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the eloquent elements

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This month we talk to the ‘The Elements’, a band that’s bursting into the Nepalese music scene with amazing talent. Since the band’s first release nine months back, The Elements—with Ishan R. Onta as the lead vocalist, Dipesh Gurung on drums and Raunaq Singh Adhikari also as the bass guitarist, and guitar — have been moving nonstop. Three versatile individuals who are a perfect mixture of raw talent and energetic entertainment hope to bring the same elements to ‘The Elements’. This dynamic and energetic band aim to bring variety to the changing Nepali music audience. Having released 8 original tracks so far under Arbitrary originals, they have already gained popularity within 9 months of the first release. Here, the band talks about their musical journey so far.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST START WITH YOUR MUSIC INDIVIDUALLY?
Raunaq: It’s been 15 odd years.
Dipesh: 15 years.
Ishan: I started out with playing the violin in grade 2. That was the first musical instrument I ever played.

HOW DID YOU PROGRESS WITH YOUR MUSIC LATER AND WHEN DID YOU FIGURE OUT YOUR STYLE?
Ishan: As a kid, music was just a part of me. I was still unaware of its broader scope. After violin, I picked up a guitar when I was in 7th grade when it was gifted to me. It was then I felt the vibe it gave me and that was it.
Dipesh: Back in those days, I was a resident student in Nepal police school. As any other sixth grader, I used to use the instruments of the geometry set and try to make whatever works. That’s how I learned. Later I started playing the guitar and even tried singing. But it was in high school that I was actually serious about playing the drums.
Raunaq: Music for me started with cassettes and eventually I picked up a guitar which belonged to my brother (the same guitar used in “Tesaile hidey ma”). I also learned keyboards and drums and many more in the years ahead. Ultimately, I chose that I want to play the guitar and it hasn’t changed since.

HOW DID YOU GUYS COME TOGETHER TO FORM A BAND?
Ishan: Raunaq and I knew each other through mutual friends.
As for Dipesh, Raunaq and he used to play in the same band. And fate brought us together again at law school, and it’s been 5 years since we started jamming together. The band is pretty new though. It’s been only eight months since we released our first song as ‘The Elements’.

GLOBALIZATION HAS IMPACTED
A LOT ON THE TASTE AND
PREFERENCES OF MUSIC.
CHANGE IS NEVER CONSTANT.
OUR MOTTO IS SIMPLE “KAAM
GARAA, FAL KO AASH NAGARA”.

WHY ‘THE ELEMENTS’? WHAT’S THE BACKGROUND?
Ishan: As a matter of fact, there is a pretty interesting story behind it.
Raunaq: Actually, we needed a name so bad because we were already a band, we had the content too, and the only thing missing was a band name.
Ishan: So we were just jamming at our place like any other day, and this need hit us. We had to come up with a name that night anyhow. We brainstormed together and came up with a few Nepali names. Among those, ‘Lalteen’ was our top priority so we thought maybe we could sleep on it. But something still didn’t feel right so we chucked that idea too. Finally, a friend of ours stepped in to help us and asked us to close our eyes for a while and think of something and say the first thing that comes to our mind when we open our eyes. The three of us said earth, space, and fire in order. What is the commonality between them? These are the elements. Although we’d thought of Nepalifying the name ‘Tatwa’ didn’t give us the feels. Thus, ‘The Elements’. Mission accomplished.

HOW DO YOU COME TOGETHER TO MAKE A PIECE AS THREE DIFFERENT INDIVIDUALS AND DECIDE ON A COMMON THEME TO WORK ON YOUR SONG?
Dipesh: First, Ishan comes up with some lines and we toss it around and add some more lines to it.
Raunaq: The theme is really important, then come to the lyrics on the relevant theme.
Ishan: The meaning conveyed through our songs really matter to us. It has to connect with us then we add music to it. Most of our songs have abstract meaning and gives a journey kind of vibe. Having said that, it’s an artistic process so there’s no one way to it. It varies every time.
Raunaq: For example, for “Tesaile hidey ma”, which is also our first song, we were together when we wrote the lyrics but we didn’t know what direction the song was heading to. Finally, when we added the line “Tesaile hidey ma” and there it was.
Another example is the song “Baru ma haschu” which is based on suicidal awareness. It was around the time when we lost great musicians like Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Yama Buddha and so on. We thought let’s write of something light and meaningful at the same time. Even the video was very well thought of because dogs are the happiest beings around us. So let’s look at life on the brighter side, through a dog’s world.

