The emerging music scene in Kathmandu

  •   2017-07-03  |  nepaltraveller.com

The increasing demand of customers have created a culture of gig which has influenced both the musicians and the host. Joshna Karki talks with a few performers and their host about gig culture in the Valley.

With the increasing outgoing and night out trend in Kathmandu, the restaurant, lounge and cafe spaces are expanding their services to create better ambience. With time, market value for live music have heightened and restaurant without such services have started booking bands and hiring musical instruments. The increasing demand of customers have created a culture of gig which has influenced both the musicians and the host. More than a source of entertainment, gigs to musicians have become a platform where their passion meets a professional ground. To owners of different ventures, gigs have become a medium to enhance their brand. Here, performers and their host talk about gig culture in the Valley.

Subash Siwa- Herbal People

Subash Siwa is the guitarist of the band Herbal People. He started gigs by playing metal and rock after which he slowly shifted to blues. After being called by Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory to perform, he started exploring Jazz. He always had a deep passion fo guitar and doing gigs gave him the stability to pursue his passion. “If one can establish themselves as a professional, gigs help them earn good money.” He feels connecting with people while playing live is the most beautiful thing about gigs. “People watch you live and you cannot stop. They understand what you aim to impart,” adds Subash. Live performance according to him motivates the musicians as it makes them self-aware of their mistakes and helps them grow.

Herbal People is a Jazz band and they are working to elevate the Jazz scene in live performances. The atmosphere created by gig is amazing. Subash says that people come not only to listen but also to learn, jam and improvise. When asked of the most memorable incident when he performed gigs, Subash says, “Well, it was the time of Holi and while performing, an audience splashed a pill of water at my guitar. It got me furious but still, it remains memorable.” Other than that, the experience of collaboration with an Italian indie-pop-folk-jazz singer and songwriter, Marta Rosa at Moksh has been his best one.


Sunny Mahat - The Midnight Riders  

Sunny Mahat is the bassist of The Midnight Riders and besides gigs, his band is busy recording music. His band plays at Wicked Spoon every Wednesday and during weekends they play at places depending on the organizers. His most memorable experience of live performance has been at Purple Haze where his band got to perform with Bumblefoot of Guns N’ Roses. They were called to perform by the riders at the 8th Enfield Rendezvous & Poker Run where they made a music video of the journey of the riders.

A gig according to Sunny, is going beyond the practice room to let the creation be tasted by the audience. “It is a platform to connect with the audience and learn from your own mistakes.” He says that live performances helps you free yourself of self-limitations. “If one isn’t giving live performances, they will disappear in time. All classic rock bands have followers to this date due to the live performances”, says Sunny. As a bassist, the difficulty he has faced while doing gigs has been the safety issue and parking problem. The most significant problem has been the unfriendly rule to live performers who can only play up till 10-10:30 p.m. while the dance and disco places can run beyond midnight. Despite all difficulties, Sunny is very happy with what he does.

He shares, “Just 2-3 weeks back, my friend who was going to go to UK had come to listen to me. He stayed for hours and before he left, he said that your passion is meeting your profession and the happiness reflects in your face.”


Alice KC- Azima

According to Alice KC, the bassist of the band Azima, gigs are a musical platform which is a medium of entertainment from where one can earn. He states that there is a lot of instability when it comes to earning though album launching. The restaurants have become a medium which has made earning through music easier. Live Performances for him are like workouts where one can learn variety of music and things one didn’t know before.

“When doing a gig, you must usually perform for four hours and it becomes a good practice. You develop a better strumming and the practice in a crowd is more effective than at home,” says Alice. The one thing that bugs Alice is the narrow thinking of the society who take the job of having to work at night hours negatively. He says that artists must perform at night and that every job is different. He adds, while some work and enjoy during the day, others may be more productive at night and opt for having a nice time with some good music.


