In the year 2009, OFF from Kohima bagged the trophy and that was the last time we saw a local band win the Hornbill Rock Contest. Nagas are in flux when it comes to music and fashion. Like last year when Indie and EDM music were making the rounds and people jumped on the bandwagon, started bands with names that rhymed with mythical creatures and donned outfits as though they came right out of Harper’s Bazaar and GQ magazines. We’re aware of the fact that just like the science of the nature’s web of life, Music also has different times where a particular genre dashes ahead of the rest. While many venture out of their elements (which can turn out distasteful if they’re not doing it right), very few enjoy the art of originality. The HIRC 2016 saw bands from Northeastern states that were so incredible; they overshadowed bands from the other states. SNF (Search N Found), from Dimapur, Nagaland took home the trophy, which was the first time in eight years after OFF won the Contest.
Let’s walk you through a brief bio of the Rock outfit from Dimapur:
In the year 2015, four young and enthusiastic musicians embarked on a few jamming sessions to make optimal use of their shared love for Modern Rock music. Because it wasn’t okay to disregard their irrefutable skills, the four-piece decided to take full advantage of their talents and that was where it all unraveled. A couple of jam sessions and some soul seeking was how Search N Found (SNF) came about. These rockers have a fine stance on not raising the bar too high but rather accomplishing one thing at a time as they make headway. To move the audience in a way where they can develop a positive outlook on life is something they intend to do en route. With each session and performance, these guys find out new kinds of musical comprehension, and they channel it all to their growth, both musically and personally. SNF comprises of Wati Imchen, the lead guitarist and technician, who is musically detail-oriented; Neil Gonmei, a drummer who never stops to stun people with his thumps; Imnamaong Imchen, the bassist whose never-bite the dust state of mind is some constant wellspring of motivation and Albert Jinger, the vocalist, lyricist and composer, whose experience is a priceless resource to the band and many people he comes across. With all the love and admiration from their performances at the Hornbill International Rock Contest, SNF continues to make music and inspire people.
Congratulations on winning the HIRC 2017. What are you guys doing with the prize money? Enhancements and an album?
SNF- Thank you. With the cash, we got ourselves some more gears and gadgets. We also plan to invest it into our recording, studio projects and other production-related avenues.
Which bands at the contest were some of your favorites?
SNF- Individually, there were players that stood out and really set the bar of the competition. It was quite inspiring and refreshing to see our local bands stand the test by entering into the finals.
Many people believe that technicality and clarity augmented your performances at the Contest. Would you say the same?
SNF- The whole texture of our music revolves around tiny details that can easily go unnoticed, and to have those noticed by the listeners and judges make us feel much appreciated.
Kudos to Wati Imchen. You are quite the methodical guitarist. I asked a few rock musicians who saw the Contest and they were raving about your talent. Can you tell us a little about the story of yourself and the guitar?
Wati Imchen- Music has always been in the family. My Dad used to be in a band back in the early 60s’ so we always had a guitar at home, but learning to play a few chords from my brother within my fingers’ reach made me want to explore more. I grew up listening to Satriani, Steve Vai, Steve Morse, Ozzy Osbourne, Queen and the likes. I was fascinated when introduced to a guitar teacher (Sir Manen). That was the first time I saw someone shredding solos that I had listened to. It really drove me into practicing more and in a right way. I kept music aside for over six years after high school, which of course was not by choice but because I had to complete my studies. After graduation, I started performing with a band which was a learning curve for me. Live performances aren’t as easy as they seem. The instrument level, tone, clarity, originality, chemistry and stage presence has to be all spot on. Watching proficient bands perform live and photographing those moments in the back of my head helped me replicate and recreate in my own way. Internet and YouTube are some great means to know the unknown and to keep yourself musically updated. Guthrie Govan, Alex Hutchings and Vinai Trinateepakdee are some of my favorite modern guitarists.
Where did you guys exactly meet, and how did making music transpire? Where was your first performance?
SNF- Some of us are high school mates and some met through mutual friends, since we were looking to fill in spots. We simply got together and jammed over for a rock contest, we clicked plus had the same musical direction, and thus there was this great chemistry going. That is how it all started.
Can you name some of your musical influences?
SNF- Foo Fighters, U2, Maroon 5, Dream Theater, Van Halen are some of our influences. Our compositions resonate with the inspirations from Pop to Progressive Rock bands.
How much or often did the band practice for the HIRC? Did you have it planned ahead of time?
SNF- We had around 2 weeks to prepare our version of the covers that were notified ahead for the auditions. We usually jammed in the evening as some of us have day time jobs.
What is the theme of the band? What message do you guys carry or convey to the people?
SNF- The theme of the band is love and hope. Our message is simple as the name itself. Our appetite to search and accomplish in life never ceases but that does not mean we give up until it is found and accomplished. That is pretty much how our music leans towards the idea of sending out a positive vibe to our audiences. Beating the odds in life with optimism and a smile can make a difference.
What change or development would you like to see in the music industry, in Nagaland?
SNF- It is no doubt that the state sanctions funds to the music industry and promotes bands and artistes by introducing state sponsored tours to further music exposure. Similarly, introducing scouts to look for talents and helping the underprivileged by fund mechanism would be a bonus for upcoming musicians.
How do you envision the band, five years from now?
SNF- We are all pumped and driven to be the best at what we do and in another 5 years, we look forward to setting a firm spot in the music industry.