JAMBILI - Reviving Folk Song
The Teenager Today|September 2020
JAMBILI - Reviving Folk Song
Jambili is a folk-rock band that was formed mainly to preserve and bring back Karbi folk songs that were almost forgotten by the people from district Diphu in Assam. The idea to form a band was conceived when school friends came together and played for the first time, trying to bring back the folk songs that were almost forgotten.

Daniel Engty Kathar of Excruciator fame whose songs are very popular among fans of all ages and has also played with Grammy-nominated band from Dimapur, Abiogenesis, which has performed in Thailand, Russia, Bhutan and Myanmar, is the force behind Jambili. He brought together a few friends and formed the band in 2007. Daniel also played a role in the Abiogenesis Films Enter My World as an Ahom warrior.

Their current line-up comprises Daniel Engty on vocals/kum dengdong/flute /guitars/krongchui (jaws harp), Thong Timungon vocals/Chenkpi/Chenkso/Chenk buruk (all traditional drums)/kum li eng, Talo Tisso on guitars/vocals/ chenkpi, Sarlongki Teron on bass guitar/vocals and Sar-im Tisso on drums/chenkburuk/vocals. VERUS FERREIRA had a telephone chat with the band members. Excerpts.

Can you tell us how the band was formed?

Daniel: In 2007 I accompanied some scholar friends who were recording folk songs and stories for archiving and research purpose to the rural part of our district. I found that only a few elderly people knew our folk songs and many of them didn’t even know the complete versions of many songs which only meant the extinction of our cultural songs which had no written or recorded preservation. So a sudden need to popularize them was realized and a discussion among musician friends led to the ensemble of this venture, to repackage the age-old traditional Karbi folk songs with modern equipments and sounds. That’s how Jambili got ensembled and played its first gig in Diphu the same year in the famous Roots Music Fest of North East India. Jambili with just its first gig got immediate attention and played its second gig the same year on an invitation to Autumn Fest in Shillong.

Did you guys sing in the local language Assamese, or was it English songs and covers?

Thong: We are from the hill part of Assam where we speak Assamese only as lingua franca and Karbi is spoken in our region. Jambili plays fusion of only the Karbi folk songs and music, though we also have performed Bhupen Hazarika classics and Bihu in our own style.

Daniel: Well, cover music was out of the question since its origin had a specific motif, but we’d like to pay tribute to the works of legendary musicians from across the seas in our folk fusion way.

How did the band get the name Jambili?


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September 2020