YOUTH IN ACTION: CHAKACHAK
They might look like bunch of guys strumming on their guitars and beating on their drums, but when you see past what they look like, what you see is what they do. A radical name and a new face in the line, Chakachak is a whole new level of “infotainment”. Social awareness through their lyrics is what they aim for along with groovy head banging beats. This month for TNM Profile, we sat down with the band and gained some insight on their mission. Here’s how it went.
GIVE US A PRELUDE. WHAT WAS THERE BEFORE CHAKACHAK?
Before Chakachak, we were a bunch of people in the music circle. Biraj and Bikrant are siblings and they used to jam together a lot. Both of them had the passion for music. When Bikrant finished his Bachelors from Bangalore and came back, he thought, why not get together as a band. But he had no idea what to do, nor how to do. With a vague picture of what they want to do after, they started to look for other people to join in. They decided that the genre they wanted to do, needed to do, was something like Rage Against The Machine because that would help in portraying a message. With that, they started to look for someone who can sing like that, and stumbled upon Multi dai (his real name is Ashutosh).
Multi used to do a lot of RATM covers back then and he too wanted to do something original. When the three go together to jam up, it felt like they were doing something for the country. By the end of the first jam session, it felt like a jigsaw falling into place.
After that they met Sabin, who was the bassist for a band named The Inception at the time. What they feel about making music is, the art of expression should be there no matter what music is. And when they saw Sabin on stage, they felt like he could join us in our journey. They went to chat up with him, to see where he comes from, because in the end, whether music or not, it’s about brotherhood and not just musicians coming together. Turns out he is a really innocent, sweet guy and there it all clicked again! That’s how they became we now.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE THE MUSIC YOU MAKE?
Music is about energy for us. We contemplate on what we’re making our music about. We decide and we research. If you have heard the lyrics of our songs, they are always filled with facts. Our songs are all about social causes, events, or anything that affects us socially, politically, and culturally. We are more like a free flowing band. It’s not like, we make a planner or something regarding what song to write.
For example, Biraj sits down to play his guitar and think on a theme. The video of our song “Sabdha”, he visualized that in his mind and strummed the strings trying to portray the words into music. We all discussed the theme and then Multi came in to put the words to go with the music. We don’t write the lyrics beforehand; instead as we write our music, then go on creating the words for our song. We do this so that we retain our authenticity. And while doing the practices, we go around doing touch-ups in our lyrics, and find ways to better express our messages.
“And when people say we sound very much like RATM, we actually feel good. To be compared to someone you look up to is a compliment. But then there are also people who call us copycats. We aren’t copying.”
MANY SAY YOU THAT GUYS DO SOUND LIKE RATM. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?
Honestly speaking, when people say we sound like RATM, we feel really good! RATM is our major inspiration. We do what we do because we are still so enthused by them. RATM is like the god of our genre. What people don’t understand is that it’s not just music. It’s the way they make their music, the way they go political. We are really convinced by that. And when people say we sound very much like RATM, we actually feel good. To be compared to someone you look up to is a compliment. But then there are also people who call us copycats. We aren’t copying.
To be honest, if you are looking for “originality”, one needs to go for Nepalese instruments. This genre doesn’t even belong to this area.
YOU GUYS SEEM TO BE IN THE SCENE AS CHAKACHAK FOR QUITE A SHORT SPAN OF TIME, BUT YOU ALREADY HAVE AN ALBUM OUT. WOULD YOU SAY YOU GOT LUCKY?
More than the time span, we believe in how clear one’s vision is, how much effort one puts in. It’s been a year of Chakachak, but we have put in hard work for ten years. It’s about the intensity of commitment and vision and dedication. And also, what we think is making music isn’t about luck.
People say “wow, you are touring with Underside”, but they have never seen what happened behind all of that.
This band, this has been our dream since childhood, we have been into it because we wanted to do something big. All musicians struggle, but it all narrows down to vision. It’s almost like running a company. People call music their passion but overlook the moment it hits professionalism. There needs to be a strategy, a plan on how to run a band, which lacks in most Nepalese bands.
And that’s why most people think we got lucky.
But clearly, that’s not the case here! However, we’d say we did get lucky in terms of the group we have, we have positive energy flowing around us – that’s how lucky we are.
YOU HAVE THE ATTENTION OF VETERANS LIKE COBWEB AND TUMBLEWEED. AND NOW YOU’LL BE TOURING WITH UNDERSIDE. ARE YOU GUYS NERVOUS? HOW ARE YOU GUYS COPING WITH IT?
We grew up listening to Mercedes Benz by Cobweb. A couple of years ago, when we used to get into clubs in Thamel and see them in action, we’d feel the heat of a true “fan” surging in us and think to ourselves that someday we’ll be there at the corner, strumming the guitar together. Now that we are actually getting to do that, obviously it feels like dream come true and exciting.
But it also is a lot of pressure. Then again, we’re just working through it and putting our best foot forward.
“SABDHA” IS YOUR FIRST MUSIC VIDEO AND IT SEEMS TO DEAL WITH HOW SOCIETY HAS A WAY OF CAGING ARTISTIC EXPRESSION. ANY REASON OF CHOOSING THIS THEME?
“Sabdha” is indeed about how society is and how it has been confining artists to certain ideas only. Not just artist, anyone with any passion, society has a way curtailing their wings. We have been so accustomed to this incarceration so much so that this is how we have started thinking. We have forgotten to acknowledge our dreams and passion and what we can do best. What we have tried to convey in the video for “Sabdha” is that all of us have our dreams and capabilities and passion in us. We are, in a way pleading to the society to no longer tie up in their “right and wrong” and let us be in our devices. How many of us are really happy? Look around in the streets and see if everyone enjoys what they have and ask if they are really doing what they love? Or are they still caught up in the yoke of society’s expectations.
The other thing that we portrayed in our music video is that right to expression is a must and that we shouldn’t hesitate to speak out for what we stand on and voice our opinion.
IT ALSO SEEMS THAT YOU HAVE A WHIMSICAL STAGE PRESENCE. WHY’S THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU?
The stage is like an act for us; an experience, out of the comfort zone. People ask us why we are doing this. We say because we felt like it. We want our audience to see an act, a movie, because our work is message based and hence we work in a sequence. We have a plan, an unfolding –that will reveal itself in time to come. What’s the fun in going to stage performances if you are going to see the same thing you see on T.V., Youtube?
The audience has paid a certain amount to be there, it’s our job to give them the entertainment worth that price. We don’t compromise on our sound, or our stage presence.
SINCE WE’RE TALKING ABOUT WHIMSICAL THINGS, CHAKACHAK IS A RAD NAME. HOW DID YOU SETTLE FOR IT?
When we finally came together as a band, we needed a name. We sat down, discussed names, and we wanted something that was catchy, easy, and also that portrayed us. We first decided on “Jatra” but it sounded very aggressive. We also wanted a groovy name, something to go along the beats and that’s when Biraj said the name should be edkamai chakachak. And just then, Chakachak was chakachak for us.
FINALLY, WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE FUTURE FOR YOU?
We have a lot for the future. We are a band who seeks for social awareness via our songs, we always look for or refer to events that have happened and have affected us in any way. Like we said earlier, personally we have all been in the scene for a long time, so we are growing in terms of music. But music isn’t all for us. We have an inner drive that makes us do what we do. We are the youth and it’s our duty to be aware of what is happening around us and also make our audience aware of it. That’s what’s in for the future.
INTERVIEWED BY ABHIGYA SUBEDI
PHOTOGRAPHED BY GAURAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR