For the 22-year-old singer-songwriter Rachana Dahal, the privilege of getting to choose her own career keeps her music going. As a musician who started playing live in the pubs and bars of Thamel from her teenage, Rachana met little resistance from her family and hence her path to becoming a professional musician was cleared.
“My mother was always supportive,” she says. “My father was a bit skeptical at first but eventually he too started supporting my choice.” Her father’s initial reluctance was more due to her young age than anything else. Coming home past midnight frequently is still a big no for Nepali teenagers, especially girls, but her job called for just that. “After a point, my parents were kind enough to even re s c h e d u l e my household chores and our family time to accommodate my late night shows,” she adds.
As she has an older brother who is also a musician, Rachana took to music early. But she discovered her potential much later. “I believe everyone’s a musician. They just need to discover their potential,” she says. “Likewise, I think I was born to do music. I would easily catch lyrics and melodies of songs from an early age.” Her earliest memory with music is singing the whole “Sweet Child of Mine” by the American rock band Guns N’ Roses to her parents when she was in Grade I. She also participated in music concerts in school and was among only a handful of female classmates to take up music instead of dancing. But singing was not her first choice. Dahal wanted to play guitar and at the age of 16 got enrolled into a l o c a l m u s i c institute. The teachers there discovered her singing skills and she got the opportunity to perform in her “first real concert.”
“I felt a sense of empowerment while singing in that show and I was showered with appreciation by everyone when I left the stage,” Rachana says. “It was then that I started thinking of myself as a singer and decided to up a career in music.”
Rachana then started singing covers with local bands. She performed in various venues in Kathmandu, honing her skills while also earning a decent bit to make her financially independent. But when the music started feeling like work and she saw low respect given to a cover artist, she decided it was time she worked on her original music.
With her guitar and vocal skills and the ability to pen lyrics and melodies, Rachana quit the cover music scene and started composing her own songs. She released her debut song/music video “Bhumari” in April 2019. The song about how a relationship can get toxic over time and how that toxicity takes a toll on mental health brought Rachana into the limelight and introduced her as a serious indie music artist.
“I write about my feelings and experiences,” the songstress says about her music. “I imagine myself in different situations and write songs accordingly.” While continuing music is her goal, Rachana does not expect much in return besides gratitude. Her uncompromising attitude to her music will not let it be dictated by financial pressures. “I’m also doing wedding management to help my financial situation,” she says. “I plan to take forward both these careers” O
Rachana will be performing at The Annapurna Express Music Festival 2 on February 8 at Tangalwood, Naxal