Originally from Shillong, Hammarsing moved to Bangalore to complete his plus two before shifting base to Delhi where he studied at St Stephens. After getting his degree in economics, he moved to Boston to join the Berklee College of Music. Once he finished, he moved to New York city.
He started his own band Mon Khmer in 2008. He has also toured the world with Albert Hammond Jr’s who is a well-known guitarist, singer, songwriter and music producer. Currently he is focussing on his solo project – Exhibition. He has been signed to Julian Casablancas’s Cult Records.
He released the Last Dance EP sometime in April of this year. The video for the song ‘No One There featuring Julian Casablancas’ was released recently.
Tell us a little about your latest EP.
The Last Dance EP was written after I finished a long tour with Albert Hammond Jr. I found myself with a lot of free time so I used it to work on my own music. I’m lucky to have a dear friend who I’ve worked with since my Berklee days, Jeremy Loucas, who helps me record and produce. He has a great room at the legendary Sear Sound Studio in NYC. We recorded, mixed and mastered everything there.
Tell us about your experience of working with Julian Casablancas.
Amazing! I feel very lucky having had a glimpse into his creative process. It was pure, exciting and fearless. However, it’s a miracle that we were able to get his vocals done. We had to drive to his house in Connecticut knowing that a blizzard was going to hit. Luckily the session went well and fast. We got back to NYC before the snow storm hit really hard. My girlfriend who is an amazing graphic designer and art director was the hero behind the wheels.
What do you think is different between pursuing a career in music in US and in India?
Difficult for me to answer this question as my experience has been only in the US. I do believe there are advantages and difficulties that are unique to each place and to each person. The universal rule is – You always have to give your best, challenge yourself and be disciplined (not my forte).
Comparison can be the thief of joy but it can also help clear the fog of envy. In the US, it’s easy to get swallowed in all the noise, things move very fast but there’s also a hunger for new things and originality is encouraged. I’m confident that Indian bands who can find a sound of their own will break into Europe, US, and Japan very soon. As nations start drawing new borders and isolating themselves, music will do the opposite.
What do you like to when you are not performing or writing?
I’m a big foodie and I am addicted to chillies. One of the best parts of living in NYC is the amazing range of food that one can find. Trying out new restaurants, cuisines and cooking for friends and family is what I love to do. When I come home to Shillong, hanging out with my parents and enjoying home food is my favourite thing to do. Nothing beats Northeastern food. I think about food way more than music.
Name one musician who you want to work with in the future
Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead
What’s next? What are you working on right now?
The Last Dance EP will be available worldwide on iTunes, Spotify, apple music etc. I have shows coming up this fall in NYC. Doing a tour of India is a dream that I hope to make a reality in the coming year.
I spent the summer finishing an album and I am happy to announce that we’ll be releasing it in early 2018 through Cult Records (US) and MAGNIPH (Japan). A limited number of copies will be printed on vinyl! It will be called Sad Eyes Happy Feet.
Photo: Andrew Segreti
As told to Meeta Borah