Bipul Chettri’s reverberating resonance

Bipul Chettri and the Travelling Band performs during Nepal Literature Festival in Lakeside, Pokhara. Photo: Nepal Literature Festival
Bipul Chettri and the Travelling Band perform during the Nepal Literature Festival in Lakeside, Pokhara. Photo: Nepal Literature Festival

Pokhara, February 27

On February 19, singer-songwriter Bipul Chettri took the stage in Lakeside, Pokhara to loud cheers from the audience. Chettri, along with Bipul Chettri and the Travelling Band, were performing during the 11th edition of the Nepal Literature Festival. The cheers got louder with each successive rendition of the Chettri’s hits like Wildfire, Syndicate, Asaar, Siriri and Mountain High.

The band delivered a tight and flawless performance. Hundreds of the audience were gathered to witness Chettri live in concert, which was perhaps one of the most anticipated shows in the entire festival. And undoubtedly, the wait proved to be worthwhile.

The band, which performed for almost two hours, did not hit a single wrong note or encounter any errors. Their confidence and energy on stage showcased the high level of musical understanding among the band members. Each member was clear about what they needed to do and how during the performance. The way they covered the stage and engaged the audience in every song, encouraging them to clap and sing along, added life to the concert. The crowd repeatedly called for an encore during songs like Syndicate, Wildfire, and Aashish. However, due to the strict schedule, the band couldn’t comply.

Besides Chettri’s songwriting skills and the melodies he puts in his songs, he is also loved for his stage performance. His aura and performance captivate the audience in such a way and people who have watched him before come back wanting more.

Although Chettri has performed hundreds of live concerts in different parts of the world, he still feels highly strung before the performance, and the concert during the Nepal Literature Festivals was no exception. For Chettri, the live concert is something that he reckons is one of the most beautiful aspects of music.

“Despite having years of experience, I go through mixed feelings of nervousness and excitement before every performance,” Chettri says. “I think such feelings will never disappear.”

The worries about whether the sound will be good and if the crowd will enjoy the performance pose such feelings to Chettri. But the mood changes after he sees how the crowd responds to him after performing a couple of songs, and when the audience begins participating in those songs, his nervousness disappears to a greater extent. 

“To some extent, the nervousness exists till the last song,” he says.  “But, the relaxed and satisfied feelings after the good show is a thing that keeps driving me to do more and more shows.”

Becoming a superstar

Bipul Chettri and the Travelling Band. Photo: Facebook/Bipul Chettri
Bipul Chettri and the Travelling Band. Photo: Facebook/Bipul Chettri

It has been a long time since Bipul Chettri did his first stage show.

“I was in grade 3 when I first took the stage,” he says. “My music teacher pushed me to get up and sing.”

The push along with a small pep talk then helped him get on stage to sing Bob Marley’s Buffalo Soldier. He did that for fun but little did he know he would one day become a household name in northeast India and Nepal.

“My father was an inspiration too. The way he put his heart into music pushed me to become a musician myself,” he says.

Chettri’s first professional live concert took place in 2015 in Calm Restaurant, Kathmandu, after releasing his debut album Sketches of Darjeeling in 2014. The success of the debut album not only gave him a name and fame but also opened an avenue to form a band and do live shows. 

“After releasing Sketches of Darjeeling, considering its growing popularity, I started getting a lot of calls for the live shows, and the situation compelled me to form a band,” says Chettri.  

Since Bipul Chettri did not have a band back then, he called Pranaya Gurung, who currently plays guitar in his band, and told him that he needed to form a band as soon as possible. Afterwards, the duo started looking for suitable musicians and formed a band.     

“While selecting the members we looked for someone who had musicianship and musicality. These two things were our main priority,” says Chettri.

Evolution of live shows

A lot has changed since then. The stage’s setting, lights, sound and the crowd everything has changed. And with that, Bipul Chettri and The Travelling Band have changed the way they perform too.

The live show of Bipul Chettri and The Travelling Band is flawless and worth watching not merely because they have good songs but also due to their continuous practice and dedication to ensuring their performance is top-notch every time. 

“We practice at least once a week,” says Chettri. “If the concerts are approaching, we practice even more.”   

Chettri further says that they practice to polish their muscle memory and sometimes even to recall songs.

Bipul Chettri and the Travelling Band — which features Prince Nepali on sarangi, Pranaya Gurung on guitar, Rahul Rai on bass, Aman Rathore on drums, Shivam Kharel on keys, Binaya Amatya on sound engineering and Sonam Tasi on band management — has done numerous of national and international tours. However, Chettri does not find much of a difference in performing in different venues and countries.

“Everything is the same, the difference is just the place.”

Regarding performing live in Nepal he says the country has a lovely vibe which is why he loves coming back over and over again.

“Our music has a good fan base in Nepal. Since our songs are Nepali, we find ourselves more relevant in Nepal,” he says.

Chettri believes that live performances are more than just presentations to an audience; he sees them as the ultimate achievement for musicians. He argues that singing solely in the controlled environment of a studio is insufficient to fulfil the role of a true performer. According to him, the genuine assessment of a performer’s abilities occurs on stage.

“Studio work has its own beauty; it is an important creative process. However everyone, with the help of technology, can sing in the studio but singing in live shows is a different thing; it is not everyone’s cup of tea,” says Chettri. 

Bipul Chettri Photo: Instagram/ Bipul Chettri
Bipul Chettri Photo: Instagram/ Bipul Chettri

So far, Chettri has released three albums, Sketches of Darjeeling in 2014, Maya in 2016 and Samaya in 2021. This means Chettri has an elaborate list of songs, making it challenging to choose which ones to include in the setlist.

The band’s selection process for the setlist considers various factors such as the timing of the performance, the audience’s mood, the ambience of the venue, and the other bands scheduled to perform. Despite the numerous options, there is one song that Chettri is adamant about including in the setlist: Wildfire, the song that marked the beginning of Chettri’s professional singing career.

While being asked about his future, he replied, “Just music and more music.”

Chettri believes that music is infinite. “The more you do, the more you live.”

“Music is the best drug,” he concludes.

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Prasun Sangroula is an Onlinekhabar correspondent, mainly covering arts, society and sports.

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