Nov 6, 2014

29 bands Selected to compete in Hornbill International Rock Contest 2014

After harrowing – the good kind – months of auditions and screening, not to mention weeks of sleep-deprivation, we are delighted to announce 29 brilliant bands from across the subcontinent to compete in the 2014 edition of the Hornbill International Rock Contest.

The judges, panel of selectors, and organizers of this year’s music festival, Nagaland Outdoors Club (NOC) and Sky Entertainment, are indeed more than gratified that this time the musical staple for music fans will be entirely different – and awesome.

Musicality is not always the same as what is artistic; nor is technicality defined by either musicality or creativity alone. The perfect broth is the one that contains all the three elements – and presented professionally. We believe that this time around, the bands that we have selected will have all of it.

The three themes of musicality i.e., melody, technical proficiency, and artistry, characterize most of the bands who will be performing. The menu is from the blues to protest, Indian Carnatic to the metal ‘80s, pop rock to post-rock. We have it all for you.  

The shortlisted bands include four from Nagaland, and scores from the North East Region and as far as Bangalore and Chennai. The details of the selected bands are as under:
Name of the band

For two straight days from morning to evening on October 31 to November 1, the judges / selectors Andrew Ngullie, Abemo Enyie, and Thejove Medeo sat down and endured endless hours o video footage, audio, and unhealthy doses of debating (and the occasional quarrel) about which band deserved a slot. Creative personnel and leaders of NOC and Sky Inc., were present during the musical brainstorming.

(L-R) Veteran guitarists Andrew Ngullie, Abemo Enyie, and Thejove Medeo seen here screening the bands in the panel's rockhouse den in Kohima. Thejove - former guitarist of Divine Connection - seems to be saying, "Well, where's the food?"

The pioneering musicians then fished out a list, which we, NOC and Sky Entertainment, now assure that you are going to have the time of your life when the music begins on the evening of December 4, in Kohima. Be there.
For further details and clarifications, please contact our A&R Manager Khriesazo Liezietsu, at the phone number +91 9615170264. For those of you wishing to stay updated on Facebook please visit us at our official page

NOC & Sky Incorporated
Hornbill International Rock Contest 2014
Nagaland, India

Aug 26, 2014

Hornbill Music Festival & International Rock Contest, 2014: India's biggest purse for rock

To the people of Nagaland and the Naga Diasporas, and followers of the aesthetics across the  world, we invite you to share in our delight in announcing the preparations for the 2014 edition of the Hornbill Music Festival & International Rock Contest, the biggest music competition in the subcontinent. 

We, Nagaland Outdoors’ Club (NOC) and Sky Entertainment, are delighted to announce to you the edition, and pitch you a package of excitement, fun and celebrations that we are specially preparing. 

We are readying a memorable experience just for you. This time too, your favorite one million rock music-face-off brings you not only the week-long customary festivities from December 4 to the 10th, but also a celebration of music that pays tribute to artistry and class at par with international sensibilities, anticipation, and presentation. 

Dear musicians, please start brushing up your mettle: You will be fighting for your musical life thanks to inflexible competition that bands from across North East India, India, and abroad, will offer you. 

You will be vying for the biggest prize cache in the country’s music world. We will be announcing the details for registration, audition season, and rules & regulations very soon.

Here is a refresher on the prize  money: 
  • First prize: INR 10, 00,000
  • Second prize: INR 5, 00,000
  • Third prize: INR 3, 00,000
  • Individual prizes: INR 30,000
However, there is more; this time, we bring you a different kind of different: we have an experience of a lifetime readied just for you to add to your celebration. Besides the competition – which has attracted competitors from fellow Indian states Delhi to all the way from Australia – there will be two rock legends whose momentous works have yet to be experienced live in this side of the Atlantic: British greats Smokie and American guitar god Vinnie Moore

Yes, we present you Smokie and Vinnie Moore just for your listening pleasure – live. They will be talking to you too, dear bands and fans, soon. Watch this space. 

Besides the competition, we will also be presenting to you live performances from some of the finest bands and artists from across Nagaland and the North East Region. The Music Task Force (MTF) of the Government of Nagaland has selected the management of NOC and Sky Entertainment to manage the Hornbill International Music Festival and Rock Contest for this year. 

The joint management consists of highly experienced social entrepreneurs, businesspersons, media professionals, and event managers who have not only made a mark in their respective fields but also in entertainment and show business. 

We shall be updating you with the latest through the media. One may also check for updates on our events page ‘Hornbill Music Festival & International Rock Contest’ on Facebook.

We appeal to every musician and music fan, well-wisher, and the state’s media community to  come and partner with us to not only make the event a success, but also a memorable experience that would define standards of artistry and entertainment. Come, be a part of the celebration, the experience. 


NOC & Sky Incorporated,
Hornbill Music Festival 2014

For more information please follow the link to the event's Facebook page

Jun 27, 2014

Backyard Buzz: Music Television reaches Nagaland's performers

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

Backyard Buzz Nagaland
(From left) Rapper Imli Lee will host Backyard Buzz. President of Native Trax Society Naro Aonok, and hubby Mengu, the director of Events, are the head honchos here. I don't know who the bird at Mengu's left is except for her name: Amen Longchar, general secretary of the group.  

My Wishlist for Backyard Buzz:

Wish #1 Promote good music, not 'Naga' music
  • 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. 

    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 leveltrust 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 h
    euristic 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?         
All said, here's to Backyard Buzz, and to Mr & Mrs. Mengu, and Imlee. Now, who took the remote?

Apr 19, 2014

Bangkok rocker Kilang Pongen out with Good Friday single

I'm all too privileged to 'announce' Kilang Pongen's Good Friday Single 'Beautiful Love' (YouTube) released on Friday, April 18. Yeah, Jesus rocks!

Most of you know the former Faith (Patkai Christian College fame), and former Heritage frontman who is now based in Bangkok as a worship leader, a philanthropist, and of course being the good old rocker he has always been.

Kilang Pongen – the Naga rock dude thing from Mokokchunghas been busy running through Bangkok’s rock scene for several years now.

Before better winds flew him to one of Asia’s most vibrant music industries, Kilang was this geeky looking front man of a rock band called Faith. And then, singer of a popular Dimapur rock group called Heritage. Kilang Pongen decided he wasn’t going to do much of the noisy things anymore.

So he went ahead solo and released his debut solo album ‘Breakthrough’ (2004) – arguably one of the first and finest examples of original, professional rock music production in NorthEast India.

Two tracks from Breakthrough were selected to be on ‘Think Again,’ India's first ever Christian Rock compilation released around 2005. Another track, the classic metal anthem ‘Miracle’ was featured on another all-India compilation ‘Awake & Arise - A Musical Tribute to Life.’ After ‘Breakthrough,’ Kilang went on a tour across the state, and the Northeast region and the mainland as well as in Nepal and Thailand. 

Divine Connection and Alobo Naga & The Band owe their hallowed noise-making run to Kilang Pongen. It is the economics here, and the market a popular musician could contribute to creating.  

Today, Pongen is based in Bangkok in Thailand racking up good dust. And he is digging up gold: A guy called Brett Clarke – who has produced and worked with some musicians called Amy Grant, Metallica, U2, Jewel, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban or even a girl called Carrie Underwood –  produced and played in Kilang’s second album ‘Kilang.’ Another heavy puller Paul Hudson (oh, not Mr. Die Hard himself) is helping Brett Clarke and Kilang crank up the shindig.

Write to the man at: Just don't spam him. You can support our musicians by sharing the video and spreading the word. 

PS: Kilang, thank you for giving me the first peek. You're now on my wedding card list. All the best. Keep rocking and go give 'em heaven.    

