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conveying emotions through music pahenlo batti muni

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The Nepalese music industry has gone through a lot of transitions and changes in genres. All the genres that did pretty well in their time are seeing a shift towards a trend that is all about lyrical masterpieces and mellow soundtracks. In the list of artists and bands that fall under that, Pahenlo Batti Muni has been making a mark on the market with their songs that reflect the everyday emotions that a human being goes through. Their recent album is about the sentiments and is relatable to the youth of this generation. The struggle of life and the hope that is still there is what their music is all about.
We had a talk with the five-member band which comprises of Bikram Bashyal, Pravesh Thapa Magar, Lav KC, Kus KC, and Rochak Dahal. This is the story behind their band and what makes their music so lovable by the mass.

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HOW DID YOU GUYS COME TOGETHER TO FORM PAHENLO BATTI MUNI?

BIKRAM: Basically, before the band, everyone was playing their instruments by themselves and working on their own thing. It was later in college where I met Rochak and we started jamming together and working on making music. Also, at the same time, Rochak was composing music with Pravesh who he had known since school. Eventually, the three of us got together and decided to work on some originals, form a band, and launch an album. So, just like that, we met the other guys along our journey and that’s how Pahenlo Batti Muni was formed.
PRAVESH: I used to play metal music before and have been in two metal bands. Eventually, I wasn’t able to continue with them and I wanted to something for a change. That’s when I approached Rochak to start a band to play in pubs. At that time, Rochak said that he had been working on some originals so we decided to work on them rather than playing gigs at the pub.

PBM: It’s a bit complicated talking about the how we have come to be with the current line-up. At first, I used to perform with Bikram at our college and tried to make a few originals. But after college was over, we set out on our own paths and then I met with Pravesh and started working on some originals. So, after some time the both of us called Bikram up and decided to form a band. We had a junior from college who used perform with us during college events, so we asked him to play bass for us and we had another drummer as well. We played a few gigs with them and recorded our first song, Bari Lai. But after that, both of them had their own personal reasons and they couldn’t be with us. We were in search for a bassist and drummer, and luckily, through a friend, we met Lav and Kus, twins that played bass and drums. So, that’s how we’ve come to our current line-up. The band was formed roughly two and half years ago, whereas, it’s been two years with the current line-up.

SO, WHAT ABOUT THE NAME OF THE BAND? HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON PAHENLO BATTI MUNI?
PBM: When we first started out, there used to be load shedding. Most of the time when we were practicing, there used to be no light. We used to practice sitting on top of a bed and that bed had a cupboard above it and there used to be a candle above it which used to give out a yellow light and that’s where the name of the band, Pahenlo Batti Muni, comes from.
ROCHAK: At first, Pravesh approached me to go for gigs at pubs but I never really wanted to perform in pubs, doing cover songs. So, I always tried to push originals and eventually we focused more on making our own music and performing them live. During our initial phases, we didn’t have many songs so we did cover a few songs to make the setlist long, but we have always strived in making our own music and playing them live in front of people.

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IF YOU CAN MENTION, COULD YOU NAME THE BEST AND THE WORST VENUE YOU HAVE PERFORMED AT SO FAR?
PBM: We went to Butwal once for a tour and we had to perform at a venue that looked like a party palace but had a decent stage. During the event, the stage seemed big and everything was set, so we went up all ready to give the audience a show, but then one of the amps was not working and the soundman there didn’t even know how to work the monitors and then the sound didn’t come out right. We had to use another amplifier and everything seemed off. We aren’t really famous and the people there didn’t know anything about us, they were expecting something else and there were a lot of middle aged and old people there and they were requesting all sorts of other popular songs and what not. In terms of sound and the ambience, it was one of our worst gigs ever. It was really cold and the air was full of moisture that it almost corroded the guitar strings. Everything was a mess but it was a whole different experience for everyone and learned something out of it which was good.

KUS: By far one the best shows that we have performed has to be at the Nepal Music Festival. We had an amazing time there; the stage was amazing and the line-up of bands for the evening was amazing as well. Other than that, talking about smaller venues, we have had an amazing time at the Base Camp Music Festival at Evoke as the response from the audience was great. We also had an amazing time performing at Halla!

ROCHAK: Right now, we’ve been having talks within the band and have decided to lessen gigs and focus more on producing an album. We will be collaborating with a few brands and doing small sessions here and there with studio recordings and stuff like that, which you will come to know pretty soon. But like we said, we won’t be doing any big gigs and just focus on making the album. And if we have to do a gig, we will make sure it’s a special one and something amazing for the audience.

