Teesta Troupers' Debut Album Echoes The Earnest Resilience & Strength Of Their Homeland

The Teesta Troupers are a group of vibrant musicians and writers.
The Teesta Troupers are a group of vibrant musicians and writers.Teesta Troupers

This is the story of a positively radiant creative journey born out of a tiny jam room below a garage on the Teesta highway in Sikkim. It all began when a group of vibrant and young musicians, writers, and rappers, who calls themselves the Teesta Troupers, came together. The band comprises Daniel, Manoj aka MJ Humble, Anil aka Mr Anix, and Ashish.

The socio-economic conditions of Teesta have had a major influence in shaping the band’s journey. Post-pandemic, due to unemployment, labor exploitation and lack of opportunities and exposure, a major part of the youth population in Teesta had taken recourse to drugs as a coping mechanism. Consequently, this has also led to an increase in suicide rates in the region. Life was tough and like the members of Teesta Troupers, most of the young people were working day jobs in the quarry, as rafters, construction workers and also writing music on the side. They were looking for a creative space where they would be able to gather, learn, and express themselves.

An aerial shot of the band's hometown
An aerial shot of the band's hometownTeesta Troupers
The highway overlooking the Teesta River
The highway overlooking the Teesta RiverTeesta Troupers

Siddhant Tamang, a dear friend of the band and an aspiring musician was at the forefront of iterating the importance of having such a space. He believed that a creative space would be a beacon of hope for the youth of the region, who were struggling and becoming increasingly disillusioned. However, tragedy struck and before Siddhant’s dream was realized, they lost him when he took his own life in January of 2021.

Regrettably, Siddhant could not live to see how his vision was realized through the birth of the Teesta Creative Space. Ashish's mother had a spare room below their garage. She gave it to the four of them free of cost, to turn into a jam room. With a new coat of paint, mics, amps, and a drum kit, they set up the Teesta Creative Space that year. The space was flung open for young folks from the area to come, jam, write, and collaborate.

The Teesta Creative Space
The Teesta Creative SpaceTeesta Troupers

The four of them were already writing songs, but with the inception of the new space, they began to collaborate as the Troupers. They chose their band name as a tribute to their homeland and also to incorporate the word-play on ‘troopers’ and ‘troupe’ — they are strong as soldiers and can overcome any difficult circumstances, but at the same time they are also a troupe of performers.

Recently members of Gauley Bhai, Anudwatt, Sidhant, and Joe, jammed with the Teesta Troupers, and together they produced their debut album Sound of Streets. The album is dedicated to Sidhant and all the young folks who reside in the Teesta Highway Region. The songs burst with infectious energy fusing Nepali rap with warm electric guitar riffs, laid-back percussions, and ambient electronic scapes. When I heard the album for the first time, even though I did not understand the lyrics, it appealed to me from the perspective of the universal language of music. But it was only when upon deeper exploration and reading the translation of the lyrics, that the songs hit me harder. The words are poetry giving the listeners a window into the authentic versions of not just their artistry but who they are as people. It organically explores their homeland, dreams, hopes, aspirations, loss, family, and the hardships of daily life.

The Teesta Troupers are a group of vibrant musicians and writers.
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The launch of this wonderful album arrives in the aftermath of the flash flood in October 2023, where their region suffered immensely. Their beloved jam room was washed away but that has not deterred their spirits. They are continuing to find ways to make music. So tune in to this album and support young homegrown artists who are staying true to their craft, even against insurmountable odds.

Find out more about the Teesta Troupers here.