“Haflong is a beautiful town with lovely weather.” That’s how rap band Digital Suicide’s vocalist, Daniel Langthasa, described his home town. “It’s a very small town that’s starting to get a little busy now, with vehicles, and people from surrounding villages, coming in to stay.” The now 31-year-old musician fondly recounted memories of this culturally diverse and topographically rich district, nestled within the hills of Assam, where he grew up.

Although the band calls its music “mutton rap” – whatever it may imply – a young music journalist from Delhi recently termed it as “protestpop”. It is a classification that is premised on the band’s socially motivated music beginning with their debut album, Demo, followed by a slew of singles they released each month (as part of their  mandate) this year:  ‘#NOSTATENOREST’, ‘#OPERATIONALLOUT’, ‘#AKHUNI’, ‘#DABANGG, and #MURTOWN.

Sarcastic, unapologetic, and loud lyrics count for the band’s habitual pinky poking into Haflong’s metaphoric nose, which Langthasa tells us is cluttered with ethnic bigotry, racism, and regional insurgency.

“The borders to Haflong are very porous,” Langthasa said. “So, we have all of these different ethnic militant groups from surrounding areas coming in. That makes it difficult. That creates disharmony. There is always an element of fear lurking around, and the people are not united.”

Digital Suicide is the brainchild of childhood friends Daniel Langthasa (vocals) and Dpak Borah (bass/production). They first started writing music as dreamy-eyed high-school students back in the mid-1990s, recording demos on cassette tapes, and working out the occasional trip to Guwhati to record music, before moving out of their hometown to pursue a college education. In 2008, the two were reunited in Guwhati, where they first started writing music as Digital Suicide and performing at festivals like the Ziro Festival of music, over the next two years.  The duo later inducted drummer Simanta Chaudhary to complete the band.

A laptop, a microphone, an internet connection and a local park serve as the band’s studio. They use satirical humour doused in mixed musical influences like alternative, and electronica, fused with rap and hip hop, to channelize their sense of rage:
“This has got to stop
And our nation wants to change
But, too many people jerking off
Watching two people dance”


With various extremist and ethnic fundamentalist militant outfits such as the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland, Hmar People's Convention - Democracy, People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak, United Liberation Front of Assam, and many more, Haflong is a town split into “communally identified” villages, Langthasa said.  As a result, it has been witness to numerous ethnic clashes over the last decade.

In 2007, Langthasa lost his father to the violence among ethic militant groups raging in his home-town, three years before which a close uncle of his fell victim to a clash between extremists representing his tribe – the Dimasa – and a rival faction.

“Basically, our message is to change the people around us,” Langthasa said. “We don’t really have much of a universal theme with our music. Not for anything else, we write music for the people around us to open up to each other, have fun, and question each other, if needed.”

Apart from ongoing work on the band’s upcoming album – due to release later this month – Langthasa’s Non-Governmental Organisation, Tryst Network, has recently been sanctioned a new project: “A small arts and culture festival,” Langthasa said, that is in its planning stages.  The festival is meant to travel across Haflong, Shillong, and eventually Guwhati, tentatively beginning sometime in August. The project will witness collaborative efforts from artists such as Shillong-based indie pop/punk band Street Stories, Dimapur-based post indie rock band We The Giants, Imphal-based alternative rock act Imphal Talkies, and more, in effect creating a travelling festival which will bring together musicians from various parts of the North East.

“I want this to really spread in the town,” Langthasa said. “So that the younger generation gets affected by it. That’s the goal, and why I am getting people together. So, that should be fun.”