From dressing as Fred Flinstone and running on to the stage, to accidently cussing on the mic, Ronit Sarkar reveals all his awkward moments. Oh, and he also talks about his new album!
Pop singers, especially of the indie variety, have this remarkable ability to concoct fashionable and mostly double-hyphenated genre names to describe their music. It’s almost always everything but pop. So it’s instantly reassuring to find a singer who doesn’t give a shit about those things and own his pop status with pride. “I've always loved pop music, so it's all good,” says Ronit Sarkar aka Awkward Bong.
But the 23-year-old, who has just released his debut album, titled In The Brightest Corners, wasn’t always a happy poppy singer. Not so long ago, he was part of the punky noise factories Blek and The Lightyears Explode. So how did the solo project come along, I ask him. “It came out of me finally deciding to record and put out song's I'd been writing since around college. I had a couple of months free in 2013, so I decided to record the EP then, and Awkward Bong sort of happened out of that,” he says.
Photo: Parizad D
So how awkward is Awkward Bong? He responds with a laugh. “I've always been really socially awkward. It's not so bad now, but it's still there in bits. It's just how I am, I guess,” he says. It is still there. When I ask him about what he thinks his biggest asset as a performer is, he seems a little, erm, awkward. “I'm not really sure,” he says, “Maybe the simple, organic pop-ness?”
Ronit’s songs, all of them, are breezy melodies that you can enjoy at any point of the day. A lot of hard work has gone into crafting them for sure, and time. The whole of last year, actually. “Writing started for this all the way back in January, but production began in September, and recording was over November and December,” informs the singer, who also released two videos of his songs – ‘You don’t have to hide’ and ‘Golden’ last week. The videos are pretty much DIY and were put together thanks to a “bunch of friends who were very generous with their time.”
I am kinda liking this whole awkwardness business. So I can’t resist probing him further about it. What has been his most awkward moment as a kid? “Once, ages ago at a local fair, I dressed up as Fred Flintstone, ran on stage, screamed "Yabba dabba doo!" into the mic, and ran off stage with my arms locked to my sides.” That qualifies as strange. And what about his most embarrassing stage experience? “Ah, I was playing this super mellow song at an acoustic gig once, and out of nowhere, I played the wrong chord in the end, and just swore damn loudly into the mic. I guess it turned out to be more funny than awkward, really.”
Ronit might have a more solid solo identity now than before, but he still writes his songs with the band. “Just the skin and bones, the basic melodies and lyrics are what I write alone. I much prefer the band scene over the solo scene, actually,” he admits. So who all are in the band? “Daniel Coutinho on guitar, Yohann Coutinho on bass and Linford D'souza on drums.”
All the awkwardness aside, the past week has been quite something for the young man. “It was also the first time I got to take the record live with the band, as well as release the two music videos with Indies,” says Ronit, whose favourite artistes from the local circuit are Pentagram, Nischay Parekh, Sandunes, Sky Rabbit, Blek and The Lightyears Explode.
The cover of Awkward Bong's album, In The Brightest Corners
Since he’s a big pop lover, I suggest we do a quick pop rapid fire.
Favourite pop singer from the80s?
Favourite MJ song?
It's a tie between ‘Smooth criminal’ and ‘Earth song.’
Any female pop star that you idolise?
Nicki Minaj or Lady Gaga?
Lady Gaga, though Nicki Minaj has some pretty excellent features.
Her ass you mean?
Hahahaha not that way. Like, she's done some really good verses on other people's songs.
OMG! Okay, so which pop song is your go-to track for a bad day?
Anything by John Mayer or Norah Jones, really.
Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967 by John Mayer.
Is there any pop song that your girlfriend loves you to sing for her? I’m assuming you have a girlfriend.
Hahaha. No girlfriend right now. But the last 'private request' I got was for ‘Lollipop’ by Mika.
Where was that?
Some house party, I think; I might've even been drunk enough to try it.
That’s not awkward at all, I must say.
Cover image: Raya Sarkar