Yangon's locally based music is on the rise in with the fresh addition of the growing phenomenon known as “Youk Shi,” a musical extravaganza featuring well-known genres blended by local artists.
Founded by Ma Jan Jann and Ko Abin, Youk Shi traces its roots back to a Hip Hop Charity event for flood victims on October 15, 2015. And what were audiences’ reactions? They wanted more.
In response, Jann and Abin delivered with a festival under the moniker “Youk Shi” on April 9, 2016 called “Youk Shi Thingyan Hip Hop Festival” at Mya Yeik Nyo Hotel grounds.
According to Jan Jann, the literal meaning of Youk shi translates to “we are here”, a phrase both Jann and Abin use when they have reached a certain destination. But further deconstruction (again according to Jann) lends to the name’s ontology: “I have enough.”
After Youk Shi’s first official festival, fans were hungry for more. So in the following month of May 2016, Jann and Abin initiated “Thank God, It’s Youk Shi” every month at various venues like bars and clubs.
“TGI Youk Shi is not big like the first one, [but] we have it every month in order to keep in touch with fans and also their requests.
“The reason we have had TGI Youk Shi parties at different places is that we want our fans to experience the difference in Yangon. Some of the people might know the venues we choose, while some don’t,” she said.
But not every Youk Shi party is small one. Youk Shi’s second biggest festival was held last year on October 29 called “Youk Shi Acoustic”. Instead of hip hop they dabbled with rock (and all of its confusing sub-genres.)
“[Straight] from the beginning, Youk Shi wants to present the music with not only famous artists but also lesser-known talent. This is one of our purposes. We want to show how amazing the underdogs are,” she said.
She added, “people are in every genre of music: rock, hip hop, reggae, etc.” Currently, people are most familiar with hip hop and rock.
“In the future, we would like to add some reggae players,” she said.
Moreover, Youk Shi is more than just your run-of-the-mill concert, it’s a festival.
“We don’t want to do a typical music concert: … when the show will start, who will sing, which singer will come first. Like going to the concert is like going to the cinema,” she said.
And both Audiences and artists don’t want that.
“For the first one [festival, not concert], we want our venue look like a bonafide hangout. The DJ’s not on the main stage, we made an area for skateboarding, and also food stalls. We want to immerse our audiences, to have them feel the whole environment and ambiance,” she added.
But heading Youk Shi events is no minor task, especially when events are planned to be held every month, as Jann explains.
“At the first, only me and my business partner Abin organized the events. That was a really hard time for us.”
But as Youk Shi grows so too does its number of supporters. Now planned events are assisted through friends, members, and event crews.
“[And] even though we have many people to help us, we still have some problems, like finding a sponsor,” She said.
This month, Youk Shi celebrates its first anniversary with “Youk Shi: Made In Myanmar”, their third big show.
“The name ‘Made In Myanmar’ gives us more responsibility… to make a good, show inviting international DJs or artists are not a must. We can make a good show with our own talented people,” she said.
For the upcoming event, the musical stylings of J-Me, Ya Tha, G-Tone, Ghetto Pillz, Jouk Jack, New Gypsy and Wai Gyi will be performing in Made in Myanmar and Lan Bar, OG Kush, Zwe Thet Paing and Luffie will freestyle on stage.
“Three local DJs [Angelo, Zayw Gyi, and Boby Funk] will also perform showcasing turntable scratchin’,” she said.
An event as lit as Made In Myanmar requires an MC who can hold his own, and who better than famous rapper Kyat Pha? “We also want to how cool the role of MC in hip-hop culture.”
Youk Shi: Made In Myanmar will be held on April 12 at Mya Yeik Nyo Hotel compound. The show will start at 4pm-10pm. Advance ticket prices are K10,000 and door-ticket prices are K12,000. Ticket can be bought online through Myanpwal and NayKyarSeek.