Throwback Thursday: Ten musicians from the North East you cannot afford to miss
The North East of India is home to beautiful sights, rich cultures, and wildlife galore. What makes this region so enchanting is the fact that it has remained largely untouched. Not only are its natural wonders undiscovered by most of India, but its music too remains largely unnoticed by mainstream audiences. Not that we need a reason, but ahead of the Manipur Elections, we ended up taking a musical trip down memory lane.
And so, we bring to you ten musicians from this region who should definitely find a place in your playlist.
Lorenzo Zonunmawia Fanai, aka G'nie
Lorenzo Zonumawia Fanai’s day job may be that of an editor, but by night, this artist from Aizawl is a rapper. After falling in love with music at a tender age, he took a liking to hip-hop at the age of 15 and began writing his own lyrics. At 20, he began combining these lyrics with rhythm. His songs have words from English and his native language, and he employs dubstep and rock drums in his music as well. G’nie is considered a sensation in his hometown.
Lou Majaw has been called India’s Bob Dylan by many, but he refuses to call himself a fan of the Nobel Laureate. Often seen performing on stage in shorts, his white hair let down, completely at ease with his guitar, this musician is one of the oldest from the North East. He is 70 years old and remains one of the most well-known artists from Shillong. He discovered Dylan only later in life; infact his early influences were Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, and the Beatles.
If you enjoy the soothing music of a piano, you should add Nise Meruno to your playlist. This artist, who has had the honour of performing for dignitaries such as the president and prime minister of the country, first sat at the piano at the age of six. Meruno’s connection with classical music is deep-rooted; his great-grandmother was trained by missionaries to play the piano, and his father is a classical guitarist. He also does covers of artists such as Ed Sheeran.
Voodoo Child shares the same name as a Jimi Hendrix song, so it comes as no surprise that their genre of choice is classic rock. Vocalist Rittique Phukan writes songs, plays the guitar and drums, while Jim Ankan Deka is on the keys and guitar, Rajib Hazarika is on lead guitar, and Bobo Bardoloi on bass. This four-piece band from Guwahati has been around for about 15 years, and opened for the first international band that has performed in the state of Assam, Michael Learns to Rock. They have four singles and often perform covers of songs by the band Credence Clearwater Revival.
This four-piece band from Mizoram defines their musical style as “junk”; a combination of jazz, funk and punk. With Boom on the guitar, Atea on vocals, Rsa on drums and Joshua on bass, this group has been belting out tunes since 2005. After jamming together to create covers of Rage Against the Machine songs, they decided to form a band. Their songs are uplifting and energetic.
The Vinyl Records
The Vinyl Records is an all-girl band from Arunachal Pradesh, with spunk in their songs and videos. Seven years ago, Banu Jini, Minam Tekseng and Mithy Tatak came together to write songs about feminism and life in the capital city. They began out as a school band and vocalist Cheyyrian Bark joined them last year. Their influences range from The Ramones to Arctic Monkeys and even Blondie. There are hints of psychedelic rock and anarchy in their music.
This band’s name is a reference to the Biblical character Mary Magdalene, and they play Christian Rock. Vocalist Steward, guitarist Victor dA scavenger, drummer Pate-a, and bassist PB-a started this Mizoram-based band in 2005. They have been the winners of several college-level rock band competitions, and their songs have soulful lyrics. They make gospels sound cool.
Rock-fusion band Abiogenesis hails from Nagaland and infuses a local folk flavour in its music. Moa Subong, Arenla Subong, Kora and Akiu describe their sounds as ‘Howey Music’ and say that they blend aggressiveness, experimentation and melody. This band is known to use the unique wind musical instrument ‘banhum’ which has been made out of bamboo by Moa Subong himself. Their singles Whispering Mountains and Voices in Kisama are popular and they also do covers of artists like Janis Joplin.
Minute of Decay
Imphal girls and sisters Worshon, Singchon and Thotyaphy Muivah formed Minute of Decay about six years ago, and since then, this indie/funk band has played at venues across the country and has been featured on a BBC radio exclusive interview. They have created covers of artists like the Noisettes, but their single Little Betsy is the most popular.
Imphal Talkies and The Howlers
This Manipur-based folk-rock band is best known for their protest music, and they have raised a voice against issues ranging from the AFSPA law, the condition of the environment, political tyranny and its effect on the lives of children. They are a four-piece band with Akhu Chingangbam on vocals and guitars, Sachidananda Angom on the guitar, Irom Singthoi on percussions, Karnajit Laishram on bass and Chaoba Thiyam on pena.To get a taste of the dissent in their songs, listen to Mr. President is Coming.