If you’ve ever seen a six-foot-tall figure hovering above other musicians with untamed energy on the stage in concerts, you don’t need to guess who he is. It has been more than two decades of rocking out in the Nepali music industry for singer/songwriter and actor Robin Tamang who is all set to release his new album “Muglan” on July 24 with his band Robin and the New Revolution. Tamang, born in Singapore, has come a long way from his starting days in Nepali music with the band Looza. He now shapes the rock scene of Nepal with his instantaneous lyrics-writing, captivating stage performance and the ability to gather some of the best musicians around to back him up. He now holds a position of no less than a legend in the Nepali music scene and watching him perform live is the dream of every Nepali concert-goer, be it in Nepal or abroad.
All this he maintains without the loss of any humbleness and getting to know Robin dai is getting a chance to discover new perspectives in music and life in general for every young musician. An eloquent conversationalist, Tamang talks to Sunny Mahat of APEX about his upcoming album and shares his thoughts on Nepal’s contemporary music industry.
Please tell us more about your upcoming album.
“Muglan” is an album Robin and the New Revolution is releasing after a hiatus of almost seven years. The reason I wrote “Muglan” is to bring the plight of our migrant workers to the forefront. Of the 28 million people in our country, 10 percent are migrant workers and they generate 30 percent of our annual revenue. Only last year, about 800 people died while working abroad. A year before that, it was 700. When you add that up with deaths from previous years, you’ll see that the number is huge.
It is not an easy life for migrant workers. We have seen and met them on our tours to various countries. There is no regulation, no protection. So this album, we dedicate to these workers. Through it we want to bring their problems to the mainstream.
We see that there has been another line-up change in the band. How does this affect your overall sound? How has the sound evolved?
Our band has changed in terms of the members and also how we sound. We are getting more technical and heavier. In the present line-up, we have Bijay Baral who is a very young and talented drummer. We have also included guitar maestro Hari Maharjan, who is a technically proficient player and adds much value to the band. We then have Prabin Das Shrestha, an original member of RNR from 2006, who returns on bass duties.
This is our fourth album and it is mostly about what has been happening around us in the past seven years when we didn’t make new music. The album has eight tracks—four English and four Nepali. We’re also redoing “Jawaf” and “Swatantra Jivan” from the Looza days because I think these songs did not get enough exposure back then.
An actor, a musician and a family man. How do you juggle between your demanding professions and your family which is living abroad?
You see, I am now in a position where I can call the shots (laughs). With me it is easy; whoever books me first gets first priority. People are considerate enough to adjust their timetable for me. They will shift the dates for concerts so I can play. They will shift the dates of shoots so I can act. I am booked till October and it started from January this year.
That’s a tough one (When reminded about the family). Every time I get off between my busy schedules, I go to France to my girls. In fact, I am leaving next month for 10 days to be with them. The younger one, Jade, is 10 and the older, Tara, is 19 and going to university.
Does the trending music and genres of today affect established bands like RNR?
We were the pioneers of rock music in Nepal. We were the inspiration and people still look up to us. Luckily, I am still here after 22 years in the music business. I think the audience pretty much know when they hear good music and when they see a good performance. They always look forward to that. We have a reputation as a live band. Our stage performance is so interactive. I don’t think our crowd will ever let us go.
But still, with the influx of so many different genres in Nepal, would you call rock music a dying genre?
I don’t think so. I think we just need a boost. If we see lately, a lot of rock bands have come out with new stuff this year. I think 2019 is going to be a good year for rock music. Having said that, there are now so many genres of music compared to the time we started. The level of music is 100 times better now. Not only that, the musicianship has improved. I like to think artists like 1974 AD, Nepathya, Mukti dai and ourselves have a hand in it.
We have crossed generations of listeners. I am on my third generation now. We are also getting new audience. I don’t think the element of rock will ever die in Nepal. This year has been rare with so many rock musicians releasing their music. It was dormant for a while. Once in a while we need that interjection of rock music into the system to let people know we’re still alive, we’re still kicking.