While we don’t tend to get too fired up about acoustic folk around here (needs more synth toms imho), we do make an exception under circumstances: it has to really bum us the hell out. “Carry Me, Home” from Portland’s Vikesh Kapoor fits the bill. It’s that rare banjo jam of these Mumfordian times that doesn’t need to strum itself into a frenzy to sell the drama, instead letting the bucolic tone do its subtle alchemy of melancholy. The song, from his The Ballad of Willy Robbins, is available for pre-order now.
We asked Kapoor to share some photos and tell a few stories about where he comes from to find out more where his songs were born.
“This is rural Pennsylvania, where I grew up. This photo reminds me how quiet it is here, how the emptiness, the vastness, the woods make you confront yourself. Most things that seem significant in my current life tend to fall by the wayside when I visit this place and I’m left with the truth. For me, there’s comfort in that process and the refrain of “Carry Me Home” speaks to it.
“This is me in Oregon in the apartment that I’ve lived alone in for the last three years. After leaving most everything familiar to me 3000 miles away, similar to my parents when they immigrated, I felt an acute loneliness that was crippling. That feeling still creeps in sometimes when I’m in this apartment. Though I spend less and less time here now, removing myself from comfort was instrumental in forcing me to face my fears, find answers to why I left, and get to work.” Photo by Parker Fitzgerald
“I took this photo of my father on the roof of the house he grew up in Bihar, India. Surrounding us are the slums. On this trip I was coming of age and decided to pursue songwriting in an effort to say something of significance. The idea for my first song – a protest song- was born on this roof and would later be the one I sang at Howard Zinn’s memorial service. That song, “Ballad of a King,” was inspired by a man that my father went to grammar school with and who became a false prophet of sorts, spreading his faulty gospel and intimidating villagers. He built an ivory tower just down the road with speakers atop it, similar to a mosque. Day and night, he and his followers would preach lies to the people through the speakers, like some bullshit megaphone. My father and mother left India and immigrated in the early 70s, sacrificing an insurmountable amount to do so. They’re a true inspiration and in many ways this album is written to them.”
“My debut album The Ballad Of Willy Robbins is inspired by a newspaper article. I’d taken off time from school and decided to work as a mason’s apprentice in Beacon Hill, a neighborhood in Boston. I had just started writing folk songs and thought a newspaper was a good place to look for story ideas. On my lunch break in Boston Common I came across an article about a construction worker that got injured so bad he lost everything. It resonated with me and I held onto it. I didn’t last long in masonry, but the story (pictured here) led me to the collection of songs on my debut LP. ”
“Traveling is something that is natural to me and enriches my connectedness to people, especially since I spend much of my time alone. My tour manager snapped this picture on a recent tour over the summer. We slept overnight in sleeping pods in the desert right outside of Joshua Tree National Park. It was a calm, windless night; we could hear the coyotes howling and the moon spilled over the rocks. That night I dreamt about a spirit that came to me in the shape of a light-haired woman in a white dress and I wrote a song for her in the morning. Moments like this one make me grateful for the world around me.” Photo by Tyler Maxwell Bussey
“This fawn died after hitting my car head-on at 70 mph when I was in Pennsylvania visiting my family in between tours. She landed here next to these daisies and to me it’s an achingly beautiful photo for a fucked up moment. Avoiding harm in sudden, traumatic events like this one oftentimes jerk us back to life, yet remind us that we’re not here forever. The car was totaled and the airbags cut my hand open into the shape of a T, like a road with two diverging paths. I looked at the cut and thought it’s about time to choose a path and not waste any time here.”
More from Kapoor, and current tour dates here.
Photos by Kapoor unless noted.