Apr 15, 2014

Tetseo Sisters: One Pretty Up for Naga Music

And why the group has started beating Alobo Naga & The Band and Divine Connection’s stats

The Tetseo Sisters are truly a talented bunch – they can make you pant and drool by the buckets simultaneously with engendering into your empty rock head a healthy appreciation for folk music.

Eastern Panorama, the news and lifestyle publication from North East India was surely felled too, when it handed out an award to the four musicians recently.  

900 million years ago, in 2011, a group of terrifyingly pretty females from Kohima released an album called “Li Chapter One: The Beginning”.

The girls handed me a CD. I was with The Morung Express that time playing this star journalist thing, and too busy to fall for any feminine weapons of lass distractions.

I spun the CD. 

I wasn’t impressed; the album was nothing more than just another shrilly village-feminist-muscle-flexing ethos-pretending, folklore-exploiting steaming pile of bullkitsch.

In fact, I would call the sisters’ debut the original Alobo Naga & The Band album – full of Hey-Heyos, but empty in musical Brios.   

The meeting at Jumping Bean

Tetseo Sisters, Nagaland Music
The Tetseo Sisters (© 2014 Image)
Later in 2012, I met the four girls during a Jumping Bean event. We sat down over a cup of coffee. So there you have the Tetseo sisters: full of legs, full of red lipsticks (or what do you call it?), full of short skirts, and full of pretty. I sat; they sat down surrounding me.

So, I was like “Thank you, I hope you do not have the IQ of a cabbage like most pretty heads do, because I normally like to pretend to be a genius and focus on something else more important and do stuff my way like, staring at the wall.”

But, holy goat, they were nice. I mean they were quite unassuming. Like, they did not project themselves to be warriors of a new folk revolution.

Note: There are some deluded scallywags in the local music scene in Nagaland who believe their selves to be saviors of the recession-stricken music world.
In return for that courtesy, I use their CDs as coasters, or scrappers to clean the sink whenever I do the dishes at home (Yep dude, real men also know how to cook and do the fudging dishes).

Let me hand you this. Alobo Naga, singer of Alobo Naga and The Band, is one of the humblest persons I know. Many of his songs are nothing but septic tank material of the purest kind. But, he is one person you will love – and you’d even buy his CDs for his humility.  But Alobo is one of the bare naked exceptions. Many local singers walk on the stratosphere.

Mercifully, the sisters were unassuming and were not throwing around some diva gobbledygook. (I am glad they didn’t, because I enjoy giving major sorrow to pompous people who spoil my days). 

Anyhow, unlike the curry-headed musicians, the sisters seemed OK. In fact, they were humble, perhaps even a little embarrassed? Anyhow, as I peered at the four female species before me in Jumping Bean who quietly offered me their perspectives about the music they create.

I thought, ‘Hmm maybe I ought to give em a break’ or sumthin.

So here were the members of TS: big sister Mercy Mütsevelü Tetseo, former rock chick Azi Tetseo, baby sister Kuvelü Tetseo and babier sister Lulu Tetseo.

They were an eyeful, trust me. No wonder people never really gave a flying beep about their debut. You have four eye-poppers in front of you and you think you have time to appreciate music? Go find a job, you sleazy psycho creep.

We sat and chatted. We conversed about the conventions of traditional Chakhesang folk music. We exchanged ideas about contemporary interpretations of folk traditions, the poetry in them and how the group tries to apply the ideas of folklore musically.

It was a good conversation. These female of the species had brains. Hallelujah.

Back at my desk at home, I salvaged ‘Li Chapter One: The Beginning’ from somewhere under a mountain of shoes, clothes, old underwear, cassettes, old tooth brush, hair gel tubes, and ancient unwashed dishes. I played the album again. Their music didn’t sound too bad now that my perception about folk music made in studios had no longer played on aesthetic presumptions.    

I reviewed one of their entries for the Nagaland Music Awards for the category folk music in 2012 too. They deserved a push for the entry, of course. Folk music, or in this case, the sisters themselves, all makes sense now. Why and how they create what they create sounds quite sensible no matter what opinions people may have about “local culture” music.  

