Handmade Instruments & Songs Of The Earth - A Shillong Band Worth Listening To

Handmade Instruments & Songs Of The Earth - A Shillong Band Worth Listening To
Rida & The Musical Folks

[On 16th-19th January, 2019, Homegrown is throwing a first-of-its-kind music festival in Mumbai designed to celebrate the city’s vast and diverse music culture. Dive deep into a wide variety of dynamic workshops, exhibitions, curated tours, panels, pop-ups, performances and parties that promise to be inclusive of all kinds of tastes and people.

There’s something for everyone, click here to find what’s perfect for you.]

The recently-concluded edition of the ‘Happiest Music Festival’ NH7 Weekender was special for many reasons. American ambient pop band, Cigarettes After Sex crooned ‘Nothing’s gonna hurt you baby’ to crowds of fans who believed it, India’s original rock band Pentagram made its return to the stage after three long years and indie music from across the country resonated in the beautiful city of Shillong for the first time. Even as much of North-East India remains cut off from the rest of the country, it is heartening to see the beginnings of a gradual cultural exchange - we’re all synced through the waves of SoundCloud anyway. Meghalaya’s Rida Gatphoh and her band ‘The Musical Folks’ are definitely riding this wave and we’re thrilled.

The young, 30-year-old musician stands out in the indie music scene as the founder and lead singer of the band. Smashing ageism and breaking stereotypes, all the other members of ‘The Musical Folks’ are gifted musicians between the ages of 50 to 60 years old and, together, they put up traditional Khasi shows that motivate people to think about their actions towards the environment. Gatphoh, unlike her peers who enjoy reggae and hip-hop, has been brought up in an environment of poetry and traditional tunes and so, she was inspired to create melodies inspired by her surroundings, local music and history. Drawing inspiration from her mother, Preciously, who was a folk singer, Rida was part of many local bands even when she was much younger.

After graduating with a degree in Fashion Designing in Mumbai, Rida felt disconnected with her looming career in fashion. So she packed up her bags and made her way back home to Shillong. Journeying through the lush green Meghalaya, she hoped that by exploring her own villages, her own home, that she would be able to connect with her roots and be one with nature. Soaking in the sounds of Mother Earth - the wind rustling through the trees, chirping of birds and the rhythmic lashing of water against the rocks - she was inspired to create music and began to write and compose songs. Making friends on the way, Rida was able to encompass a troupe of musicians - from Risingbor Kurkalang, who plays the duitara maryngoh to Shaun Nonghuloo Morehead, the drummer and Ksing player - who shared her musical vision. Going back to a simpler time, the band even makes their own musical instruments from natural resources.

Marrying traditional tunes with lyrics and compositions that are contemporary, Rida hopes to create awareness about the importance of nature and how their collective actions are affecting the Earth. Talking to TheBetterIndia, she said “I insist on bringing the old and forgotten musical trends back into vogue. Sadly, today’s generation is hung up on newer, more western styles, which is not bad but one does need to preserve one’s past as well,”. Confessing that although her band is not one of the few which are on the forefront of the music scene in India, she is proud to see a few loyalists support the band in any way that they ca - besides attending concerts. ‘The Musical Folks’ are however, gaining momentum and have started performing in several cities across the country. In a sense, she is going backwards - a strong belief in non-commercialization of their work and making ‘unfiltered’ music that is untouched by polishing or digitizing. These musical folks are kicking it old-school, and we love it.

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