Brothers at concert (JJI website/File)
Dharamsala, August 4 - Not many people have tried their hands at doing something different and come out a winner. Those who have made it have consciously or unconsciously left their footprints behind. In the Tibetan music world, Rangzen Shouno had attained such an accomplishment in the early eighties by presenting the first modern Tibetan song. More than two decades later, another band is on the verge of establishing such a feat with their first album. Released on the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the first music album of JJI Exile Brothers leaves little doubt about its path breaking music to put it comfortably at the top of the chart and also leave behind an indelible impression of a new style of Tibetan song.
Call their songs Jim Morrison inspired or Eric Clapton ditto, the songs sung in Tibetan with its haunting tunes will definitely make any listener croon over and enjoy it to no end. The album is already picking up sales. As indicated through the demands for the album by young students, it seems couple of tracks are already a rage in a section of the community.
A close friend of the band described their music as 'Tibetan blues'. Jamyang the eldest of the three brothers, however, finds it unfair to typecast their music under any category. This is evident on listening to their songs. While the fourth and fifth numbers carry a shade of blue and jazz music, the third track is definitely a rock item. They have also added a soul stirring traditional Tibetan song titled Kharakri played with dranyen. Besides that, one will sense the presence of music from the good old west aptly incorporated to the Tibetan tunes in track number five and six. Jamyang is therefore vindicated with his argument. It is really not very easy to define their music rather than just calling it in a generic term as 'a different kind of songs'.
JJI Exile Brothers are Jamyang, Jigme and Ingsel. They were born in Dharamsala and with unflinching encouragement from their mother, they started the band in 1998 . Since then, the group has performed almost every year at different places to various audiences.
In the past five years, they have worked on a number of tunes and have sung many of their compositions in public. It is therefore not likely that the band will remain a one album wonder. Acha Nyima- la, their mother to whom the first album has been dedicated is expecting just that from her sons. 'They have lots of other nice songs and I am sure they will put those out in the coming years," She quips enthusiastically in the middle of the conversation. Jamyang and Jigme , reaffirmed their mother's faith in them by naming some more songs which have not appeared in the first album.
The boys' foray into music as a team happened just by sheer coincidence. Jigme remembers the winter holiday when the three brothers saw in each other the knack to learn and play music. “During that winter, I found out that Jamyang had already picked up guitar playing, while Ingsel has got himself well trained in Drangyen and Drum playing at his school. It was therefore not hard for us to make a band and become more professional” Jigme reminisces. He later added, "I consider it a god’s gift to have brothers like Jamyang and Ingsel who are gifted with talent in music". He described his elder brother Jamyang as the backbone of the band.
JJI’s nine track album reveals the frustration and difficulties of the exiled Tibetans. The songs titled ‘Longsho’ and ‘our jewel’ question the very reason for the suffering of the Tibetans and rouse a deep sense of urgency in salvaging what has been lost. The boys feel it important to let the people know about these things. Jamyang revealed his rebelious nature by describing his creativity and love for music as a weapon to raise awareness. “We want the world to be more informed about the plight of the Tibetans,” Jamyang stresses on. To some extent, this seems to be already working out because since the release of the album they have had a constant flow of tourists who have listened to their songs and have felt their pain and passion. Acha Nyima-La even claims of having received appreciative words from the singer and actor Jeniffer Lopez.