Unravelling the traverses of Symphonic Illusions
By Rashik Biswa
From covers of Dream Theater and Norwegian band Circus Maxima in 2011 to currently playing this ferocious yet symphonic brand of metalcore music, the virtuosic ‘Symphonic Illusions’ have come a long way in their journey.
Over the course of 11 years, this Shillong-based band has gone through a spectrum of changes — all for the better!
This week, Sunday Shillong presents to you the journey of Symphonic Illusions, as we take a closer look into the lives of our very own rock stars, who competed against world class bands at SHIROCK 2022 representing Meghalaya and returned with laurels.
While these artistes outshine most talented and revered bands from across the globe at Ukhrul, Manipur, none could decipher the perseverance and determination it took to pull off such musical prowess at SHIROCK!
Before we delve further into their journey and their breathtaking performance at SHIROCK, let’s introduce the band and its members.
The name ‘Symphonic Illusions’ is hinged on the idea of creating enigmatic music with “a little bit of everything”, as the band likes to call it, with the right mix of lyrics based on real-life instances and technical yet melodic conditioning of the tracks.
Symphonic Illusions is a five-member band comprising Amedious Nongbri (vocals), Stevenson Lyngdoh (guitars), Baio Sylliang (bass), Harvest Mawi (drums) and Manbha Aiden Marpna (keyboards/synths).
The band restructured its genre from ‘Progressive Metal’ to ‘Metalcore’ in 2014 to “add more life and harmony to their musical style for the listeners”.
Throwback with Stevenson
According to the founding member of Symphonic Illusions, Stevenson Lyngdoh, since its inception, the band had mostly played the cover songs of Dream Theater and Circus Maximus before moving onto a more contemporary style of music or essentially, metalcore.
The Symphonic Illusions did not arrive fully formed.
After the band’s original drummer left, Lyngdoh met Harvest Mawi with whom the band began their regular practice. “We both shared musical ideas even though we were amateurs at the time. We dedicated much of our time to music,” says Stevenson.
The band’s present vocalist, Amedious Nongbri, also joined the band soon after Harvest. It was with Manbha in the picture that the band decided to adopt the restructured genre.
The band has released two singles — Collision Theory and The Final Signs — which can be streamed on SoundCloud, an online audio distribution platform and music sharing website.
Don’t let their bad-boy persona and flamboyant stage presence fool you, they are some of the most kind-hearted and down-to-earth personalities you’ll meet.
In fact, we can safely say that we have found some bad boys who are good.
Let’s find out how.
Band’s lead guitarist Stevenson Lyngdoh cooks for a living besides music.
“It’s something that I love to do and (I am) passionate about since I had embarked on this journey a few years ago. I also love practising calisthenics; as it keeps me in good shape, and in good health,” he explains.
Asked how he manages to squeeze in time for practice sessions in his daily schedule, Lyngdoh said, “All of us have jobs but we make the time for music. We have a routine for our practice and jam sessions; usually after work twice or thrice a week for an hour or so.”
Musing on his attachment with the band, Lyngdoh says “the band feels like my real home and family to me. We have come a long way and I’m proud of the accomplishments we have achieved throughout the years.”
“The journey has been like taking a ride on a camel through the Sahara Desert,” the founding member of the band says as he laughed at his own metaphor.
“It’s been a 13-year-long ride for me. We’ve encountered countless downfalls, adversaries, obstacles as well as failures in our path. One will not make progress if one stays in their comfort zone. You have to go through defeat and loss before you can become a winner,” says the founding member.
The band’s drive – Manbha
Manbha Aiden Marpna has been the fuel that drives the band; in what sense you wonder?
He ignites the fire within every band member!
You’ll find Manbha at the helm of managing and ever-ready to take risks for the band’s good.
He says, “For me, time management is very important. I practise alone when I’m at home. When it came to gigs/shows, I make time after work for practice sessions with the band.”
“Consistency and dedication is a must for each and every member so that we can deliver the best in and out of the stage,” says Manbha, who is also employed with the Directorate of Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs.
Although a relatively new addition to the band, bassist Baio Sylliang feels deeply for it too.
“I work as an RJ at RED FM, so music and radio goes hand in hand. I usually have to take a leave from work to play out-of-station gigs. I joined only recently and it has been great so far, as we’re all driven and we love what we do,” opens Baio.
Frontman Amedious Nongbri has been in love with music since he was a child.
His entry into the band happened in the year 2014; and since then he has been able to push his limits in the vocals of the band and its members, whom he considers family.
Nongbri has left us with a delightful thought that most can’t rebuff: “Music heals everything”.
Harvest on drums
Band’s drummer Harvester Wanniang (aka Harvest Mawi) is a multi-talented musician with a single called Alive already streaming on a widely used music streaming service provider Spotify.
The song carries a dynamic taste with melodic synths, a rap section, besides breakdowns accompanied with syncopated rhythms. Considering that this comes from the band’s drummer, Mawi’s singing sure is worthy of appreciation.
This “self-taught” musician, notwithstanding his own struggles, exudes pride as he advises budding musicians to dream big because “every flower blooms in its own time”.
Here is the band’s message to the people: “We want to reach out to people with our music who are struggling with different problems such as drug abuse, alcoholism, abandonment or being bullied. They are not alone. We want to inspire determination and give strength to such individuals with the help of music.”
Some of the notable shows and competitions that the Symphonic Illusions have participated in are Shillong Battle Rock (2014), Thundermarch, Silchar (2015), Octaves Esplendidez, Guwahati (2015), Rockathon, Meghalaya (2015), Meghalaya Icon 6 (2016), Rock Royalty Shillong (2016), Thundermarch, Silchar (2017), Alcheringa, Guwahati (2017), Falcon Festival, Umrongso (2019) and the most recent being the SHIROCK Festival, Manipur, this year.
Talking about SHIROCK, the Symphonic Illusions bagged the 1st runner up prize at this revered battle-of-the-bands-style contest. In the individual categories, the band was also awarded the ‘Best Stage Act’ title.
Their other achievements include: Winners of Meghalaya Icon 6 and Rock Royalty Shillong both in the year 2016. They were also adjudged 1st runner up at Rockathon, Meghalaya, 2nd runner up at Thundermarch, Silchar, and Octaves Esplendidez, Guwahati — all in the year 2015.
The band was the 1st runner up at the Alcheringa, Guwahati in 2017.
At present, the Symphonic Illusions is in writing and recording mode mostly focussed on their debut EP, which is set to be released “soon”. They are upbeat about releasing more songs in the future that people can connect with while also enjoying the artistry of the band.
The Symphonic Illusions has heaped praise on the fans for the unwavering support and hoped that all their hard work going into the upcoming EP will be appreciated just as much.