There are few good things that have happened ever since the coronavirus took over the world, but for artists whose creativity is as restless as their passion, this came as a challenge to do more. Darjeeling based band, Meraki, released their first Nepali single on the 15th of May, alleviating many music lover’s lockdown blues.
Meraki is a five-man band comprised of Leewang Dorjay (vocals), Anmol Lomjail (guitars), Jayant Sundas (bass), Jai Rai (keyboard) and Ushang Bomzon (drums).
‘Biswas’ is the first song in the soon-to-be fully Nepali album, a change from their previous single ‘Better Together’ which by itself, a perfect song to keep up spirits during the lockdown. The YouTube description for the song is – “A major factor in everyone’s life, a foundation to any relationship. “Biswas” which means “trust” here is a basic concept of highlighting the deeper essence of love in relationships of any kind.”
ETC speaks to Leewang, the frontman of Meraki, who also won ‘Best Vocalist’ at the Hornbill International Rock Contest 2018, a memorable event since their performance at the HIRC catapulted them to fame in the hills. He discusses the writing process and what the band plans for the year ahead.
He begins by describing how the shift from writing an English song to a Nepali one wasn’t easy. “I realized that even though we are Nepali, it was difficult to write in the language”, says Leewang. “My mom is a writer, so she helped to make the lyrics sound grammatically correct. I did the tuning and lyrics but everything else, it was our guitarist, Anmol who did it. He sat down for days, mixing and mastering the track.”
Biswas has the rare ambient quality of making one feel as if they are sitting outside, ruminating on life and all that comes with it – which is a great feature, since many aren’t able to leave their houses.
It’s also their first step to Nepali music. “Next 16th, we’re releasing another track, Tadha Bhaye Pani”.
The lockdown imposed due to the pandemic has many feeling dismal about the situation, especially those who prefer to watch live music at restaurants, pubs and festivals. But Meraki has a grand plan to cure those blues. The band plans to release a song every 15th or 16th, for the next seven months, to bring the final tally up to eight songs which would be concluded as a full album by the end of the year.
Then, if the world has carefully prevented more positive cases of the COVID-19, they plan to perform and as with their previous shows in the hills, there is hope that it will be an excellent one.
Still, it is a wonder that the band is releasing music even when being socially distanced from one another and being confined to their homes. Leewang explains that they’ve all been working well online. “Currently, I’m based in Delhi but before coming here, we recorded everything possible and only mixing and mastering were left.”
The hills have always been famous for its tea, scenery and musicians. Every other person one meets, has their own story with music but when there are so many bands and solo artists, surely the competition must be brutal? Leewang disagrees. “Kurseong, Darjeeling… every place has many musicians but we all support each other when it comes to music. We don’t drag each other down. Plus, I’m a people person, so I have a lot of friends who push and criticize. The band takes honest criticism constructively.”
Are you ready for the next Meraki song to take you on a journey, as unique as only the band can create? We hope so.