I met Inavito K Zhimoni, more popularly known by his stage name Ina, along with Borkung and his band at Zai Mizoram Festival last December. I liked him instantly, he was a friendly sort, and, more importantly, he wasn’t stuck-up even though he had reason enough to be. In fact, while other artists were exploring the picturesque locations and enjoying bonfires, he was busy practicing for the show. He also wasn’t a tad dejected when he saw younger DJs with more expensive equipment; instead he was like a little child excited to explore the new ‘toys’. He used whatever little time he had to experiment with the new equipment. Seeing him so motivated and dedicated to his art reminded me why he was among the most popular DJ’s from the Northeast – there are very few who can match the quality of music he produces.
Born to Late Kavito Z Zhimoni and Namcham Zhimoni of Nagaland, Ina changed many schools when he was younger, so he has studied in Dimapur, Darjeeling and Patkai. One thing that remained constant was his involvement in church activities which was when he was influenced by music. He used to play the guitar and drums in school, and, later, he also taught himself how to play the piano.
After finishing school, he went to Delhi for higher education and enrolled into an interior designing course. Delhi introduced him to club music and he got to experience EDM. He finished his BSc in Interior Designing but his heart was not in it so he came back to Dimapur to pursue music.
In the beginning, he used to mix music for his friends. Ina shares, ‘It’s funny but I didn’t even use professional software when I began, I just had my laptop and used VLC player and Windows media player, I controlled the tracks by turning the volume up and down’. His family was initially critical about DJing at first but winning the 1st Runners-up award at the Palm Battle of the DJs India, Mumbai in 2012 changed things for the better. ‘Since, then, they have been very supportive and I’m glad that they are proud of me and my work’.
His had begun his career by playing at summer parties. Once he saved up enough money, he bought the Pioneer CDJ100s which cost him Rs 47000 and there was no looking back. He became the resident DJ of Fusion Fuss, Nagaland’s first club, where he earned around Rs 2000 per party and his side gigs would earn him around Rs 5000. He used those opportunities to hone his skills and make a name for himself. Eventually, he took a call to move back to Delhi.
Once there, he called Borkung Hrangkhawl to collaborate on a song and since then he became a part of Borkung’s band. ‘The best thing about Ina is that he makes his own beats. It is important for a DJ to make his or her own beat. He is effortless and comfortable with new age, dubstep and many other sub genres. We are lucky to have him as our official DJ,’ shares Borkung. Apart from the band, he plays solo gigs and at DJ festivals; he also produces music for clients.
For a music producer and a DJ, it is important to collect different sounds and Ina is no different. Whenever he travels to a different location, he listens to their indigenous music, he uses elements that he likes and works on the same to make it his own. He shares that EDM is growing but not in a way it should, ‘Music festivals are doing good but EDM still has to find its own space. Hornbill Festival is doing their part as they have one separate day for EDM called ‘Love East’. Meghalaya also started a ‘DJ Music Festival’ last year; I hope it grows bigger.’
He is also very supportive of the funds that Nagaland Government gives to musicians but feels that they should ensure whether the funds are reaching the right people. ‘I myself have never approached them because I was confident that my music will do well. But you only get those funds when you have contacts. I think when music meets bureaucracy, music is ruined’.
Words: Jadeed Hussain