Menwhopause Guitarist Anup Kutty On Setting Up Ziro Festival
Over 20 bands from across the country will perform this month at the three-day festival in Arunachal Pradesh
It was September last year. We (menwhopause) were touring the Northeast playing back-to-back gigs in venues across Guwahati, Shillong, Dimapur, Kohima and Itanagar. By the time we reached Arunachal Pradesh, political tension in the state had caused a two-day curfew. The gig had to be postponed and much to our delight, Bobby Hano, the promoter,Â invited us to his hometown about a 100 kilometers away ”“ a beautiful valley calledÂ Ziro.
ZiroÂ is home to the Apatanis – an extremely hard working agrarian tribe who also make excellent hosts. Our days inÂ ZiroÂ were made memorable with delicious food, endless rice beer and picturesque hikes across the lush valley. I remember sitting on top of the Circuit House hillock overlooking the old WW II airstrip and talking to Bobby about how much fun it would be to get a mix of artists from across the country in this utopian place. The idea lodged itself in our heads and refused to let go even after we returned to Delhi. Finally, months later, we decided to check on a whim if this was possible. As we found out, the Arunachal Pradesh Tourism board seemed only too eager to support this venture. It was official. This dream could be achieved.
Anyone connected to the music scene in India knows how vibrant the Northeast is. Yet, not many mainland bands make the effort to tour this wonderful part of the country mostly because of lack of venues or infrastructure. During our tour of the North East and my subsequent trips to some of the states to cover the music scene, I have realized that there exist some brilliant acts as well as a fan base. Thanks to music magazines and the internet, there are kids who are following the Indian indie scene quite closely. But not many of them get a chance to see their favorite bands perform on stage. Popular festivals like Hornbill in Nagaland do get some acts but these are competitions, which in my opinion kills the joy of listening and playing music simply for the love of it.
We went through all of these points during the hours of discussions we had before finally deciding to go ahead and put our collective energies into curating a festival that would simply be for the love of music. Our team, which consists of varied people from all over the world (including our artist manager all the way fromEstonia!), is filled with people who are passionate about music, the Northeast and the idea of a confluence of creative energies in a place that seems tailor-made for this.
ZiroÂ Festival of Music is aimed at being a platform for bands from both mainland and the Northeast to come together and play to a large, discerning audience that will arrive from all over the country. Over three days (14th, 15th and 16th September), there will be over 20 bands playing on one stage and tribes from the Northeast showcasing their cuisine and craft ”“ all in an effort to let people understand each other better through the best form of expression ”“ music.