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Nagaland, Rhythm of Love

The long winding road of a Nagamese singer from Mon

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By Mirror Desk Updated: May 27, 2018 11:03 pm
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Musician is the subject of a local heritage project

(Left) David Konyak (Right) A collection of Konyak’s recording cassets.

 

Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, May 27 (EMN):
It was in the ’90s and early 2000s that a new wave of ‘Nagamese’ music was the trend of local musicians in Nagaland. It was before reality singing contests, social media, or mobile phones came into the picture.

One such gifted storytelling musician was 33 year-old David Konyak. He will always be a part of the genre’s generation that is today the original pattern of Nagamese music.

Konyak was honest about on his musical journey and challenges, as he interacted with Eastern Mirror through the phone. He was Born in Tamkoang village and grew up at Tobu town in Mon district. Konyak was only 16 year-old, an age of confusion for most growing people, when he and his friends recorded and released their first English album ‘Bad Kids’ in 2000 at the Gospel Sound Studio located at Kashiram in Dimapur.

It was during the recording session the studio owner requested Konyak to compose some Nagamese songs and return to Dimapur, says Konyak. “At that time I decided to seize the opportunity and give a try since it was a big offer for me and luckily when I first released my Nagamese album ‘Dukhiya laka awaz’ it was well received and it was huge success especially in eastern Nagaland. So I began to make more and more music and I’ve released a total number of nine music albums.” He released ‘Dukhiya Laka Awaz’ volume one and two in 2001.

Konyak studied up to standard-VIII. He built his fan base touring small venues and festivals, singing heartfelt, honest songs about everything from class and love to injustice, equality and social change. He sang and spoke about relatable issues.

Konyak however took a sudden retreat from the music scene. He has been engaged in community activities. Besides, because of financial constraints he could not produce new album.  But he was optimistic that he will be back after his work.

Konyak’s passion for music developed when he came across a guitar bought by his brother who never allowed him to lay a hand on the guitar as he did not know how to play.  Although he was not familiar with guitar, his zeal for the instrument made him make his own guitar just for the sake of practising.

When Konyak’s brother saw his enthusiasm to play guitar, he taught him few chords. His attendance to Sunday school was an advantage as he slowly started playing guitar at church whenever they presented group songs during the service. After some years they formed a band which was known as “Modern Battles” along with some of his friends from Tobu and that’s how his interest grew with each day.

Recounting his unfading experience, Konyak shared “I performed at a concert organised by Nagaland Film Institute (NFI) in the year 2001 at DDSC in Dimapur and coming from a remote town where you hardly enjoy regular power supply, the experience of sound system and arrangement for person like me hailing from such a backward area was exhilarating”.

Talking on his songs which conveys significant message, Konyak candidly shares: ‘I first try to question and reason out myself after which I try to find a solution for every situation that caught my attention, I believe that there may be individuals whom I can reach and speak out through my music and that’s one factor why you feel that my songs are significant to particular situation. There are couple of songs which I have finished writing in few hours and there are also some songs which took me even weeks’.

Even though his songs are unambiguous, he has not received flak but lots of encouragement.

Konyak has an interesting account with music. As a conventional parent, his Dad had asked him to choose between music and sports, and he randomly chose music thinking that he will not be able to play sports in old age. “I think I was right since all my friends have quit sports and I am still playing guitar and making music till now” says Konyak gleefully.

A humble person that he is, Konyak says he would like to perform with his childhood buddy and his former band mate Phaiba from Tobu as he was very closely associated with him since he started making music and have struggled together towards good and bad times of our life.

Lately he has been in Tobu travelling mostly in the eastern area performing mostly in church and student related events.

Music has been a mainstay for Konyak as he recounts it had helped and changed him completely- the way he perceives things and the way he respond to the criticism. ‘I grew up in an environment where I lost many of my good friends on drugs and I think getting attached with music made me to overcome all those issues’.

“There are still many people who always wanted to enjoy music for free and in a remote village it is even more difficult since there is only handful of people who view music and musician seriously. There is no promotion as well as no financial support for a promising artist coming from a poor background”, he pointed out.

Nagaland’s music industry has seen a sea of change since the time he started and Konyak in his words shares “so many changes have taken place since the day I started music.  I first released my album in an audio cassette and then in CD, the music scenario has entirely changed. Majority of the artists are now releasing their songs online in different websites and the Music Task Force is also doing a commendable job in promoting our local musicians and their music in international level unlike the days when I started making music where the only profit I get was by selling my audio cassette and CDs.”

This is a story of a man whose music conveyed candid substance. A self made man who charted his songs in everyone’s home and has found his way home to music.

David Konyak may not have the recognition of an ‘it’ singer but some of those who grew up in the early 2000 might recall David’s name being connected to Nagamese music. And for a while, the early music industry agrees.

The Genesis Project

The project was started by a youth Sangti Konyak in 2013. He was given recognition during the 1st Nagaland Red Carpet for social contribution. The project is supporting the Tobu musician and mobilizing aid for production for his work.  There is a Facebook page for David Konyak to reach out to a bigger audience and find funds for his music.

Some other initiatives of The Genesis Project in Tobu town include construction of a pavement, and a mini-library project, besides organizing counselling events for students.

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By Mirror Desk Updated: May 27, 2018 11:03:34 pm