While Arunachal Pradesh has Ziro and Nagaland has Hornbill, the music-loving community of Mizoram were without any form of music festival for decades, until now.

On Saturday, the youth of Aizawl were immersed in an experience that had never set its mark in the blue hills of Mizoram – the state’s first music festival.

Around 10 kilometres from Aizawl, the collaborators, Local Event House and bby animals, an event management group set the stage perfectly with a bonfire, yellow fairy lights and food stalls selling steamy barbeque chicken and hot momos. The artist lineup had all the state’s top indie pop and punk rock names on the list. A little rap flavour was added in the mix with the biggest name in the state’s rap industry, G’nie. Hundreds of youth jumped to the familiar beats of Avora Records and Boomerang, while they swayed their heads to G’nie spinning magic on his new tunes. However, the crowd fell silent when artist Benjamin Sum sang of the troubles in his homeland in Myanmar, belting his symphonic voice to a punk rock beat.

In a corner of the crowd, away from the stage, a college student, Muanzuala and recently-graduated Muanzuali sat on a wooden bench swaying their heads and laughing away, when EastMojo asked them what they thought of the festival. With a smile, they said, “This is the first time for us to attend a music festival and we are having a good time. The artist lineup is really good and has a good genre variety, it has everything from rock to indie and hip-hop. However, we wish there were more food stalls.”

“The youth are in need of more festivals like this, there are many music lovers like us and there are hardly any concerts. Moreover, local artists need a platform where they can shine, a platform where music lovers and music creators can meet,” said Muanzuali.

Sanga, the drummer of Avora Records and one of the founders of event management group ‘bby animals’ told EastMojo that lack of funding and support from the government is one of the main reasons why there are no music festivals in Mizoram.

“Since Mizoram is a dry state, it’s really hard to land a big sponsor as alcohol brands are usually associated with big festivals and we can’t do such deals with any big brands. Moreover, the government is not willing to take any part in festivals curated by private firms or groups. So lack of funding is the main reason it has taken so long for the festival to take place.”

According to Sanga, this was the dream of bby animals ever since it was founded.

“Bby animals had been dreaming of curating a big and modern festival since 2018 when we founded the group. Our motivation stems from our dissatisfaction with the existing festivals we have in Mizoram, which are all curated by the Mizoram Government. They are repetitive, out of style and filled with speeches and solo acts and we want Mizoram and its people to experience a music festival that is more in line with festivals around the world.”

As of now, the major festivals that take place in the state are Chapchar Kut – a spring festival, and Anthurium festival where dignitaries preside over the programs with speeches and a few cultural programs and performances infused in between.

Bby animals and its team of 8 people did the designing, social media marketing, videography, sound engineering and groundwork for the festival while their organising partner ‘LOCAL’ with their team of about 8 people took care of logistics and funding. It was a common interest towards music and the promotion of the same in Mizoram that brought the two teams together to curate Mizoram’s first music festival.

One of the attendees, Hruaitluanga, a videographer, told EastMojo, “This festival shows how much the music industry has progressed in the state. For music lovers like us, this is perfect. For our artists to expand beyond our state they need more platforms like this, festivals like this will help them get recognition in the Northeast. However, we still do not have very good spaces for such programs. The location is a little too far, many people who would have liked to attend might not be able to because of the location.”

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Bby animals and Local event house plan to make ‘Local Music Festival’ an annual 2-day festival, Zomawii Khiangte, the owner of Local Event House said.

“This is our first year, and if it goes well we want to organise it every year. We want to make it a tourist attraction, something along the lines of Ziro music festival in Arunachal Pradesh. We want to include outside artists from the Northeast states. There is so much uncaptured nature in Mizoram. People travel for hours on the road to reach Ziro festival. In the same way, if we have the platform and space, we can bring them here.”

Zomawii Khiangte and her husband Felipe Rodriquez are the owners of Local All Natural Sodas and Local Event House. They are the first beverage industry from the Northeast to go to metro cities. They came to Mizoram in 2017 with a strong passion to develop the beverage market in Mizoram.

Like Khiangte, Sanga strongly believes they are here for the long run.

“As artists, we don’t have any kind of platform or support from the government or any organisations. The culture and community are important for our scene to grow. We will start small and then we will build up. The first LOCAL music festival is proof that the local populace has been craving an outdoor Music Festival. Our turnouts exceeded our expectations. The youth are starting to understand the importance of live music and over more years, we truly believe it will only get bigger. We are here for the long run.”

Also Read | North East Festival returns to Delhi with renewed focus on tourism

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