The music legacy may have begun with her father but Reema Gurung Hoda holds her own in the industry. Her delicate voice and pleasing singing style catapulted her as one of the most popular female vocalists more than a decade ago. However despite her veteran status, Gurung still remains active on the scene. She has not only worked on her own albums but is also a regular feature on numerous collection albums. The Week caught up with the singer to discuss her playlist as well as reflect on the current music scene.
In the 23 years that you have been in the music scene, what sort of significant changes have you seen in the industry?
The way music is made, released and consumed was bound to change with time. But I do get very nostalgic about the time when my father and other musicians took up to six months to compose and rehearse a single song. At the time, it was obviously very difficult to schedule a recording session so when they did get an opening, they had to make sure that everything went well in one shot. I remember coming back from school and hearing all these musicians practice together for long hours in the other room. Various singers, composers and musicians also used to regularly get together and share their new work with one another. Making music was such a labor of love.
New technology has certainly made the art more accessible for more people but it has also turned the music community into a factory. It’s hard to remember the details of a song a mere couple of hours after recording it. Most people are in a rush to move on to a new potential hit. This change in the industry’s attitude is perhaps the most significant one over the years.
So you are concerned about the quality of music coming out these days?
There are many promising acts and exciting talents on the scene but it does worry me that most involved in music seem to favor quantity over quality. This is a problem that we can witness worldwide. Being a musician takes a lot of study, dedication, practice and hard work. You may say I have been involved with music for 23 years but even after all these years of performing, releasing three albums and earning two degrees in music, I know that there is still more that I have to learn. So it is a matter of concern to see that many musicians and music students aren’t giving that much importance to honing their craft. Releasing an album or having a popular music video alone isn’t enough.
How do you think we can help instill these values?
This can be tricky. It’s always more effective when the artist herself realizes this but in a way, listeners also play a role. Listeners can always demand more quality in the music available in the market. I like keeping tabs of new music on the scene. I pay attention to what my son and others from his generation are listening to as well. So far it looks the consumers mainly go for easy listening. Such songs are the most popular. It’s the same beat in a loop or some random lyrics. However, as listeners, we can always demand better effort from our artists.
Are you satisfied with your contribution to music?
I have been putting in my best effort. I may not be a mainstream singer but I have had the privilege of working with some really talented composers, musicians and producers. There are many skilled musicians on the scene. But alongside their passion, artists also need a favorable condition to thrive. Many people put in a lot of hard work into their songs yet it’s easy for quality work to go unnoticed here. So many musicians are only given their due credit after their deaths. They are always hosting those appreciation ceremonies and events. Sometimes I worry if that is going to be the case with us as well.
On Gurung’s playlist
This is one of the most played songs on my phone’s playlist. It may have been six or seven years since I discovered it but I’m still not tired of hearing Jones’ s soft voice. Her voice has this amazing texture. It is so dreamy especially when she sings while playing the piano. The combination never fails to bring me to a standstill. Whenever I hear this song, I tend to just stop whatever I’m doing and sway in the spot for a while.
It was actually my son who bought this song to my attention. We all have been impressed by Adele’s vocals at one point or other, but I particularly love her live renditions. So, rather than listening to her recorded versions, I often YouTube her performances. The stage, lights, her dress, hair and makeup when put together with that iconic voice create a powerful impact. Besides, we have to give Adele points for her stage presence as well.
I’m currently learning this song. I use it in my daily vocal training classes. I have always considered Bachhu Kailash as Nepal’s Mohammed Rafi. The kinds of songs he sings and composes have a distinct standard. The first thing I noticed about this song was its lyrics. The sentiments are expressed with such clarity and then there is the flow of the song. It’s certainly one of my favorites and because of it my respect for Kailash has only increased.
Mero Pyaro Manche
I really enjoy Ceine Gurung’s songs. Among the Nepali female singers that are on the scene at the moment, she is certainly a standout for me. I think she is very smart with her song choices plus her voice has a real quality. Further, whenever you interact and socialize with her, you can see that she is very devoted to music. She is passionate about her craft and earnestly enjoys making music. I consider her one of the genuine artists in our industry.
Soon Chandi Bhanda Prakash Gurung
This single has been on my playlist for a long time. In fact, this song forms one of my earliest memories in music and it is not only because it is one of my father’s composition. Whenever I play this track, I’m taken back to those times. I feel this wave of nostalgia and perhaps, that’s the reason why I can never get enough of this song. I have many of my father’s released as well as unreleased tunes but this old hit is one I keep going back to.