The musical acumen of internationally acclaimed Naga musician Nise Meruno has put Nagaland on the world map. In an exclusive interview with VibesMojo, the musician reveals how it all began.
37 year old Piano Maestro Meruno, began to play the instrument at a tender age of six. Realising his keen interest in music as compared to formal education, his family sent him to learn vocational music at Patkai Christian College, Dimapur for his pre-university study and later pursued a degree in music from Singapore School of Church Music.
As VibesMojo sat in conversation with Nise Meruno at the R S Academia of Music Performance where he is the Artistic Director, Meruno said, “I always knew that I wanted to be a musician, to be more specific, I wanted to be a performer. I wanted to travel the world, perform, meet people, do workshops and it’s amazing how God has brought that dream to me at a young age of 21 years. As soon as I came back from Singapore, I have been performing, I have been teaching, and I have been conducting workshops, music seminars. So it’s amazing how God designs your life”.
“I grew up in a musical family. My great grandmother was a pianist, she played the Accordion, my grandmother, she’s still alive, plays the piano, my dad is an amazing classical guitarist, so it was very natural for me to get drawn into western classical music,” Nise Meruno added.
As a schoolboy, Meruno used to feel a little out of place because he was the only boy student learning the piano while most other boys were playing football, drums or the guitar. Meruno became the youngest Naga pianist to achieve Grade 7.
Meruno wants to become a motivational speaker to help people discover their calling.
The year 2007 was special as Meruno received the Governor’s Award for excellence in music along with his teacher Dr Vivi.
When it comes to collaborating with other artists, he said, “I do not like to collaborate just for the sake of it. The main ideology behind collaboration is not just blending music and voices but to be challenged and to be able to create something spectacular”. He however did share with a lot of fondness his association with prominent musician Alobo Naga and the choir ‘Voices of Hope’, about 6 years ago.
Meruno terms his compositions as “very melodramatic”. One can definitely hear a hint of nostalgia, pain, tears and also laughter he explained. “My music can come under one word i.e. Hope. I believe we are all prisoners of hope,” he added.
Meruno has a different take on the emerging trend of folk fusion in the state. According to him there is just too much folk fusion music and hence he tries to avoid it.
Live performances have become his forte. He connects very well with his audience and feels free with no pressure of being a perfectionist.
His most memorable live performance was during his Europe tour he was emotionally touched. He recounts “As a young boy who was playing music from the Europe world like Mozart, Beethoven, I could imagine what their thinking was when they were writing their piece of music. To be in there and feel the environment, it became so real to me. I feel that with experience my music has become more realistic and more personal”. Performing western music at the European stage and receiving the love from them has undoubtedly, pepped up his confidence.
His eyes twinkled as he started to talk about his performance at the Mukesh Ambani’s children’s weddings and humbly said “It feels nice to be wanted by people. It means that they love you for the music that you share with the world and that is something I really want to thank God for,” he added.
Notably, as a Yamaha Artist, Meruno became the first Indian to endorse Yamaha Piano Japan. “Yamaha happened out of the blue. I was in Guwahati to inaugurate a Yamaha Music Showroom and the head of Yamaha who was present there liked my music as I also gave a performance. After that we had a talk and he immediately asked if I would like to endorse Yamaha and I didn’t even think twice,” Meruno said.
“To be able to give and create beautiful music, one must possess a beautiful heart because art is an extension of us, of who you are, so only beautiful things can come out of a beautiful heart. I am still aspiring for more, I hope to reach that point. Age may not be on my side but doesn’t matter”, laughed as he signed off.