Bibek Waiba Lama ‘Vek’ has his way with the crowd. Whenever he gets on stage, the crowd goes wild. They sing with him. They dance with him. They even catch him when he jumps into them. For someone who has only been doing these shows for the past two years, this is the biggest compliment he could get.
Lama, popularly known by his alias Vek, made his name through the singing reality show The Voice of Nepal. But, since then, he has not looked back. Using that as a springboard, Vek has taken the music scene by storm. With his relatable lyrics, upbeat music and charming nature, he hopes to take his music to the world in years to come.
“I’ve only started,” he says. “There’s a lot more I have to give. I’m excited.”
An ordinary start
Vek started out in music like most millennials who grew up in Kathmandu. Influenced by his brother, he listened to a lot of rock music during his teenage years. As he grew older, he started to develop a knack for pop and punk rock. Even though he rarely sang at school, he was selected by Radio Nepal to sing at one of its programmes.
“I don’t know but that was a fun experience.”
Even after that, he rarely sang in school. It was not until high school that he really started to try his hand at singing. It all started when he was part of a rock band where he played the bass guitar and was a back vocalist. But one day, their lead singer didn’t show up and Vek saved the day.
“I sang Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf. It was a lot of fun. Since then, I started to sing regularly.”
Vek then started enjoying singing. But, he knew that after high school, he needed to do something. He applied to go to Japan, but unfortunately, got rejected for a visa. He was upset, but he used the time he had to learn things on the internet. He started to broaden his music library and listened to more artists.
“I also used the time to sing and upload songs on YouTube. I was just to pass time, but little did I know that doing so would be the turning point in my life.”
A career with covers
His covers were uploaded on blogs and that resulted in him being contacted by a studio. The studio wanted to help him.
“They said they’d record my cover songs in their studio and all I had to do was pay them. It wasn’t much back then, but for someone like me who came from a middle-class family, it was quite hard to accumulate the money.”
But, somehow he did and he recorded Passenger’s Let Her Go. The video did quite well and Vek recorded other songs with them.
Gradually, he started to gain confidence and continued doing more cover songs. The same studio had offered him a contract too, but as it was not one that benefitted him, he declined.
“That is when Class X happened and how I’m glad they came calling.”
Vek signed with Class X Presentation around seven years ago. And since the start, it pushed him to do originals. But, he did not want to as he knew he would struggle to write.
“It was hard during the start, but then, I got by heartbroken and that triggered something inside me. I know it’s clichéd, but I guess you really need to get your heart broken to write meaningful songs,” he says.
Voice of Nepal and afterwards
As Vek was working on his originals, he went to the Voice of Nepal’s blind audition. He was sceptical at first, but his elder brother asked him to at least try. He says that his brother told him how it might work out for the better and help him kickstart his career. And, that is exactly what happened.
“I think it was a great decision. I got to learn a lot of things from the coaches there. I remember that time fondly because it made be better.”
During his journey to the semifinals, he says, he learnt how to deal with the camera, and about how to get about on stage. That is something he remembers every time he gets on stage right now.
Following the show, Vek started to get a lot of shows and he also started to release his singles. The first was Kina that did quite well. Then came Lai Bari Lai and Eklai Jiuna Sike, which made him quite popular amongst the young crowd. The reason: he had sad songs they could listen to and contemplate about and he also had songs that they could jump up and dance to.
“The love I’ve received is truly humbling. I feel blessed and I will never take this for granted.”
That is why he is also giving emphasis to performance. Realising that a lot of Nepali audiences were bored during shows, he decided to add a backtrack and dancers to raise the energy of these shows.
“They pay money and if they can’t even say that they enjoyed the show, I’m not doing it right. I looked at international artists who put on a show for their fans and I felt I had to try it.”
For that, Vek consulted T Sam Lama and the two have been entertaining the crowd ever since. To spice things up, he has also started to jump into the crowd from the stage.
“I’ve seen rock stars do it in films and even in Nepal. Just wanted to try out how it feels and trust me it feels good.”
A few months ago he has also released his 28-track debut album Sampanna. While the reviews he got from fans has been good, he feels that to really promote an album, one needs to do tours and due to Covid-19, it has not been possible.
“Just as when things were getting better, we’ve been hit by the virus again. Hopefully, this subsides and I’ll be back touring.”