Festival Aims to Give Young Musicians Center Stage

By Lwin Mar Htun 12 December 2019

A music and social unity project by Turning Tables Myanmar, called “Voices of the Youth”, will feature at the fifth VOY music festival on Saturday, Dec. 14 at Botahtaung Jetty in Yangon.

The annual music festival and VOY project aim to empower younger citizens to use music to express their ambitions and concerns.

“We have different projects and VOY is one of them. The main purpose is to empower young people and let them use music and film as their tools to express their words and emotions,” said Darko C, the director of Turning Tables Myanmar and vocalist and guitarist in the indie band Side Effect.

The 2018 ‘Voices of the Youth’ music festival at Botahtaung Jetty in Yangon. / Turning Tables Myanmar

“Most young people have grown up with traditional rules and ignorance from older people and they don’t know about freedom of expression. But you can see the members of VOY are brave enough to shout out what’s on their minds. We want that and encourage them.”

The VOY project has music workshops, song contests, music festivals and album releases for song contest finalists.

“The music festival is a big part of this project because it’s open to the public and many young people from different cities can unite at the festival,” said Darko.

Young independent musicians performing at last year’s VOY. / Turning Tables Myanmar

The song contest is another popular part of the project and has become a new platform for independent musicians because they have accepted different musical genres as long as the submissions are original creations and fit into the theme of Myanmar’s societal, educational and religious direction.

“This year we got 108 submissions and we selected 57 songs. We picked seven finalists and they already have a chance to be a part of the VOY 2019 album,” said Darko.

“This year’s winner who captured our hearts and senses is Heavy and Ko Minn with their song ‘Lu Thar San Chin’ [Humane]. They will perform on the VOY stage with us and other musicians on the festival day.”

Last year’s VOY music festival. / Turning Tables Myanmar

In previous years, music workshops and small concerts have also been held in Nyaung Shwe, Mandalay and Pyin Oo Lwin.

“We would like to do more workshops and gigs outside Yangon but we don’t have enough funding. But we will try to make it happen in the future,” Darko said.

“Now we have a new monthly program called ‘Music Connects’, including young people’s discussions on different topics and an open mic program. Everyone can sing and we have many musicians.”

Turning Tables Myanmar aims to raise awareness about young people’s participation in Myanmar’s democratic transition. The concerts will run from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and entrance is free.

The lineup includes Side Effect, Lan Bar, Ghetto Pillz, Lil’ Z, Last Days of Beethoven, Kultureshock, Fever 109, A Letter from Caesar, Zwe Thet Paing, The Myth, PBD Hood, The Reasonabilists, Flock Rose, Bliss, SGL, Blood of Century, Maze of Mara, the Apple-Jack, Si Phyo Min and DJ Zaw Gyi.