Tenzing Sherpa: Nepal’s pioneering DJ

Pratik Ghimire

Pratik Ghimire

Tenzing Sherpa: Nepal’s pioneering DJ

DJs started getting space on outdoor musical concerts and festivals after 2006, which made them more sought-after and increased their earnings too

When Tenzing Sherpa got the role of the ‘music player’ in Club Jolly Blues—the first discotheque in Kathmandu—back in 1992, he didn’t know the profession was called disk jockeying. He was an ordinary music-loving teen who used to go to the club every evening to listen to music and the club owner, with whom he had developed a friendship, offered him a job. He got himself the stage name DJ Tenzing and started playing with CDs and simple mixing devices as there were no professional instruments or training in Nepal in those days.

Born and raised in Solukhumbu, Sherpa came to Kathmandu for higher studies after completing his SLC. Until then, he had no fixed aim in life. He just wanted to make enough to pay his college fees and rent. “I used to leave the club at 2 am and attend my college at 5 am,” Sherpa shares about his initial days in the profession. “I then slept after returning from college at 9 am.”

Even long after starting out on this journey, he hadn’t dreamt of a professional career as a DJ: playing music was just a hobby and a small source of pocket money. But DJs started getting space on outdoor musical concerts and festivals after 2006, which made them more sought-after and increased their earnings too, and it was only then that Sherpa chose DJ as his permanent career. By then, the Internet and other technologies had also developed, which came in handy for him to practice new styles of playing.

After seven years at Club Jolly Blues, in 1999, Sherpa joined Club X-zone at Durbar Marg. He played there for around three years. He also worked at Hyatt Regency’s Rox Bar and Hotel Yak and Yeti’s Club Platinum. He started doing  freelance shows from 2008. Till date, he has done over 1,000 stage programs in and outside the country, including in the US, the UK, Korea, Japan, Israel, Germany, Belgium, France, Luxemburg, Portugal, Spain, Netherland, Hong Kong, Qatar, and India, among other countries . “There is nothing better than seeing people dance and love your remix,” he shares when asked about the best part of being a DJ.

Also read: Sugam Pokharel: The ideal Nepali pop culture Idol

In 2007, to promote his maiden album “DJ Tenzing”, he organized “DJ Tenzing All Nepal Tour” with several popular Nepali singers. The album includes various popular songs like ‘Isarale Bolaunu Pardaina’, ‘Jham Jham Istakot’, ‘Jhimkai Deu Pareli’, ‘Lalupate Fulyo Banaima’, ‘Yo Gaun Ko Thito Ma’, etc. Sherpa has also done a show at Everest Base Camp with the theme of “Stop Global Warming and Save the Himalayan”. Besides that, he was one of the judges in a DJ reality show “War of DJ” which aired for three seasons from 2010 to 2012.

“I have seen many ups and downs in the DJ fraternity during my three decades in the industry,” he says. For example, in the past, DJs didn’t have money, but they had prestige, but these days, things are exactly the opposite, Sherpa remarks. DJs are only regarded as ordinary guys with laptops and headphones, he notes. “I have groomed myself by mixing manually but youngsters nowadays just put software at auto-tune,” says Sherpa.

“I wish the government had plans to promote nightclubs as they also attract a decent number of tourists and thus contribute to the economy,” he says. Sherpa thinks that these clubs, which employ people from diverse backgrounds, have been devastated by the pandemic. But instead of helping them out in these difficult times, the government seems intent on stifling their growth, he laments.

There are many DJs in town today: half in the scene to cultivate their hobby while the other half is determined to make it a career. Sherpa sees the future of DJ aspirants as bright as the number of clubs in the country is steadily rising. “It is not that difficult to sustain financially, and if you can maintain good PR, you will get the shows and tours on a regular basis.”

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