“ONE ON ONE WITH BIPUL CHETTRI”
By- Palzor Machungpa
If you have not heard people sing along to a Bipul Chettri song then there is a fat chance that you may have been living under a rock. From taxi cabs to parties and picnics Bipul Chettri’s music works for everyone regardless of the age limit. Before he came in the music scene I hate to admit it but Nepali music was a sinking ship. There were some devoted followers who followed it but no one and I mean no one has managed to keep the listeners hook to the radio and their stereo box for a Nepali song like Bipul Chettri. He came and he conquered. One album old and already a household name, Bipul Chettri does it the old fashioned way, by always making music from the heart and speaking truth from a place in the heart which is universal and honest. And this truth has resonated with his devoted fans from all across the globe.
In this exclusive interview with Cisum’s Palzor Machungpa, Bipul Chettri talks about his latest and poetic music video for “Dhadelo (Wildfire)” and about his future projects.
(WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!)
Q) Your newest video for the song “Dhadelo” is already garnering praises and appreciation from fans across the country. How did you come up with the idea of making such a unique yet completely relatable music video?
We were approached by Asis Rai from Polka Studios, a group of very young but extremely talented people based in the UK. They said they were huge fans and wanted to create a video by partnering with us. From seeing their earlier body of work, we were deeply impressed with their capabilities and decided to go ahead with it. The video is a mix of free hand 2D pencil animation and some live action rotoscopy, an extremely labour intensive process, which eventually took them almost 18 months to complete with approximately 6000 odd hand drawn pages we’ve been told. We just gave them a gist of the kind of look we wanted and gave them full artistic freedom to do what they felt was right, as we feel that artistes should be given a free hand to do to put their ideas on paper. So the whole narration and interpretation of the video is actually their vision of the song.
Q) Young and aspiring singer/songwriters from Sikkim, Darjeeling, and Kalimpong look up to you, as you have paved the path for future generations who want to make native Nepali music. What advice do you have to give to them?
Our part of the hills have so much talent that if every single one of them decided to take up music seriously, we would have a glut of artists in the industry. Having said that, I am just an album old and very new in this industry as well so all I can say is to be true to your art and most importantly, enjoy what you do.
Q) How did you motivate yourself to release your music? Was it something that you always wanted to do?
I had no plans to make an album at all. It all happened by accident. After I wrote Wildfire, I casually uploaded it on the music platform, SoundCloud where it just took a life of its own. I felt compelled to write some more which eventually culminated into the EP ‘Sketches of Darjeeling’.
Q) Nepali music was a sinking ship before you came, many one hit wonders came and went but no-one managed to hook the listeners like you did. How do you manage to surprise us every time you release something?
Music is very subjective, so I clearly do not know how people have turned to my music but when I write, I do so without thinking much about what people will think but rather try and create something which I would enjoy listening to. So for me, I feel songwriting is a very selfish mode of expressing oneself. Once you present it to the public, it is out of your hand. You just leave it to the listeners to either love it or hate it. Thankfully, we have had some very good response till now.
Q) Sikkim has got musicians coming out of its ears. Everyone wants to record a song. Some people do it for the ladies while some people do it for their hobbies. But one out of every ten of them is a genuine musician who just wants to make music and live for it. What do you want to say to that one person?
I don’t think it is only Sikkim. It is now a worldwide phenomenon with the easy availablity of the tools to do so. For that one serious musician, As I have already mentioned above, stay true to your art and let it take you where it leads you to. One cannot force people to appreciate one’s body of work.
Q) Why do you think music is not taken seriously by our society? I mean “making music for a living” is not a thing here in our place. Why do you think musicians and writers and poets are not taken seriously as an engineer or a doctor?
Music in out part of the world mostly has always been taken casually as a career; not only music but sports as well. For most people, an engineer, a doctor or a corporate job will give them more chances of landing a job which in turn would secure them a regular source of income. But I think the mindset is slowly changing even though it is still an evolving process.
Q) Every songwriter needs an inspiration to write from. What is yours?
There are som many. I take inspiration from people, everyday life, nature, home, the mountains, our old folk sounds etc.
Q) If you were to go back in time and give a 12-year old Bipul Chettri an advice, what advice would you give to him?
That’s a good question. I guess I would have told him to read more. (smiles)
Q) Why do you still work as a teacher? You have accomplished so much as a musician. Why not be a full-time musician?
I have been a music teacher much before I started writing and releasing my music. So it is something that I enjoy doing and also answers your earlier question of having a regular income. I am just lucky that in my case, I am working in a area which has got to do with music education.
Q) Lastly, can you fill us in about your future endeavours? (Hint: Your next album or a song?)
The upcoming album is called ‘Maya’ and is almost complete. It has eight songs and we should be ready for release this summer. Apart from that, we are busy lining up concerts and some small tours around various countries.
‘Maya’ Promo: http://bit.ly/1Z5L0gY