Somebody farted politely, and hundreds more guffawed loudly, when I wrote in my column in The Morung Express years ago that a television show offering Naga music will come along given the the local success of Divine Connection and Alobo Naga & The Band. Keep farting.
Am I glad that the Native Trax Society people have taken to television. On Thursday, the small Dimapur-based initiative announced a television show for local artistes. 'Backyard Buzz' will go on air at 6:PM, Saturday, June 28, on the Kohima band of Delhi Doordarshan. I'm told that the format would be conversations punctuated by music footage and videos a la MTV cam pitch.
The initiative is headed by rock couple Mengu Mepfhuo and Naro Aonok, a tenacious duo if you ask me. They've been promoting local musicians in the form of the annual Naga Music Awards for years now, even in the face of financial constraints, disinterested snobby Naga musicians, and typical Naga fartbags and naysayers alike.
Mengu is no guitar-handicapped too. He was with Dimapur rock outfit Native Raising for about 90 million years and sang like Bob Dylan until the stressful job forced him to get married to Aonok.
So then, what shall we expect from Backyard Buzz? Well, basically a lot conversations with Naga musicians from across Nagaland and the world, I'm told. The cheeky Mengu sent me an image on Whatsapp on Friday. I liked more the lovely female species in the photograph than the two male things gawping beside them, see? Women are very important for the world to survive, you know.
Mengu, Aonok, and I have worked together on two editions of Nagaland Music Awards; I was on their judges' panel for two years. I'm inspired that Mengu and Naro have long-forgotten how to giving up. I wish the humble and hardworking couple a successful endeavor.
There is another interesting face in Backyard Buzz: Rapper Imlee Lee, the guy who has a memorable alias in the style of 'Déjà vu.' The Dimapur-based musician will be hosting the show. He has won several regional music awards over a career spanning about 5 years now. He is a nice, humble guy, and the one from whom Alobo Naga copied his eeky Pork Pie hat. All the best, dawg.
The inaugural show will have who-else-but-currently-happening Alobo Naga, front-man of Alobo Naga & The Band. The government's Music Task force is sponsoring Backyard Buzz.
NTS invites musicians and bands in Nagaland to send their music videos for consideration and review. If you're hungry for information, please recharge your cell phone balance and call any of these numbers: 9856201694, 9436064289, and 9856819202.
Alternatively, take the literary approach and email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
My Wishlist for Backyard Buzz:
Wish #1 Promote good music, not 'Naga' music
- I hope the show features musicians who command creditable work. The reason why there are millions of Naga artistes selling, sharing, and peddling their albums and singles and videos everywhere, but barely making a cent out of it is this: we promote mediocre music in the name of supporting Naga musicians or Naga music. That's our favorite mistake since the past 15 years.
Promote artistry and quality, not music or musicians. Trust me, you wouldn't believe me for the world if I told you how many album copies two currently "major" artistes from Nagaland have actually sold. If only we knew what market parameters, industry trends, and social visibility were, we'd realize the world's actually different.
- We do not even have musicians who are viable and 'famous' at the national level―trust me, being in the newspapers and magazines can give you funny impressions about being "famous."
Fact is, a one-off limelight break is not the same as being really known and having a strong fan base that actually buys your CDs. Trust me, I know a little bit about the industry. I can give you 2 musicians each from Meghalaya and Mizoram who enjoy a bigger market and media presence than 5 Naga musicians put together who we think have rode the international horsey horse. There are many a mind among us who know better. So please spare us the fudging bullsfish, and do not go all-bosti during the show. Or your TV goes poof.
Wishlist #2 Don't go politically correct
- 'Your music video was saltwater crab.' 'Your single was pure bullsheikh.' How much do you make? What is the pay band for performing at government functions or weddings? How much does Music Task Force spend on you? What are your honest opinions about this-or-that? They say you cheated on your girlfriend, is it true? Can you read sheet music? They say you retched after two beers after the show, yes?
The objective here is not to qualify a question, or issue. The objective is to educate viewers and create real-world viewpoints for music lovers about their idols' careers, lives, and their perceptions.
True, some angles just might turn out controversial especially in unnecessarily sensitive and conservative societies such as ours. Like my mentors Akum Longchari and Along Longkumer, and my former editor Dee Nakhro, all agree: 'The Naga public is still media-illiterate and media-immature.' The public has no idea what they utter when they criticize the media when defining the roles of messenger, interpreter, and percolator. Hence, all in good frame here for Backyard Buzz to play a relevant role. Just talk the real stuff.
Wish #3 Focus on Bosti, But Go to City
- As stated, the Nagas are largely a community made up of bosti individuals who form a seemingly progressive society. The truth is, we are still a society that thinks wearing sunglasses make us progressive. We're a people that wave M.A.s and Ph.D's (even teachers) in everyone's fudging faces but still struggle with basic correct English. We drive expensive cars but reflect no knowledge of traffic rules. We talk about Global Warming but nobody bothers about our forests, and we still leave our garbage at every public spot.
I suggest you do not confine the show to what it qualifies; use others to qualify your show. There are many 'non-music' personalities (even non-Nagas) who are knowledgeable, experienced, and perceptible in the ways of the music industry.
In fact, if I may put it this way, some might even know much more than many from the current generation of Naga musicians. Government and community leaders, non-entertainment professionals and literary figures, and industry observers et al who possess more heuristic training and deeper experiential knowledge than most musicians around.
Engage and involve them, to make the learning process 2-way. Besides, isn't that a great way to increase viewership too, no?