| November 22, 2017
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The resilience factor

The resilience factor
For Nabin K Bhattarai fans, three decades seem to have passed away in the blink of an eye. The way the singer has continued to churn out hits and maintain a prominence in the industry, even after all these years, have been most impressive. Even at the moment, Bhattarai confirms that he is working on yet another record, his 14th, if you were keeping count. So The Week caught up with the hit maker to talk about his present state of mind as well as his playlist. He shuffled through his collection to share with us the music and albums that made up his formative years.

So after all these years in music, has your approach to music changed?
Oh yes, there is naturally more maturity in the way I perceive as well as tackle music these days. With time, we are bound to learn new skills, gain more knowledge and develop our craft so together all of this has given me a stronger desire to do something. When I look back at my work, I can see all the shortcomings. There are certain changes I would love to make even on the hit numbers. So with the desire, I can see that my creativity has grown as well.


What about your inspirations, have they changed?
In this area, actually not much has changed, especially when it comes to my lyrics. Mother nature, for me, has always been the biggest point fascination. The whole concept of our ever changing surroundings has always been an inspiration. The way time brings about different seasons, moods and scenes never fails to give me ideas.

Then, of course, I like listening to music itself. When you are looking for inspiration nothing beats good music from good bands. It’s really as simple as that. In fact surprisingly, I even found out that reading biographies of bands can help as well. It helps to read about their journey of discovering their musical identity or hear about the frame of mind while they were in while making those iconic tunes.

Your fans have been listening to your music for years now. Do you feel the pressure to keep it fresh?
I have never set about trying to make my work sound ‘fresh.’ I don’t use that term. I don’t believe it should be a goal of any sort. Music comes from the soul. It should be about a musician’s expression alone. Any attempts to keep up with the trends or appeal to the ‘in’ crowd will risk your work becoming incredibly commercial.

Do you think this is an exciting time to be making music?
It’s always an exciting time to be making music. Though if I were to choose, like most music fans, I do believe 60s and 70s were the best years to be an artist and a musician. It was an era when music was art. With time, the process of making music has definitely changed and perhaps, not for the better. Sometimes, I feel the strides we have made with technology have made music less holistic. Don’t get me wrong though, if you can make proper use of it, it has many benefits. However, technology can make you lazy as well. It’s more copy paste these days. The arranger can tweak everything for your convenience so an artist doesn’t have to struggle or strive as much now. Maybe this is why we often find ourselves reminiscing about the good old days of music.

What are your thoughts on our current local music scene?
To be completely honest, I haven’t seen any work that has been a standout. It’s a little sad but I think we are still lagging behind when it comes to artistic attempts that could produce new sound and music to shake up our local music scene for good. It may be decent piece of music but there isn’t anything that excites me.

What do you think could be the reasons behind this?
Well, surfing through the net and checking out various singers and their music, it’s clear that many are quick to define their genre. You are metal or pop or rock and, I believe, this mindset can be very dangerous. It creates this wall that prohibits the artist from expanding themselves to explore the various musical possibilities. Just take the Beatles, for example, they didn’t stick to a certain sound. They always allowed themselves the freedom to create, play and make whatever kind of music they felt like. This is how we get creativity and good tunes in the industry.

I believe if we were to adopt this mindset and let loose, it would certainly help our local music scene. These labels and genres, they are all fabrication of the media and so called RJs to help sell their programs. Let’s not get ourselves stuck in it.

You have been incredibly inspired by international artists, but have you ever considered making an English album?
It’s not that I haven’t dabbled in composing original English tunes. For example, on my YouTube channel, you can check out A Million Faces, my original English work as well as various covers. Every now and then, working on English songs serves as a refreshing change and I enjoy it. So it’s not like coming up with an English album is tricky but I do fear the audiences’ response. Nepali listeners aren’t as embracing of local artists completely changing their genre.

On Bhattarai’s Playlist

One of these nights
The Eagles
I still remember my maternal uncle had a copy of this record. I was probably eight or nine years old when I discovered this band. I didn’t know about the band’s Grammy wins. However, I remember thinking this was good music.

Twist and shout
The Beatles
It’s incredible how the music you hear as a youngster can leave a deep impression on you. Among the music and musicians that had a significant impact on me, The Beatles were obviously one of them.

Appetite for Destruction
Guns and Roses
I was already in the eighth grade when Guns and Roses hit it big with this album. This was their first hit album and going through the list of songs on it, it’s no surprise. I got a lot of inspiration for playing guitar as well as singing from this record.

Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd
It’s fashionable to claim to be a Pink Floyd fan. If you profess a love for their music, it seems you get extra credibility. Such is their status now but we grew up with this band. After we formed our band, songs from this album was always attempted during rehearsals.

Machine Head
Deep Purple
The early 70s really did give us some of most epic tunes in music history. Especially where mind blowing guitar work is concerned, we don’t have to look any further than Deep Purple.