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HOW MANY SONGS HAVE TO RELEASED TILL DATE AND WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR THE FUTURE?
LAV: As a band we have 9 originals, but there are a few songs of Rochak that we put in our live sets. Out of the 9, 8 are from the first album and 1 is from the new one that we are working on. The progress of the new album is going well but there still is a lot of composing left to be done. The first album is almost done since all the songs were set beforehand. So, we didn’t get much time to experiment, but try to try out new things and use them as much as we can. It was basically because the songs on the first album were already composed and we just needed put in our inputs to complete it. Our composition process is pretty long since it takes us almost six months to write a proper song. We are really choosy because we keep changing things in the songs before the final output is ready, that’s why it takes a lot of time. Up until now for the first album, Rochak has been writing the songs and we sit together to compose it.

ROCHAK: When I write songs, it’s more like a reflection than anything else. What I’ve felt or what I’ve experienced or am experiencing are what I tend to reflect on and there are a few processes for how I do that. Either I write a poem or a song, or do whatever I can with my experiences so that it is expressed. These reflections are where I take my inspirations from while writing songs. There isn’t a particular theme or scene to the songs that I write, as there aren’t any particular set of things that we experience in life or there isn’t a set way that we see thing or feel things. Because of this, I don’t think the reflections can be limited to a theme or be bounded by something as such.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR STYLE?
PBM: This band was formed after the first song, Bari Lai, which was more like an indie sound and had ambient vibes to it. But we have been experimenting by introducing new elements to our songs by making them sound heavier, putting in some rock influences. By heavy we don’t mean being outright heavy but we have been experimenting with different things here and there. Basically, we look at Rochak’s lyrics and see what it’s trying to express and all we’re trying to do is portray his words. Some of his songs are soft while others are aggressive, some express frustration so it depends on the band on how to shape up the song and bring the best out of it. Some songs need to be heavy and aggressive and some have to be mellow and calm, we believe that these things are what’s grooming the band. We are not bound by a specific genre or are obligated to make music to please the audience, so that means we can be experimenting with our sound and keep evolving.

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WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SO FAR?
PBM: We feel that as a band, one of the biggest challenges is to write a song. The whole process is very tedious and long that we sometimes don’t even want to think about it. It requires a lot of effort from all the members but in the end it’s what the band is all about. Other than that, playing in gigs that are not up to par is another hectic thing that we have to face. I don’t think there are a lot of challenges, we have been having fun with what we’ve been doing and are satisfied with it up till now. It’s just a part of the journey and there will be some ups and downs but it’s mostly how we deal with them. I believe that we are doing fine with whatever that we are doing at the moment.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?
PBM: One of the things that I really like about what we do is that we don’t try to please the crowd and we feel like they actually try to listen to what we are trying to say. There will be people who like our songs and then there are some that like our songs but give us feedback like if we did something more, it would be even better. Such active listeners are people that I really admire who actually give us proper insights and feedback rather than just listening to our songs. I really like how people actually interpret our songs and give us feedback. These feedbacks are also some sort of reflection to ourselves and where we can make improvements. So, I guess that it’s a good thing that we have such a good audience. There are people that critique our songs and we believe such critics are also very precious for the band.

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WHAT HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT IN TERMS OF THE BIGGER PICTURE AS A BAND?
PBM: There isn’t a specific set future but all in all, we really want to contribute in making the music scene evolve. We really want to see the musical aspect to grow in Nepal. There are a lot of artist that still haven’t got the spotlight that they deserve. What we want is that there needs to be a good sound system fit for artists.
Fame will come eventually, but our main motive is that our songs reach out to more audience and want more people to listen to them and understand our music. Just like we have been influenced by bands such as 1974 AD, Nepathya, we want to be on par with such bands and hope that we influence future generations of musicians. All in all, we want to bring something fresh with experimental music for the youth and our main goal is to uplift such music. We want people to listen to good music and get influenced by it and get good vibes.

ANY ADVICE TO THE ASPIRING MUSICIANS AND BANDS WHO LOOK UP TO YOU?
PBM: One advice to all the aspiring musicians is that, try doing some originals and compose your own songs. Cover songs have their own place from a learning perspective but don’t just stick to covering songs. From an artistic perspective, you need to be creative and make your own music. Also, people need to support musicians that are doing their own music and there needs to be more platforms for bands. For new bands, there is definitely going to be a few hurdles down the line but you shouldn’t give up and focus on making something out of your passion.

WORDS: TNM TEAM | PHOTOS: GAURAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR

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