WOW | Musical Conversation


There are possibly very few Nepali music lovers who have not heard the legendary ‘Nepathya’. Since the past 29 years, Nepathya has received unwavering love from its audience across the country and abroad. The band is best known for blending folk melodies into new, youth-friendly pop and rock music. From performing at small indoor cinema halls to taking the stage at musical concerts worldwide, Nepathya has set a benchmark for the Nepali music industry. WOW’s Anushka Shrestha catches up with Amrit Gurung, the vocalist of the band to learn about their musical journey. Excerpts:

Tell us something about your recent YouTube release ‘Choto Geet’

‘Choto Geet’ was recorded and released in 2003. It was a part of the ‘Bhedako Oon Jasto’ album. This is a short song as the style goes which is about a passing day and the uncertainty that night brings. We thought the theme goes well in these uncertain times and released it on our YouTube channel. The song was written and composed by our former Bassist, Daniel Don Karthak.

 What was the response?

We are using this time to look back at our catalogue and re-launch songs through the medium of YouTube. Choto Geet has been loved by our subscribers and is being promoted by them by sharing on social media and through word of mouth.

How is the pandemic affecting the music Industry?

When the world and the entire economy have been affected, the music industry cannot be spared. Specially for performing artists like us, this seems to have a long term impact. We have already put two international tours on hold. However, this time can be used to connect with the audience through virtual mediums and I see many utilising this platform to their best.

Nepathya has been in the industry for 29 years. What has the journey been like?

You just reminded me how old I have become. From April 1, 1992 when we released out first album, it has been a long journey. Many friends have parted and many have joined. Music has taken me to the hills and mountains of Nepal and across many countries in the world. It has connected us to so many well-wishers, I feel blessed to hear that our music has touched so many people.

Any performance you especially recall…

Each show has its own beauty and memory. From a small hall in Walling to the Grand Wembley Arena, we gave our best two hours we had to offer during the concert. Venues like Sydney Town Hall, Warfield Theater in San Francisco, Tokyo Dome echo with memories. And those venues we performed during Nepal’s conflict were small indoor cinema halls converted into concert halls, and large open grounds; everything reminds me of those dark days of Nepal when we tried our best to show some hope to the people.

What is your song writing process?

When songs are based on folk tunes, it is a long process. Once I pick the tune, catch lines and decide to work on it further, the process does not end there, it starts. A song needs a story to be told and the stories and words need to resemble the area from where the tunes originate from. I need to understand the hardship and celebrations of the people living there. I also need to feel the nature and surrounding environment. Hence, it requires me to go back to revisit the place, observe it and further talk to the locals. Writing and composing a song based on folk tune is like a process a student of ethnography would spend to do a research on a subject. A similar process I followed and documented in a video which was shown in an award winning documentary film, ‘Bhedako Oon Jasto’. The filmmaker had followed the entire travel and covered the process. And when the songs are not based on folk songs, it is sometimes spontaneity and sometimes my personal expression of things I observe around me.

Who would you like to collaborate with?

I can’t think of a name. However whoever he or she is, will need a lot of patience for the collaboration. It has been almost 30 years in music now and Nepathya has not recorded 100 songs yet. I always believed in what Ambar Gurung once told me, “Katiwata hoina, kasto geet gayo bhanne yaad garnu”.

In my musical career, even within Nepathya I have collaborated with great musicians. Guitarist Naresh Thapa has contributed largely to the rock avatar of Nepathya with his collaboration in the album ‘Resham’. Daniel Don Karthak, a seasoned musician and a fine bassist contributed largely to the album ‘Bhedako Oon Jasto’. There were other musicians like Guitarist Hari Maharjan and Percussionist Nikhil Tuladhar, Pianist Dipendra Suman who contributed to the ‘Bhedako Oon Album’ as well. Currently as a part of Nepathya, I have five musicians working with me. Dhurba Lama (Drums), Suraj Thapa (Keyboards), Subin Shakya (Bass), Niraj Gurung (Guitar) and Shanti Rayamajhi (Madal), and myself: we work as a team to arrange new songs and record them.

If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?

Art and artists thrive with the collaboration of a good management team and I feel lucky to have one with me. I wish there were more management companies which helped other musicians. I would like to see music companies acting more loyal to the musicians. They should understand that they sell music and make money but many seems to be of the attitude, “how would you sell without us?”That is wrong. I cannot change it by myself alone, but I would like to see this change evolve within the businessmen working in this industry.

What’s next?

As I said earlier, we are using this time to look back to our catalogue and re-launch some of our songs. By the time this is printed, I guess another of our 2003 release, ‘Pani Tire Tire’ will be released on YouTube. We have few new songs that have been recorded and ready for release. And we are in the process of recording a set of new songs as well. We are not in a hurry. You will know when we are ready.