Local boy rocks as solo guitarist

By Prasanta Phukon

At 27, Pragya Hang Limbu has already made a name for himself as a guitarist. From jamming with friends in Shillong to cooling off in the city’s cafes, growing up listening to Native Rules, Soulmate or Plague Throat, Pragya has come a long way.
Though he was born in Darjeeling, Pragya grew up in the hill city. When it comes to talking about his musical journey, the young guitarist credits Shillong for introducing him to “extraordinary music” in the nineties and early 2000.
“Actually, it was my mother who introduced me to rock music at a very young age. I met Andreas Rani, who currently plays in the metal band Last Train to Paradise, during my school days in Shillong and we formed a band at the age of 16. I still remember going to gigs and seeing groups like The Verbs, Native Rules and Soulmate,” says Pragya, adding that his mother was always supportive and encouraging and she “believes that music can be a career option”.
Pragya Hang Limbu and Andreas Rani connected through music and were often pulled up in school for drumming the desk. In 2008, they formed Astitva and roped in a female singer, Priya Limbu. The band became the second runner-up in a local competition the same year. Rani won the title of Best Drummer.


Pragya was part of many local bands like Dead Note and Dividing Dreams as well as from Darjeeling. He also has an EP(Swatantra) to his credit. On his best compositions so far, Pragya mentioned ‘Mrityu’ (the fifth track in the EP) that he had recorded with Darjeeling-based Nepali Rock Band ‘People Who Reacted’ last year.
“I think it’s one of my best works lyrically, concept and melody wise. The song talks about the cycle of life and death, a soul’s desire to escape from it,” he says.
The guitarist — who plays various genres like glam and classic rock, alternative, blues and funk — was “highly inspired by The Tibetan Book of the Dead while writing the song”.
Swatantra has five of his original numbers. Between 2013 and 2017, he recorded four singles with different line-ups. “Some of my compositions did not even see the light of day. But I believe in dedication and perseverance,” he confesses.
Pragya has performed in Hornbill festival and wishes to collaborate with artistes like Amitabh Baruah of Lucid Recess. Guitarist Guthrie Govan and Singer/Songwriter Steven Wilson are his idols. He asserts that the biggest challenge for an artiste is to find a committed musician.
Talking about rock music in Shillong, Pragya says the genre has lost some popularity “because of the changing lifestyle”.
“The environment we live in plays a huge role in influencing us into listening to a certain genre of music. I grew up in the early nineties when punk rock bands such as Green Day, Good Charlotte, Blink 182, Simple plan, etc were at their peak. Also, a few of us were rebels and against everything conventional. So we could relate to the punk culture,” he explains about the changing environment of music.
Pragya does not know how long he will be a solo artiste and says if it hadn’t been music, it would have been writing or travelling.
“But young musicians should be dedicated and disciplined if they have to prove their mettle in this industry. They should keep their ears open to new sounds and new forms of music. I would also request my friends and followers to support me as I go into a new phase of my career as a solo singer/songwriter,” says the musician.

Image courtesy: Pragya Limbu

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