Music, Rhythm of Love
Rhythm of Love: In conversation with Kito Yepthomi
Kito Yepthomi is a young upcoming artiste from Nagaland, who developed his love for music at a young age. He initially struggled to start his music career, but never gave up and followed his passion for music. He recently released his first official music video “Lhokuthu Kimiyeni’ on his YouTube channel.
Read on to know more about him…
Eastern Mirror: How would you like to introduce yourself to people who are new to you?
Kito Yepthomi: Hello everyone. I am Kito Yepthomi, an upcoming cultural fusion Sumi Naga artiste. I graduated from St. Joseph College, Jakhama. My family has deep roots in our village which is a few kilometres away from Zunheboto district, but most of the time I live in Dimapur.
Eastern Mirror: How did you start your musical journey?
Kito Yepthomi: I developed my love for music when I was very young. I still remember the days where I would have a cassette player clipped to my belt loop and listen to it everywhere I go. Growing up from a poor middle class family, even though my dad had a decent job, it was only sufficient enough to provide for our education and basic needs because we have a family of 10 siblings; and despite the fact that my parents really wished to support me, investing separately on my music career was impossible which indeed requires a lot of resources. But that did not stop me because moral support was always there.
I have had many sleepless nights making sure I never stopped learning all by myself. My journey as a musician is a rough one. I have experienced many rejections and disbelief from various producers who even refused to work with me. And when I almost lost hope I got introduced to the Icon Sunep Lemtur through my friend, who noticed my talent. He believed in me and saw the little potential I had and supported me in every way possible.
In fact my debut “Lhokuthu Kimiyeni” is one among his favourite songs and I am really happy for that. At the end I think what little talent and recognition I have today is all because of the undying passion and depth of love I had for music. Also a big shoutout to my family and friends who always motivated me and contributed everything and anything they could to support me. They are my source of Inspiration.
Eastern Mirror: Any apprehension when you delved into the music industry, which is becoming very competitive?
Kito Yepthomi: Honestly both Yes and No. Yes, because there is very little opportunity in Nagaland, specifically speaking of cultural music, and no matter how good the songs may be, very less attention is paid so you’re not sheltered as a cultural artist in Nagaland actually.
Also No, because I believe that my style/genre is different from others. And I believe no one has ever tried to upgrade local songs to the height of RnB hip-hop and EDM so far, so this is undoubtedly a new wave. And also my music being from my native language I believe that I am connecting my people with something that is organic, natural and common to all.
Eastern Mirror: What is your debut music video ‘Lhokuthu kimiyeni’ about?
Kito Yepthomi: ‘Lhokuthu Kimiyeni’ is a song which I wrote two years back. It is a cultural fusion song with a blend of RnB, EDM and RnB hip-hop. My idea was to combine the practices of different cultures which will allow listeners to realise the power of collaboration, rather than division. I believe fusion music offers a way to synthesise the best aspect of different cultures into an art form which everyone can connect and enjoy. The inspiration behind the song was from my personal life.
Eastern Mirror: What influenced you to make music in your vernacular language?
Kito Yepthomi: I have faced many hardships and dreadful criticism when I told people that I’m choosing native dialect as my official musical language, because I live in a society where everybody opines that only singing English can make you look cool and entitle you as an Artiste, and I feel at some point maybe this assumption is the reason why so many young raw talents are trapped behind curtains.
So I chose my vernacular language to break this stereotype and misconception. Nagas are rich in culture and musically we have so much to contribute and the ideas are limitless. And once attention is paid to cultural music, it can create common platforms for so many artistes, and it can also can boost the growing music industry. I urge every struggler (including me) that language shouldn’t be a barrier. Music doesn’t necessarily require a language because music itself is a language. Regardless of the language barrier if it is good music, everyone’s definitely gonna vibe to it; and also adding subtitles to your song can be another huge problem solver.
Now the other important reason why I chose my vernacular language is to create awareness among the sophisticated youths. Today, where modernisation is at its peak and our identity and culture is at risk, of all the possible measures we have I believe music in vernacular language can act as pertinent voice to reach people, and if not to common mass then at least I’m making sure that I’m connecting with the people of my community.
Eastern Mirror: Will you stick to your vernacular language or make music in other languages as well?
Kito Yepthomi: I started music by singing English songs and of course even the first song I wrote was in English. In fact it has only been two years that I’ve started to write songs in Sumi and last year was a breakthrough when I won the 3rd runners- up of the Sumi Love Song Competition 2021 organised by Sumi Alokumsumi Mqo (SAM). Since then my interest towards Sumi songs with a blend of fusion has become my new addiction. I have several English songs that I wrote over the years but now I’m thinking of rearranging them too into Sumi songs. So for now I’m sticking to this (Sumi dialect).
Eastern Mirror: What are your inspirations while writing lyrics?
Kito Yepthomi: My lyrics are not fictional, everything I write is purely based on a thing that’s going on with my life; my experiences both past and present, and sometimes I take inspiration from the story of people around me. But most of the time it’s all about me.
Eastern Mirror: Apart from singing what interests you?
Kito Yepthomi: When I’m not singing I like to hangout, make new friends and also spend time with my dad and elders and listen to old folk tales.
Eastern Mirror: Any new project in the offing?
Kito Yepthomi: Yes! And the next project is personally my favourite. I might release it in May with an Official Music Video. I’m really excited and I am sure people are gonna hear something different this time too.