Listen Up—Voice of the Youth to Take Center Stage

By Lwin Mar Htun 6 December 2018

YANGON—Voice of the Youth (VOY) is a music and social unity project which aims to empower the youth of Myanmar by using music as a creative vehicle to tell their dreams, their visions of society and concerns of Myanmar’s future through from their music and their annual music festival takes place this Friday.

The event is organized by Turning Tables Myanmar, a group that wants to raise awareness of the importance of youth participation in Myanmar’s democratic transition. This is the fourth edition of the VOY music festival and it will take place at Botahtaung Jetty in downtown Yangon.

“VOY is one of our movements and we see youths have become brave and dare to speak louder about their visions of society from different angles through their music,” said Ko Darko C, the director of Turning Tables Myanmar and vocalist and guitarist with the well-established punk band, Side Effect.

The organization hosted a song contest in which fans of all kinds of music genres could compete as long as the submissions are original creations and fit into the theme of Myanmar’s societal, educational and religious direction.

“We just want to hear of the voices of the youths, their feelings, what they want to be. They need to speak louder. They need to learn freedom of expression and use it through music. That is the main point of this movement,” said Ko Darko.

The VOY music festivals began in 2015 and still today there are only few young people who can express their visions freely through their music, he said.

He added, “After the second edition of VOY, more young people started to recognize us because of the winner Zwe Thet Paing. His song is about human rights got a lot good feedback. In 2017, we accepted a lot of competition songs which were written about the country’s problems. I’ve also heard a lot of social cohesion song themes at other underground music concerts so, that’s a change.”

This year, they got more than 100 applications from different parts of Myanmar in music styles and expressions ranging from hip-hop to rock, pop, metal, gothic and punk.

They selected only one winner from over one hundred competitors. Winners get a unique chance to perform with other well-known artists at this week’s VOY music festival. The winner of the 2018 competition is an artist called Bliss who won with a song called “Yat Thint P,” meaning “Should Stop” in English.

“Bliss will be performing with us at the coming festival. We have a total nine finalists and all nine songs will be included on the VOY 2018 album,” explained Ko Darko.

In 2017 the team traveled across the country to teach the youth how to make music with what they already have and how to tell their stories through music. They brought their movement to a total of six locations nationwide, including Nyaung Shwe, Mandalay and Pyin Oo Lwin.

“This year, we changed the plan and we tried to get our own place. It’s like a youth center. We held training and workshops there,” said Ko Darko.

“There are so many young people who are passionate about music but don’t have support, so we want to help them as much as we can and we want to get them all in one place,” he said.

“You will hear their voices singing about their society together at VOY and you will see their unity despite their music genres being different. They respect each other.”

The artist line up for Friday’s music festival includes Side Effect, Bigg-Y, Lan Bar, Last Days of Beethoven, Fever 109, The Myth, Skunx, T-Zin, Jimmy Jacobs, Mr-Luffie, Big Zee, Floke Rose, Maze of Mara, The Reasonabilists, Louz Xa Lone, SGL, Tu, Myat Thitsar and Nway Nway. The DJ Zaw Gyi will also perform.

Acts kick off at 3 p.m. and entry is free-of-charge.