Certainly, I’ll go for their second album when they pitch it. I only hope the next album would be a better production.

What makes them different?  

Tetseo Sisters, Nagaland Music, Al Ngullie
The sisters are slowly making their presence felt in the media  

The Tetseo Sisters are probably one of the few musicians in Nagaland who don’t really shout at the world about the state of the music industry (ugh. I hate that pompous, audacious, deluded, misplaced term) in Nagaland. I have been observing that. They don’t gather up their skirts and run for the nearest cover when people start shooting barbs. Far less, they do not take criticism seriously.  

They sisters do not gripe all the time. They do what they can. They blog and write or attend events, and socialize to increase their visibility; they promote their music through social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and music stream websites et al. That’s hard work when you don’t have a company promoting you.    

Neiphiu Rio Vs Alobo Vs Tetseo Sisters: Fame Statistics

All right, Keep reading, we will come to the ‘What makes them different’ section again. Hold on to your dear skirts, it is my Bragging Brag Rights time now:

During 2006-2009, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, novelist Easterine Iralu, and I were the only three Nagas enjoying the biggest search on the internet particularly on Google Keyword index and Yahoo, than any other Naga in Nagaland or the NE region then. Mr. Rio has about 80, 000 to 1 lakh searches per year; Miss Iralu had about 60, 000 to 90,000 searches per year, and (Ahem! Ahem! Wheezecough!) I had about 50, 000 to 80,000 searches per year.     

It was much prior to the Alobo Nagas and The Divine Connections personalities arriving on the scene.  

(Plain Tech Speak: If you have a high search index, you have … hmmm… a somewhat sizeable population of people searching for you, or your works on the internet etc)

During 2011 and 2013, when Alobo Naga & the Band went to VH1 and Divine Connection won the MTV rock show, the two briefly surpassed us on the search ranking.

During 2011-2012 AN &TB’s and DC’s search index in total was about 1 lakhs per month! One of the highest regional search trends on Google in India then – that is super famous! Or maybe India just so happened to have the second largest mass of people on planet Earth after the rabbit-crazy China. Don’t forget that even most Asian music stars don’t enjoy that much attention on normal market days.

But now, in 2014, AN&TB and DC’s Google streak has decreased rapidly. Alobo Naga’s index has fallen to around a measly 840 search per month (Bleh*). (Please check Google keyword search tool. After the company changed the webmaster tool recently, the numbers seem to have turned truant)   

Back to the ladies

Back to the topic, so I was stating that the Tetseo Sisters do not nag like hags but do what they can, right? Over the past couple of years, they have taken every opportunity without complaint, thus building their fan base and visibility gradually.

Today, the Tetseo Sisters are starting to beat every other Naga musician’s stats. For instance, at this time, the Tetseo Sisters’ search index has grown from about 1, 000 in 2012 to around 15, 000 in 2014 – which is 7 times more than the number of search queries for our local Baritone hero Nise Meruno. Strange indices – because there are some people that consider Meruno a bigger star than any other Naga musician on the solar system.    

If the momentum continues, the girls are going to whip Alobo’s behind, at least in terms of visibility on the internet. Considering there are more internet connections in Nagaland than the entire copy of newspaper circulation in the state put together, that's serious sheek.      

: I’m not a musician, just in case you are wondering how I figure in Google search trends with all this talk about this music and that music. 

The Eastern Panorama award

On Monday, Eastern Panorama honored a number of individuals and organizations for their contribution to various pursuits, particularly in the field of education, sports, music and the arts, and entrepreneurship. Home Minister of Meghalaya Roshan Warjri gave away the awards. The Tetseo Sisters were honored with an award for contribution to music.

Given, that the award is not the WMAs. Yet, considering that Nagaland has nothing even faintly offering an impression of industry, the few roses that come our way just might lead to bigger things. Griping makes a great thorn in the flesh.

And I do believe the sisters deserve the award. Pretty or ugly. Hiyohey.