band-2

BUT ABOVE ALL, THE TOPIC/THEME HAS TO INTRIGUE THE THREE OF US.
ANY NEW KINDS OF STUFF YOU’RE WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Ishan: Yes…we’re working on a new music video. Hopefully, it’ll be out by next week. We’ve got a lot of new content coming out in the following months.
Raunaq: Since we’re also new to this recording industry, going to the studio, finding the right person to do the job. It’s also a new journey for us.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF ARBITRARY IN ALL OF THIS?
Raunaq: ‘The Elements’ is signed on the Arbitrary. They basically look after all our recording, music video, production, etc.
Ishan: As a band, we just have to focus on making our music and not go through the hassle of the arranging the rest.
Raunaq: A lot of musicians/bands out there cannot afford to record songs but have the talent and the content. That is where Arbitrary steps in and provided them with the platform so that it’s for the band/musician to solely focus on their music.
Ishan: To put it briefly, they act as facilitators to our vision.

HOW HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN FROM THE NEPALI AUDIENCE SO FAR?
Ishan: The response has gradually changed within the past 7-8 months. People actually come looking particularly for ‘The Elements’ now. When we had just started playing, we were just another band who did bar gigs and cover songs because that was what people wanted to hear. But after our originals, I think people sort of know our sound. So that’s a huge deal for us.
Raunaq: If I were to quantify it, 2 out of 100 people absolutely love our music which is sort of life-changing for us. I feel like people either love our music or don’t, there’s no in between.
Ishan: That is how we aim to move forward. For example, we got sick of doing bar gigs and there was one point when we were eventually like, that is not what we want to be doing. But we do have a few cover songs which we added our own twist to. For us, whether a cover song or our original we tend to leave a part of us in it. We go big or go home.

WE LOVE OUR WORK;
NOBODY’S FORCING US TO
DO THIS. SO AS LONG AS
YOU’RE DOING IT OUT OF
LOVE, YOU’VE MADE IT

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELVES IN FIVE YEARS?
*everyone giggles*
Ishan: Five years is too damn long, to be honest. If I had to say, just getting better at what we’re doing and not lose the motivation is the ultimate goal.

ANY PLANS ON DIVERSIFYING YOUR MUSIC GENRE?
Ishan: Yeah, just last week I was talking to the boys about recording a psychedelic piece. We like to keep ourselves open minded as long as it connects with us.
Raunaq: Of course, agree with Ishan. There’s nothing limiting us as long as we’re doing it from an inside urge.

THIS QUESTION MIGHT SOUND A LITTLE RUDE BUT FOR THE SAKE OF OUR READERS, DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE IT IN THE NEPALI MUSIC INDUSTRY?
Dipesh: For now, I feel like we can see ourselves up there.
Raunaq: We love our work; nobody’s forcing us to do this. So as long as you’re doing it out of love, you’ve made it.
Ishan: Looking at the response in the past 8-9 months, it would be safe to say that we’ve already made it.

Do you think the Nepali music audience is changing?
Dipesh: Definitely. Our music industry is becoming more dynamic.
Raunaq: Globalization has impacted a lot on the taste and preferences of music. Change is never constant. Our motto is simple “Kaam garaa, fal ko aash nagara”.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE ‘THE ELEMENTS’ TO THE UNINITIATED TNM READER? AND ANY MESSAGE YOU’D LIKE TO CONVEY FROM YOUR SIDE.
Raunaq: We’re actually very comical people in real life, unlike our music. Sometimes we make fun of our own songs.
Ishan: As a band and individuals, we’re on our own journey. We just want to make this journey as peaceful and entertaining as possible. Take no stress and give none. Let’s do it with a good heart and honest intention.
Raunaq: One request to the Nepali audience, give it a listen at least once. Like it or not, that’s your choice. But do listen to Nepali music. We strictly write in the Nepali language because we want to contribute to the Nepalese music industry.

WORDS: KUSUM KALIKOTE | PHOTOS: GAURAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR

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