especially for its style of music composition.
In conversation with Parthona Phukan, Solace Her speaks at length about its journey so far.
Parthona Phukan: What is the story behind adopting the name Solace Her?
SH: Solace Her was formed in early 2017 with Rohan Thounaojam as a vocalist and Roger Achom and Dipu Loitongbam as guitarists.
Earlier, it was called Rohan & The Band. Under that name, we won the Manfete Rock Competition (unplugged) in 2017. While in search of a bassist, Dipu and a good friend of ours, Ton Wang, met Rozer Haobam in a bar through mutual friends.
That year, Rozer joined the band as a bassist. A mutual friend of the band, Johnson Hijam, also joined as a Cajon percussionist, and they performed together for the first time under the name Solace in an acoustic gig with the band Cajon Diaries.
Later that year, Rozer contacted his schoolmate, Edwin Haorokcham, to join the group as a drummer.
Altogether, we adopted the current band name, Solace Her, and released our first single, Tamna Tamna, in 2019.
In mid-2021, we approached our old friend Shrikant Chingangbam to join the band as a guitarist.
The current line-up of Solace Her comprises Rohan Thounaojam, Roger Achom, Rozer Haobam, Shrikant Chingangbam, and Edwin Haorokcham.
Parthona Phukan: What makes Soalace Her unique?
SH: Although it’s for the audience to decide, we prefer to keep our priorities on quality rather than quantity and promise to keep our music as raw as possible.
Parthona Phukan: How does each member contribute to the growth of the band?
SH: Rohan Thounaojam wrote most of the lyrics and drafted the early chords for most of our songs. All the guitar leads, intros and sweet melodies you’re hearing in each song is the work of Roger Achom.
As well as a dedicated bassist, Rozer Haobam managed to keep everything organised in the band. We could have literally starved to death if he had not been around during our jams and making music videos too. He is the master chef of the group. Shrikant Chingangbam has been a helping hand even before he joined the band. Shrikant’s room is our second base for a quick jam session. He was also featured in the Tamna Tamna music video as a special appearance. Edwin directed, shot, and edited the music videos too. He also mixed and mastered the songs of the band.
Our manager, Niranjoy Luwangcha, is the king and army of almost everything we have achieved so far.
80% of our music videos were shot in and around his house and compound.
All of us are also members of the Uchek Society. A video/audio production group in Imphal.
Parthona Phukan: All three of your music videos provide great stories and send a powerful message. So, how did you come up with these ideas, and how did you put them into action to create such a stunning piece of art?
SH: In late 2018, after we were finished with the recording of Tamna Tamna, we decided to release it as the debut single of the band with a music video. Edwin came up with the idea of portraying a disaster love story set in Manipur during the 90s when the horror of armed forces was at its peak.
Just before making Tamna Tamna, he shot a documentary about events set in Manipur during the 70s and 90s, along with a team from Studio Dominance for the Indian Army. That’s where he got the motivation.
Edwin teamed up with his brother’s old friend Ratan Sapam, one of the creative team and the owner of Studio Dominance, to develop the outlook of the video, which they later collaborated on all of their music videos. Niranjoy Luwangcha, the manager of the band, was also assigned as the production manager of the video. His skills in organising and overseeing the project were one of the main reasons we were able to manage the whole video with a small budget.
Edwin wanted to present Tamna Tamna's visuals in a way that was unlike anything our state had previously produced. He wanted the video of Tamna Tamna to be different, nostalgic, original, and retro.
Most people have known and experienced the terror and fear of the violence during the 80s and 90s in Manipur but least had experienced it personally.
After finalising the story, the search for the lead actors was one of the most crucial parts. The team decided to cast a new face. Edwin demanded new faces because he thought a fresh story deserves a fresh look and talent. So, Edwin and the band cast Prinalini Thingom whom Edwin spotted on social media and Texas, who is a mutual friend of the band. The band had no budget for such a big music video, especially when it was going to be set in the past. Recreating the 90s was the biggest challenge but unity, logical thinking and dedication beat the obstacle.
In early 2020, we completed recording and mastering our second single, Meetam.
However, Meetam is a love song, Rohan wrote the lyrics in a way that defining a specific sort of love is uncertain to a listener. Edwin believes all kind of love is valid and must be accepted.