Sandyp Hendro- Jung Trio

The Guitarist and back vocalist of Jung Trio, Sandyp’s band performs at Jhamsikhel, Thamel and Kamaladi. They usually perform three times a week- Friday, Wednesday and Saturday. His first gig was at Kito’s which fell in the Nepali New Year. The crowd was huge and the first experience was exciting. Sandyp says that the gig culture in the present is growing as per the increasing outgoing trend.

He worked as a web developer before and the pay was nice. But, he couldn’t spend time doing what he loved and missed playing music. Gigs have helped him to earn by doing what he loves and though the pay isn’t as good, it’s satisfying. Gigs have expanded his knowledge of music as he is now familiar with a lot of genres.

He really loves the night ambience brought by gigs and prefers Jhamsikhel to Thamel and feels Thamel is crowded while Jhamsikhel is calm and selective. Sandyp believes that there is a large platform for everyone if they are serious and work together.


Evoke Cafe and Bistro, Jhamsikhel

Abhilasha Rana, the owner of Evoke Cafe and Bistro says that in the time span of two-three weeks of the opening of the cafe, live music was facilitated every Friday as per the customer’s demand. The growing culture of outing on Fridays and the trending culture to opt for restaurant that has live music led to introducing live music at the cafe and bistro. In the beginning, they had to figure out how to tie up with the bands and maintain the logistics. But with time, they have developed a contract base to hire the musicians on Fridays and on special events. Also, Evoke wants to promote different streams of music like Jazz which suits a selected audience.

As it has an open space, different musical events are hosted - the recent one being Liquid Inspiration. The songs played at Evoke are mixed and are usually subtle. The owner says that English acoustic and classical pop songs cater to the need of our mixed customers. Unlike peppy Hindi and Nepali numbers played to get the customers off for rowdy stunts, Evoke sticks to its company’s ambiance and target audience.


Wicked Spoon, Fork and Rock, Jhamsikhel

Fine Dine in a rock bar, gigs is a part of the concept of the fine dine restaurant, Wicked Spoon. The place aims to lighten up the ambiance through rock or blues bands. The owner of Wicked Spoon says that the live performance there compared to other restaurants in Jhamsikhel is different. It has a stage with performance set with required musical instruments, sound settings and light. The gigs take place three days in a week-Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Fridays and Saturdays are known for the rock performance while Wednesday is a themed day when a specific genre is played. Earlier, Jazz songs were played on Wednesdays and was followed by a blues night.

The bands who perform there are selected from a range of band after watching their YouTube or other performing videos. Since 2016, Wicked Spoon has been hosting big musical event every month inviting famous musicians. It had started the event by inviting Adrian Pradhan followed by Mukti and Revival and others throughout the year.

 


Kauzi Lounge N Bar, Kamladi

“The gigs in our lounge aims to entertain people who can’t go to concert”, says Krishi Raj K.C, the owner of Kauzi Lounge. At Kauzi, live performance takes place every day. The owner says that music is a universal language well received in the marketing world too. “People don’t visit our place for dining or a night out alone, they come here to enjoy the bands performing at Kauzi.

There is no problem in getting the bands in everyday basis as, Kauzi gets four to five requests by the players each day. But during weekends, the bands which have good demand charge a higer amount or are booked by someone else. As it is a Lounge Bar, the bands it hosts are the ones who can bring the customers on the floor for a ball dance or disco. The co-partner of the lounge is a sound engineer who sees that the technical aspect of sound is maintained with different effects. Every week, the owner assigns a task to the bands- which is to come up with an old song according to its database, variety and revive it for customer’s entertainment. A band called Sign revived the old number, “Saathiya Ye Tune Kyaa Kiya” which was well received by the customers. The lounge and bar also hosts an Open Mike Session every Sunday for the customers to create their version of musical atmosphere.

Joshna Karki is a freelance writer who is passionate about identifying relationships among concepts. She loves to make conversations and explore places representing diverse cultural interactions.