LIVING THE DREAM: SWOOPNA SUMAN
The music industry is being blessed by the involvement of more and more artists. From the unique covers like Ukali Chadaula to fresh originals like K Saaro Ramri Bhako 21 year old Swoopna Suman is gaining popularity. The thing he stays true to is what he knows which is relating to people who listen to his music. We had a talk with the man himself about his journey from when he started as a kid to his future plans and everything in between. The fit appears to be perfect with his artistic name. The takeaway we got from talking to him was that he knows the kind of artist he wants to be and he’s a man of the people.
Tell us how you got into music.
When I was in fourth grade, I was amongst the few students selected to go to India to perform. The show was a play and we had to act on the Ramayana group. Also, it was on the auspicious day of Saibaba’s birthday and it was in a place called Puttaparthi. We sung prayer hymns, even if we didn’t actually know how to sing.
When it came to my turn, everyone seemed to have made an impression. The one month that I stayed there, every day, I was asked to sing by people who had heard me sing. Even after I came back the school enrolled me in various singing competitions, where I received a lot of positive responses. That’s when I could feel like I could sing.
And what about when you started to perform professionally, did you have an idea that this was what you wanted to do from the beginning or did you put a lot of thought into pursuing this career?
I always knew I was going to sing. I liked singing. I also developed a passion for reading novels and that became the inspiration to write some of my original songs. I was enrolled in an army hostel and I couldn’t do much physical work, I always had problems doing it but I was always thrilled by creativity and exercises that focused on the creative side of people rather that the physical exercise. So, naturally I was very good in English and story writing. So, I knew what I was good at then and from then I aspired to become a singer/songwriter.
What do you think about the music industry in Nepal? How has it evolved through the years?
Like so many other things, the music industry has become globalized. Thanks to the Internet a video uploaded in one part of the world can be watched by millions of people worldwide. In the past, to showcase your work was very difficult and most songs that were famous was from movies or you had to be featured on television. The internet has its pros and cons but it is a great platform to launch an artist. Also, I think people are coming up with more original and unique work in Nepal as well. If we can incorporate all sorts of music from the various cultures and communities all over Nepal it can open great avenues and create career prospects. In that context, I started doing English covers first and then Nepali covers and also some of my original works. I received good feedback from them and in the comments I could see that youngsters who had no idea about the song I was covering started to listen to it.
You are now involved with Channel Arbitrary as a signed artist? How did that happen?
It’s an interesting story. I used to work in a recording studio called Karma Records. I had published some of my original songs from Karma Records and also some covers. However, we had a little misunderstanding so I left. After that I found myself between a rock and a hard place. I had to start from the bottom again because all my accounts and my work had to be deleted but I was uncertain about the idea of pursuing music because a lot of the time and energy that went into the work I did for Karma Records was wasted.
All I knew was music and singing so I decided to give it one more shot. Then I started to do gigs at the Victory Lounge and other places as such. One day I was performing and the manager, who was also the CEO of Channel Arbitrary, called me. He told me what Channel Arbitrary was and what they were doing. I liked the concept and I signed the contract and ever since then I have been doing my work from there.
I always felt like my lyrics were off in some way. I was criticized by a lot of people as well but after I heard Ed Sheeran, I got a lot of inspiration on what I can write about. His songs always reflected the simplest of things but it was always portrayed in a relatable way.
What does it take to be a unique artist while doing covers of original songs?
Doing covers doesn’t mean you copy each and everything from the original song. You can put your own style to it as long as it doesn’t ruin the original songs because it should be respected as it was intended. Songs, whether it be original or a cover, should reflect the artist’s personality, otherwise what is the point in listening to the artist.
What have you planned for the future?
I have always considered myself to be lucky because my friends and family have always encouraged me and supported my decision to be in the music industry. And I am able to think about the future because of that. I have a contract with Arbitrary for 3 years and still there is time till that expires. I am also involving myself in a movie as a music producer/composer. I have plans for the future and am also releasing some of my original songs. I am also planning to continue my studies in music after a few months. If all goes well, I would like to be a music director in the Nepali music scene.
What/who are your inspirations and how would you describe your style?
Talking about Nepali artists I am a huge fan of Narayangopal’s legendary music. I also like Trishala Gurung and Nattu. However, the artist that inspired me most when I was starting to write my songs was Ed Sheeran. I always felt like my lyrics were off in some way. I was criticized by a lot of people as well but after I heard Ed Sheeran, I got a lot of inspiration on what I can write about. His songs always reflected the simplest of things but it was always portrayed in a relatable way. From then I realized that it was not about writing big and difficult words but making the songs as relatable as possible. The first song I wrote after I had researched on Ed Sheeran was ‘K Saaro Ramri Bhako’ for which I got a lot of positive feedback from.
You’ve gained a lot of recognition now, how is it working out for you?
I feel glad that I have fans that love my work and also some sort of pride because I had put a lot of hard work into being where I am today. Even when I am walking on the roads people see me and talk to me and tell me that I am doing good work. It makes me happy but sometimes I am near my house shopping for vegetables, with messed up hair and trousers and people ask for photos and I am carrying vegetables or milk which is a little awkward. But it is all good.
WORDS: SHREYA SANGROULA | PHOTOS: PRITAM CHHETRI