Bombay Showcase

Three questions with the Tetseo Sisters

The Tetseo Sisters are redefining folk music in India with their distinctively fresh, spirited sound. The musical act, comprising four sisters — Mütsevelü (Mercy), Azine (Azi), Kuvelü (Kuku) and Alüne (Lulu) — first performed as a group in 1994. They steadily gained popularity via regular appearances at Nagaland’s Hornbill Festival, going on to become one of the State’s most popular cultural ambassadors.

Two of the sisters, Mercy and Kuvelü Tetseo, participated in Edinburgh’s iconic Royal Military Tattoo in 2014. In the same year, the sisters won the MTS Discover Band Competition at NH7 music festival, performing in Kolkata, Pune and Delhi. Last year, they further expanded their repertoire, collaborating with other artistes and releasing a slew of covers, from AR Rahman’s ‘Barso Re’ to an addictive version of Charlie Puth’s ‘Marvin Gaye’. In an interview, the Sisters discuss the road ahead.

How do you define your genre of music?

Alune: Our sound is melodic and harmonic. Traditional songs are mostly vocal harmonies with simple instruments that reflect Nature. We try to reproduce those sounds and create an ambience. Our songs are about our ancestors and the legends of our people. They are about life, love, pain, separation, death, honour, war and celebration.

You do quite a lot of your songs in Chokri; do you face challenges when connecting with people?

Kuvelu: The dialect we sing in, Chokri, is spoken by roughly 50,000 people. However, the fact that we sing in a strange language has never been a deterrent. We ourselves listen to music in languages we don’t understand and yet we enjoy it. The whole point is that music is a language in itself and it doesn’t really need translating. We also do quite a bit of fusion and Western contemporary, with soft rock, pop, world, blues, jazz, alternative and RnB influences. We are in love with the acoustic feel for now.

You have been highlighting issues of environment protection and gender equality. Is your music a political statement?

Alüne: Our music is not political at all. We however like to highlight and use it to create awareness about causes close to our hearts. We are vocal about women’s safety, rights and gender equality, environment protection, education and health: with or without our music. We believe music can connect and heal. We do not want to be controversial. We just want to create music that takes you to a happier place.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 3:17:03 AM |

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