While imagining the visual of Meetam, Edwin drafted a few different stories and later concluded to an idea of a story of two girls in love because our society still struggles to accept such love of same-sex and being a part of their voice is essential. Although the story is fixed, Edwin decided to deliver the video with a different method in an aesthetic manner. He wanted the video to be considered as a series of moving paintings instead of a video itself.
The band then decided to cast for new talents. Fortunately, artist and painter Jibani Karam and costume designer Kim was asked to be featured in the video and, fortunately, they happily accepted.
Both equally contributed to the making of Meetam. In some scenes, Kim’s designs were also used as costumes.
The whole team was uncertain whether the video would be received with positive responses because the theme was unfamiliar and unusual in our society. Finally, we have received so much love and support, surprisingly.
In 2021, we decided to record a full album, but due to the pandemic, it was difficult for the band to jam, compose, and record new songs. However, we recorded only one song, and it was Lambi. At that time, we were unsure of the pandemic’s end, so we brought recording new songs to a halt and decided to release Lambi as a single.
Depression is one of the major issues in today’s youth, and overcoming such a mental issue is dreadful.
The music video of Lambi" tells a story about a girl living her days in regret inside her gloomy mind.
Atila Lairikyengbam was approached by Edwin to cast in the video after noticing her talent. Edwin also worked with Atila is a music video of Leichil Mafol previously. Bishunath Laishram was first introduced in Lambi as an actor.
Edwin then decided to give more preference in this video to the lighting. 60% of the scenes were specifically coloured in red, blue, and yellow to give them a distinct look and to differentiate between her dream and her reality. To give a classic vibe, this time Edwin played with the aspect ratio of the video instead of colours. Through the video, only one costume was used for the lead actress throughout the video to set forth her unchanged and consistent thoughts.
Parthona Phukan: Meetam created a wave of awareness regarding the LGBTQ community and the entire team was even felicitated by Ya_All. Is there anything you want to tell people regarding the LGBTQ stereotypes that exist in society?
Solace Her: We were so excited and happy when we got a call from Ya_All since it was not expected at all and received much love from them. We knew we will probably get backlash from the audience because of the theme of the video but we were lucky enough to receive more positive responses rather than negative ones. Where is the beauty of sunshine without a little rain, right?
We must accept who we are, who they are, and shouldn’t be afraid of being ourselves. In our society, a brawl in the street is preferable to holding hands and hugging in public. The problem itself starts from there. But that said, we are seeing changes in vast numbers and we believe it is a good sign.
Parthona Phukan: Does Solace Her provide a platform for the youth who are interested in music?
SH: Analysing from various social media platforms, Tamna Tamna was covered widely by different people from different backgrounds and it was also the most covered Manipuri song on YouTube.
We have heard about bands formed by teenagers in Manipur, inspired by us. It's incredible that our songs are loved by so many people and that our works inspire so many.
It’s the best gift one can ever give and the best reward we will ever receive.
ALSO READ | Sampaa: A Manipuri Band That You Should Listen
Parthona Phukan: Tell something about the shows and live performances that you have been a part of.
SH: After releasing Tamna Tamna, we performed again at Manfete Rock Show as a guest band. The fest was organised by the Manipur University students. It was overwhelmed to see the big crowd as compared to the one before releasing our debut single. It was exciting to sing along with our song and performed with the crowd for the very first time.
We got a chance to perform at many gigs and beautiful events around Manipur throughout the year, such as Where Have All The Flowers Gone?, New Earth, Kwatha Festival, Cosplay Convention, RESO, Fenomenon, etc.
Performing live shows is an addiction especially when you experienced the wonder of singing along your original tracks with the crowds.
We don’t participate in any rock competition except for the first one before the complete lineup because we believe music is an art and not a sport so participating in a competition is meaningless.
Parthona Phukan: How would you like to describe your music?
SH: Our early music was a blend of indie rock and alternative, but we are now inclined towards southern rock and grunge, at the same time keeping our music authentic and raw.
Parthona Phukan: Every music video you make has a message, would you also want to convey any message through this interview?
Solace Her: Promote local artists and be original. Practising and making art doesn’t have to depend on expensive materials every time. All it takes is creativity, logical thinking, and dedication.