Northeast takes centre stage as the band 4th Element spreads its music

Members of The 4th Element   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Music and a passion to create their own unique melodies brought a group of like-minded musicians from Shillong together. It was Ribor MB’s idea to start a band with these musicians, way back in 2007. Drummer Sam Shullai, well-known guitarist Amit Mullick, vocalist Sarah Lee and bassist Jeffrey Laloo who blend his contemporary style to this sound, joined in. “We are a not a mainstream jazz band,” they say, explaining that their music is characterised by the four elements of funk, jazz, R&B and soul — that’s why they are ‘4th Element’. Hyderabad experienced their style of music at the Hyderabad Jazz Festival.

The band that has many music followers has come a long way since its inception. Most of the members have been there since inception except the bassist who has joined the team two years ago. There’s been no looking back ever since their shows picked up momentum in 2009 and the seasoned musicians are dedicated to music and do not have any other profession.

While Riber composes music, others bring in ideas to improvise it and play together. Having known each other for more than a decade, the musicians share a friendly rapport and have few disagreements. Ribor says, “Even if we make mistakes on stage, we smile and play the same tune so that we can start again. We share that kind of chemistry.”

Having performed at national and international venues, and events, 4th Element has evolved a setlist comprising covers and originals. “We are nervous playing in front of an international audience but after two songs, the music just flows,” says Riber. One of their recent successes was a gig at the Nisville Jazz Festival in Nis, Serbia, a prestigious event that is considered one of the top 10 jazz festivals in Europe. As the first jazz band from India to play at this music festival, he cherishes the experience. “Only people who listen to good music come there and we were anxious about the crowd’s reception to our kind of music. The audience began grooving and it was a beautiful feeling playing for them; it only showed that somehow we managed to touch so many hearts through music.”

Ribor who also performs with other bands is a big fan of Michael Jackson. An experienced keyboard player, he prefers listening to jazz and funk. A former music teacher, he now has a recording studio. Acknowledging that most musicians come from northeastern region, Ribor says “We have good musicians from Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram but sadly there are still many other bands that people have not heard of or recognised.”

He observes Shillong’s music scene is getting bigger; many children are interested in music.

“The art and culture department offers free piano and vocal lessons to young enthusiasts. We also have a diploma in music at the Martin Luther Christian University and many students take up music as the mainstream.”

In the immediate future, 4th Element has a few shows lined up next week back home and in Delhi. “For Christmas, we are at home. Our travelling months are usually between March and September.”

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 5:41:17 PM |

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