Be it the songs of the cuckoo in the burst of daylight or the sound of the crickets on a lazy afternoon. Be it the KHULLANG ESHEI of Manipur or the BORGEET of Assam. Be it the notes of the UJUK TAPU of Arunachal Pradesh or the resonance of the colliding bamboos during the CHERAW DANCE of Mizoram. Be it the DHOL and PEPA of ASSAM or the GUITAR RIFFS at a concert in SHILLONG. MUSIC is everywhere in the Northeast. From ZIRO VALLEY to HORNBILL, Northeast India is all about music. In fact, here, music forms an integral part of the lives of the people.
Ambar Das, a renowned music producer and multi- instrumentalist who hails from Assam and currently based in Mumbai, quotes “Music like any other art form is dynamic and hence goes through constant change. We are opening up now and consequently the artists are also thinking more globally.” Manas Adhikary, guitarist of a Guwahati based experimental rock band, SWADHYAY, makes his point “The mass here is atleast a good music listener. But with the change in the lifestyles of our people so did change their taste in music and thereby the music scenario.” Ambar Das continues “Any form of art is difficult to sum up as good or bad since art is mostly subjective. But having said that, artists should concentrate on self development and leaving some good art for posterity rather than resorting to cheap gimmicks for instant and temporary fame. We should just be dedicated and devoted to what we truly believe in, and we will get the results one day.”
The diversity that exists in the music of North East is worth mentioning. Whether it be Folk and Tribal music, Rock and Roll, Hard Rock, Blues and Jazz and more recently the hip- hop, it is no doubt that the Northeast of India stands out in terms of the music diversity. Akash Deep Gogoi, another renowned musician/ bassist from Assam, based in Mumbai points out “The music scene today is not very encouraging for real musicians. Today’s music is more production oriented and the actual music content is very shallow.” He adds “However, independent rock and metal bands are doing a commendable job but they lack consistency and also don’t get the recognition which they actually deserve.” Manas Adhikary adds “Due to the change in the lifestyle of people and their change in the taste of music, there emerged many pubs and clubs in the city of Guwahati with LIVE ACT facilities and hence the demand for peppy numbers started to rise. The good part is that non-mainstream bands with ‘songs in stock’ are getting gigs in these pubs at least on a monthly basis. Also, the people are starting to understand the band concept and although at a slow rate, gigs are being organised across the city and with many event management groups and promoters, nowadays, our artists are being recognized.”
Muno Shiu, a young musician from Dimapur, Nagaland, is of the idea that the music in Northeast is still in the state of growth. “It is a tough choice to make it a profession.” “Just like everything else, Music has to evolve. There is the kind of music which doesn’t have a meaning and soul. As a musician we must be able to cope up with all kinds of situations.” adds Amborish Saikia, guitarist of EUPHORIA/ MO AND THE SHOOTING STARS.
Tana Doni, a metalhead from Arunachal Pradesh, guitarist of the band SACRED SECRECY shared his thoughts on the music scene of Northeast India “I believe that the music in Northeast has immense potential to become big and go shoulder to shoulder with the international artists on the international music circuit. If you want to explore new and fresh sound, Northeast will never disappoint you. But there are a few things the musicians of Northeast should consider giving a second thought such as getting blindly indulged in weed and booze. One more thing that really irritates me is that people think of metal musicians to be very extreme people. In my opinion it’s very immature. We aren’t extreme people. We are regular people with a different taste in music. We don’t have to justify ourselves to anyone. But if you are a true musician you need to respect all the genres of music. Different people have different likes and dislikes and we can coexist in this planet peacefully. I consider myself to be lucky that we are blessed with the gift of music.” Tana continues “Last but not the least, the Indian Metal Scene should consider including bands from Northeast on the list. ‘The Face of Indian Metal’ doesn’t have to be from Mumbai/Bangalore etc. I know you guys worked really hard to get a contract with the labels but hey! its no harm seeing your fellow musician getting some deserving platform.”
Akash Deep concludes “Most band members have a day job for their bread and butter and that’s one of the reasons they don’t sound very tight and lack consistency. If real music has to stay alive, we should stop over producing it and concentrate more on the content and composition otherwise everything in the future will become EDM and there won’t be any genuine musicians or music left.”
The city of Guwahati also hosts many upcoming young talents, one such talent being Nuini Langthasa( one in the featured image), a young musician who belongs to a small town Maibang in Assam. She has opened for Michael Angelo Batio at the THUNDERDOME music concert and is currently working on some interesting project with a few musicians of the city.
June 21st was not just any other day; it was a day for all the music worshippers across the world who were yearning for the rip-roaring evening to celebrate the World Music Day. An ambience of exhilarating crowd and joy could be felt in the GMCH auditorium. The evening thrilled with the set of mixed genre bands, who knew their job very well how to boost the crowd and accelerate the show with full power. The evening was getting finer as traditional folk musicians started to charm the crowd with their heart wrenching performance. It marked the rare dubiety about the amazing time relished by the artists. I am thankful to have attended it at the place where it all started- the beautiful city of Guwahati, Assam.
Let us continue worshipping music and keep promoting the music of Northeast India. For my fellow musicians, its a humble request to support the music of not only northeast but the whole of India by attending the regional gigs and buying the albums of the nationwide artists. As you see, the albums for which the musicians have spent a lot of effort and time( maybe years), doesn’t cost more than your NIKE T- shirt.