Renbeni Odyuo is no new entrant to the local music scene in Nagaland. She found a place in the music circuit here after winning the 2010 edition of the singing competition Naga Idol. Since then Odyuo has seen her share of successful years through hard work and a never-give-up attitude. In today’s Rhythm of Love, she takes us through her musical journey and gives us an insight into the off-stage Renbeni.
EASTERN MIRROR: You are one of the few female musicians who have boarded this profession winning a singing contest and still surviving in the music scenario with stage shows. How challenging was that for you?
Renbeni Odyuo: Every musician goes through the same struggles, be it selling original music/albums or consistently getting pay checks for performances throughout the year, but apart the financial difficulties by far the most challenging part of the of the whole process was making people understand that music is an industry and can be a choice of profession.
EASTERN MIRROR: Talk us through your early phase with Music before people came to recognise you as Renbeni the winner of Naga Idol 2010.
Renbeni Odyuo: Before I won Naga Idol 2010 I was your average good singer just doing any shows that came my way.
EASTERN MIRROR: How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Renbeni Odyuo: Practice makes perfect, but of course I am not immune to human errors. In my early years of live performances a lot of mistakes would happen, I would stutter and end up with the most embarrassed ear to ear grins. Over the years of experience I’ve picked up a few tricks;
If I forget lines, I try to work up the crowd to sing along with me pointing the microphone to them; if there is a technical goof up, once again I’ll start conversing and interacting with the crowd and lastly god forbid if I trip and fall, which by the way has happened multiple times, I’ll try adding in humour and engage the crowd. At the end of the day I am in the entertainment industry, during live performances I am a singer whose job is to entertain. Mistakes or none, as long as the audience is satisfied I am happy.
EASTERN MIRROR: What are the challenges and rewards that come from working as a musician?
Renbeni Odyuo: It’s very challenging to remain relevant in Nagaland. I am required to perform consistently in various occasions which demand you to be versatile not only in the styles you choose to sing but also the venues. Oh yes and as mentioned above being a girl the heels because of which I fell.
I’ve had the opportunity to travel to different countries showcasing Nagaland’s culture and music due to my singing career. A little bit of ego involved but I love the fame and recognition I’ve got.
EASTERN MIRROR: What are some common opinions Naga people have about the music profession or a female venturing into this profession?
Renbeni Odyuo: Firstly Nagas don’t think Music is a ‘profession’ nor regard it as a career option. They do not understand the hard work that goes into this vocation. All they witness is the glitz and glamour of those 10 minutes on stage; not the hours of rehearsals, the precautions we must take for our voice and yes being a woman the wardrobe choices.
Thing to note is regardless of whether male or female, musicians all face obstacles but at the end it’s the talent that matters and gets recognised.
EASTERN MIRROR: What are the unidentified challenges faced by the music industry of Nagaland?
Renbeni Odyuo: Only musicians don’t encompass the music industry. Nagaland has its fair share of front end talent what is lacking is the back end. That is the management team, the public relations, the marketing, so on and so forth. All musicians in Nagaland must handle this by themselves, a one man singing army.
EASTERN MIRROR: As an artist who has made a mark in the industry with reality singing competitions, do you think singing competitions are providing better platform/opportunities to aspiring artists? Share your opinion.
Renbeni Odyuo: Any platform is a good stage to expose your talent. On a personal note through my Naga Idol experience the mentoring I received from other more seasoned performers went a long way in my singing career which of course is a plus point.
These reality singing competitions are providing better starts as long as the judging remains unbiased and the contestants are not getting ripped off period.
EASTERN MIRROR: You are not a new face/name in the state. People recognise you with Music and for your music. Tell us the Renbeni that many have failed to identify.
Renbeni Odyuo: I’m not only a performer, I also actually teach music to aspiring young talent at Hope Centre of Excellence, Dimapur.
EASTERN MIRROR: What’s next for you?
Renbeni Odyuo: Even though I have been in this industry for a while now, I have never released any original music videos so that’s definitely one of my 2018 New Year resolutions and collaborating with various musicians.