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A slice of Nagaland

Five artistes from the north-eastern state will take stage tonight, singing about love, crime against women and hats

They sing sweetly about men going off to war and their lovers waiting behind. If you think that’s an old-fashioned notion, it’s only because The Tetseo Sisters from Nagaland, who perform in the city today, are taking ancient Naga folk songs out of forgotten memories and redoing them in a special way. The Tetseo sisters — Mercy (32), Azi (31), Kuku (25) and Lulu (23) — sing in Chokri, a dialect from the Phek region in Nagaland. “We realised no one was doing this. As sisters, we had been singing together ever since we were children — at church or in school.

Alobo Naga
Alobo Naga

So, when we decided to do this professionally, we wanted to sing in Chokri,” says Mercy over the phone from Dimapur. Though their first album, Li Chapter One: The Beginning, which released in 2011 at the Hornbill Festival, was made up of traditional folk songs (Li means folk songs in Chokri), their EP, A Slice of Li, will be more contemporary. “The tune may be traditional, but the arrangement is different, and the lyrics are more modern, which we write ourselves.”

The Tetseo Sisters
The Tetseo Sisters

The sisters will be performing as part of the Nagafest today at blueFrog, which aims at putting some much-needed spotlight on musical talent from the Northeast. Also performing is Tuden Jamir, singer/songwriter, whose song, About a Hat (which talks of a hat and the girl who bought it), was nominated at the VIMA Asia Awards in Malaysia in 2014. Jamir says that the festival is a positive first step in getting the rest of India to get to know about Naga musicians. “The rest of the music scene in India is very different. But, travelling to Mumbai and playing there will make sure new ears hear us, and that’s always a good start,” says the 32-year-old. The artiste from Mokokchung, where they speak the Ao dialiect, though only sings in English, and his new album Pop Up Bubblehead will be out in 2016.

Tuden Jamir
Tuden Jamir

“I am heavily influenced by American pop singer, Ingrid Michaelson, who has a fun, poppy style, and easy lyrics. It’s all about capturing a moment — like About a Hat was — my friend just looked at me and joked, ‘I bought a new hat. Why don’t you write about that?’ and I did,” he adds.

Alobo Naga from Dimapur, 30, and his band also concentrate on writing about what they see around them — about hope and dreams and even crimes against women, as they believe their music can change people. Alobo, who quit a high-paying corporate job to start the band in 2011, and then went on to win the Best Indian Act at MTV Europe Music Awards, 2012, says that he doesn’t blame other Indians for not knowing their music. “India is too big and mostly people are busy listening to Bollywood. We may have a long way to go, but things are changing.”

Also performing is rock band The Colored Keys and indie-super group, We The Giants, which is made up of musicians from several different bands.

Where: blueFROG, Todi Mills, Lower Parel
When: Today, 9 PM -- 1 AM
Entry: Rs 300 -- Rs 500
Call: 61586158

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