With his ‘Funtastic’ song winning hearts of Nepali music lovers, and his cover of evergreen Nepali songs like ‘Junta Lagyo Tarale,’ and ‘Bola Bola’ garnering appreciation, Almoda Rana Uprety has become one of the most sought after Nepali musicians today. But the name and fame he has is not something he’s earned overnight.
“My journey into music began, perhaps unintentionally, when I was a six-year-old boy accompanying my grandmother at Hanuman Dhoka to sing bhajans. Looking back now, I would never have imagined that that little ‘indulgence’ in music would lead me to this day,” says the music arranger, who has a Master’s of Music in Enthnomusicology from SOAS, University of London. After experimenting with underground music, dohori songs, gazals, and black metal while growing up, Almoda found his calling in the Nepali film industry after his work in films like ‘Resham Filili,’ ‘Dreams’ and ‘Kabaddi Kabaddi’ were highly appreciated.
Almoda, a full time music producer at Kripa Drishya Digital Studio, says he normally works at least 12 hours every day, bringing out as many as 25 new songs every month. When asked what motivates him, the 28-year-old says, “The truth is, when there’s work, you have to do it. Right now people trust me and are giving me work, so I don’t have any option but to work.”
Taking some time out his busy schedule, this musician on the rise talked to Republica’s Poonam Maharjan about the scope of Nepali music, why he wishes he were a musician of the 90s, and how the emergence of social media has affected the music industry.
You’re basically a music arranger. But do you think you’d be getting all this attention if you were only arranging music and not composing or singing songs? How does it feel to be you at the moment?
It would be difficult. Even singers don’t get the due credit actually. More often than not, it’s the models and actors that people recognize, not the singers. This is also one of the reasons why I don’t do playback singing. When I only arranged music, even my family members and closest friends didn’t know of my work even if the songs I worked on became really popular.
I have always felt great to be me, but right now, since so many people recognize me by my work, it encourages me to do better; I feel more responsible. It’s good to know that people are expecting more from me instead of giving up on me.
Besides, my relatives, who never approved of my inclination towards music when I was a beginner, reserve special seats for me and prepare my favorite dishes during family gatherings today, and that gives me a good feeling.
What is one song you wish you had composed or sung?
I’m a 90’s kid, who grew up watching Nepali films of that time. So there’s a certain nostalgia attached to the songs from then. This is also why I mostly cover old Nepali songs, and even borrow lines from popular folk songs in my original compositions. Therefore, I wish I were a musician back in the 90s composing all those songs. I’m also fascinated with the then music because those were the days when you had to go all the way to Mumbai to record songs, and you got to work with live music, unlike now when most work is done in front of a computer at a corner of some recording studio.
How has the emergence of social media affected the music industry?
The effects have mostly been positive. Just a couple of years back, one needed to visit media outlets and request them to promote their music, and it would be really difficult if you didn’t know the right people. But now, you can put up your work for the audience in different social media platforms as soon as you come up with one. And it’s social media that decides the fate of your work—how many views on YouTube, how many likes and shares, and whether it is ‘viral.’
On the other hand, many choose to post irrelevant, negative comments while hiding under the cloak of anonymity. While one will gradually learn not to be affected by the online trolls, it can slightly discourage the beginners.
How do you see the scope of Nepali music industry?
The scope is good, but one needs to be really patient to succeed. Compared to other music markets, ours is a minority market. Hence, even the most popular song in Nepal can’t make half the money a “flop” song in India makes. That is perhaps the only downside. But it’s enough to make a living.