VIBING INDEPENDENTLY: PHOSPHENES
Music is as vast as the open blue seas with endless possibilities. The music scene is not just the mainstream media these days. People are starting to explore and dig deeper into many different genres and have already began to combine two different genres to make something beautiful.
Music has always been a bridge that brings people together despite how the origins and cultures differ. When two or more people with similar taste come together the result of their synchronization can lead to something unique and creative. That is how there came to be the band ‘Phosphenes’; their taste in music brought them together. Without saying much, here is our conversation with the band members – Prajwal Aryal, Abhishek Pokhrel and Aman Karna.
STARTING OFF, HOW DID ‘PHOSPHENES’ AS A BAND CAME TO BE? HOW DID THE BAND FORM?
ABHISHEK: Prior to starting this band, I was doing my own solo projects and so was Prajwal. We both were in the music industry and we had worked with each other before. It was in that midst, Prajwal came up to me one day and asked, “Is it too late to start a band?” I replied it is never too late to do that and in 2016 we both came together and co-wrote a song ‘Hold you tight’. This song is only available in our Soundcloud channel, but this song set us on our journey as the phosphenes.
PRAJWAL: Yes, originally, we started off with two members and through the years we were joined by other members.
HOW DID YOU GUYS COME UP WITH THE NAME OF THE BAND, AS PHOSPHENES IS A VERY UNIQUE NAME?
ABHISHEK: The name was actually suggested by a friend of ours with whom we used to jam up. He recommended the name Phosphenes for our band and when we first heard it, we were immediately drawn to it and we all loved it.
YOU MENTIONED YOU WERE WORKING ON YOUR OWN PROJECTS BEFORE THE BAND AND HAD ALREADY SET YOUR FEET IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WERE YOUR INFLUENCES WHICH LEAD YOU GUYS TO ENTER THIS INDUSTRY?
PRAJWAL: My fascination in music was most likely fueled by great bands such as The Doors and The Beatles. I used to listen to and play Rock and Roll songs almost all the time.
However, just as people say, ‘too much sugar can turn bitter’, I too started getting tired of limiting myself to a single genre. That is when I began to explore other genres and artists which lead me to Damien Rice’s album. His songs gravitated towards me and I started listening more of his songs which made me more curious about the Indie Folk genre he followed. As I went deeper into indie music, my song writing style slowly changed as well.
ABHISHEK: Music has always drawn me towards it. Back in high school, I was very much into pop music and even wrote a song back then in that format. It was soon after that one of my relatives introduced me to the Beatles and I was instantly infatuated with their songs and the feelings they had in them. Long before I got into other indie artists such as Damien Rice and Nick Drake and ultimately changed the way I used to write songs. So in retrospect you could say it was the Beatles who were the most influential to me.
AS WE ARE TALKING ABOUT INDIE MUSIC, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE MUSIC YOU MAKE? IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS INDIE MUSIC?
ABHISHEK: As I explored further into the indie music scene, I came to know that indie music is all about storytelling with a sense of strong emotions and feelings. When we talk of Indie music, it basically means independent music and any band can follow this genre. If we look at the international genres like rock, they have sub genres like alternative rock and math rock. So, in that sense you could say we are an independent pop band.
PRAJWAL: And the thing is, when you are doing indie music, you have a freedom; a freedom to create the music of your desires. That is what indie music, a genre that lets you explore your creativity with a lot of freedom and with a lot of strong emotions in the songs.
AS SOMEONE WHO IS A PART OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY OF NEPAL, IS IT EASY OR DIFFICULT TO ENTER THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IN NEPAL? WHAT ARE THE DIFFICULTIES YOU FACED WHEN JOINED THE INDUSTRY AS PHOSPHENES?
Well at present, the music industry is booming and I think this growth will increase in the coming years too. With the access to the newer technology, it has been relatively easy to showcase the creative projects of artists like us. That is how we started this journey as well. We first started our journey by uploading our song ‘Dust’ to Soundcloud and as our listeners grew, we then released our EP. We created a platform for ourselves with the support of our fans and listeners. And as we began to create new songs, our listeners grew as well.
However, from what we have seen since we started, people will always have a positive response to your creative work but when it’s too endorsing them, they are a bit reluctant. This does not imply to all but there are few of these people in the industry. Basically we felt that the industry wasn’t as welcoming to newcomers or fresh start-ups.
In retrospect we are thankful to our followers and supporters for taking us to the point we are at present without professionally marketing ourselves in the industry. It is through their support that we are motivated to push out new contents and progress as a collective group.
YOU WRITE YOUR OWN SONGS AND COMPOSE YOUR OWN MELODIES FOR THOSE SONGS. COULD YOU TELL US THE PROCESS FOR THIS? IS THERE ANY SPECIFIC METHOD YOU GUYS FOLLOW WHILE WRITING YOUR OWN SONGS?
PRAJWAL: At the initial stages, Abhishek and I used to sit together and start writing our songs but as of now we haven’t been able to sit together and write our songs like we used to due to many personal inconveniences. Now-a-days, we both bring in the songs we have written and the melodies we made separately and try to combine the two to make a better song.
ABHISHEK: That is how we released our EP; we got together and made tunes and melodies and wrote the lyrics to match that. Our songs such as ‘Oh Love’, is among the songs we wrote together. Even though we do it separately and sync them later, the core process hasn’t changed. We start off by finalizing on the chords and after that we form a pattern with those cords. Then we add in melodies and harmonies. This has been the process we follow till date.
CONCLUDING THE CONVERSATION, WITH YOUR RECENT SONG LIKE ‘OH LOVE’ AND YOUR ALBUM GAINING POPULARITY BY DAY, WHAT HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN FORM YOUR FANS AND LISTENERS? IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SAY TO THOSE WHO HAVE SUPPORTED YOU IN THIS JOURNEY? ARE YOU WORKING ON ANY NEW PROJECTS IN THE FUTURE? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?
ABHISHEK: We want to thank our friends and fans who have stood by us since we started. We want to thank Nagesh for the animation video, Ramuna Pun for creating the video, Shebu for creating our album cover, Mamina for creating the artwork for us and all our friends, especially those who have believed in us. That’s how we have created a platform and we want to thank them for this and we believe in their work too. This is how we believe we can progress in this industry; artists helping and supporting one another
We have already started working on a new album and there are some new things we are bringing in this new project. Like how our songs are mostly, if not all, in English and have heavy influences from the English bands, the new album will also try to hold the essence of Nepalese music and melodies. However, being in an indie band we have come to know to have patience with our work as the music we play is not mainstream media so it might take time for our work to reach the bigger mass. In the end it is our goal to reach the heights of not just the Nepalese music industry but making a name in the global music industry as well.
INTERVIEWED BY BAIBHAV SHRESTHA | PHOTOS BY SARAS STHAPIT SHRESTHA