A force to be reckoned with

November 18, 2016 11:03 AM Priyanka Gurung


She emerged a winner at all the major award ceremonies with her debut effort two years ago. In fact, Astha Raut is still riding high on those releases, playing innumerable concerts both nationally and internationally. As the love for her uniquely powerful vocals continue to grow among the masses, her status in the music industry is becoming ever so strong.

Priyanka Gurung caught up with the singer whilst she works on her second studio album, Aadhar II, to talk about the journey so far and of course, her playlist.

I don’t just want to sing love songs.

It’s not that I don’t like romantic singles. I enjoy them and down the line, I’m sure, I will sing a couple of them as well. But I’m keen to sing about more things than just matters of the heart. 

The response to my song, ‘Chaubandi ma Patuki’ for example was really nice. The theme may have been different but Nepalis could relate to it. They agreed with its sentiments as well. The song helped reflect their own sense of patriotism but with a little modern twist. It expressed their love for traditions and culture as well. That one song evoked a lot eclectic responses that I really enjoyed. I want to continue in this path.

I feel the responsibility to help spread positivity through my songs. If my music could help bring people together or give them a sense of motivation that would be really amazing. So that’s what I’m working on with the second album. I want to bring more substance, evoke more emotions, and experiment with my style. There is a lot to be done.

I don’t compose my own songs or write my lyrics. But so what?

There tends to be a lot of talk and criticism as well. People are quick at making judgments on this matter. If you don’t write or compose your songs, it seems some tend to view you as incompetent or less of an artist. I beg to differ on this. 

I’m not good at writing and composing songs. I didn’t participate in those activities in my debut album and I don’t plan to in my upcoming second album either. I do try every now and then but in my case, writing and composing mainly depends on the kind of mood I’m in. I admit it’s not my strongest point and I think that is ok. There is nothing wrong with that.

Everybody has his/her own strengths and weakness. I sing, I dance, and I entertain. I enjoy interacting with my audience and putting up shows for them and that is what I want to focus on. By acknowledging my shortcomings and collaborating with other composers and lyricists, I think I can guarantee the quality of my songs as well. 

I’m not hungry for awards. It doesn’t drive me.

I didn’t have any expectations of living life as a singer. I remember there was a time when I wanted to become a doctor and after that, because I have had experiences of eve teasing and such, a police officer. A singer wasn’t an option I initially entertained. 

In fact, when I recorded a single in high school and it sort of became a hit, I was actually worried about the popularity. I thought it would hamper my privacy and limit activities with friends. I never wanted to earn fame, which is why I pulled myself away from it all. I just went about with my studies as I wanted to give myself the time to figure things out. The years abroad helped a lot. I discovered I was the happiest when I was singing. 

As nice as the accolades have been, I feel the biggest satisfaction comes from doing the work you love to the best of your ability. My mother has also always encouraged me to be more concerned about the efforts that I’m putting into the task at hand. She always says the results will follow. The outcome shouldn’t be the priority so that’s how I’m going about it as well - focusing on putting out quality music. 

On Raut’s playlist

Michael Buble

I find Buble mesmerizing. I have always loved his vocals and find his ability to ‘throw’ or project his voice impressive. Further, his compositions are incredibly intricate. While they may sound simple, there is always a lot going in there. There is heavy jazz influence in his music too and he is very clever with improvisations. Thus, it is very easy to become a fan.

A.R. Rahman

I don’t choose my favorite songs based on genres, artists, bands or language. It’s got a lot to do with the kind of mood they create and Rahman excels in his category. As a composer, he is truly the entire package. His music touches a nerve every single time. I don’t even have a specific single as a favorite. I could listen to any of his compositions and I would enjoy it immensely.

Kali Prasad Baskota

Kali Prasad Baskota obviously has many viral songs to his name at the moment. I think he has a real knack for understanding what the audience wants. He flows with time and is versatile in that manner. He isn’t afraid to try different genres. But despite the popularity of his songs, there is also a lot of originality in his work. He doesn’t only make generic music.

Gopal Yonjan

I have grown up hearing and humming Gopal Yonjan’s songs. I remember my father buying his cassettes and that was basically my introduction to his folk music. They made quite the impression on me as a child. I used to sing his tunes all the time. Now I consider him one of the class acts of our industry. Gopal Yonjan’s melodies are one of those rare works that I can just never get tired off. 

Bipul Chettri

I think Bipul Chettri has really proven that simplicity is the best. One doesn’t need those effects, bells or whistles to make a hit song. He has his own style. His songs tend to be stripped down and raw and it’s such a refreshing change. I also think he deserves kudos for tapping into our folk roots. The inspirations he has drawn from them makes his music that much more noteworthy.


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