She’s just a girl, and she’s on fireRachana Dahal debuted her solo track only last year, and in just a short while she has been recognised as a talented artist, with much depth and versatility.
But Dahal’s journey began only last year, when she released her first single Bhumari.
“I did sing in school and in a band before I released the single. But that was just for fun,” says Dahal. “For me, my real journey started last year. Since then, music and singing has been a part of my expression.”
It wasn’t always like this for Dahal, she says. Growing up, Dahal says she was very shy. Introverted by nature, Dahal says she never shared anything with people. But she was always fond of writing.
“I found solace in writing. I always kept things to myself and felt I was thin-skinned. Even though I didn’t share things I was going through at home or with friends, I always wrote them down as songs. I think I was in my early teens that I started to write songs,” says Dahal.
Growing up Dahal knew that she could sing, but she wanted to do more. Which is why after her SLC, she joined the Music and Musical Institute to learn how to play the guitar. It was there where she started to learn more about herself musically, she says.
“I didn’t really enjoy the guitar classes. One day I was casually singing and the teachers at the institute took notice. They asked me to sing at one of their shows and that's how I started,” she says.
Dahal sang two songs—Sweet Child O Mine by Guns and Roses and This Girl is on Fire by Alica Keys—which got a lot of applause by the audience. She says that it was an overwhelming experience for her which then gave her the confidence to go on to do many other shows.
“Before that show I was doing music for fun. But after that show, I felt empowered in so many ways. That day I realised that I could really sing and decided that I would continue to sing for the foreseeable future.”
After that, Dahal started to sing in different venues around the Capital. Along with her band Aroha, she sang cover songs for nearly four years. But after realising that cover artists weren’t as appreciated, she decided to focus on originals.
“I never thought I could write good songs,” she says. “But when I showed some of my lyrics to my band members and friends, they were very encouraging. They always encouraged me to write more and that has been a great help for me so far.”
She adds that she started writing from a very early age. However, most of her compositions in the past were full of clichés. But, she says that her writing has improved significantly.
“What I write is something that I feel deeply about or have experienced myself. As I was mostly reserved, I penned down everything I couldn’t tell people or the society. I poured my emotion into a paper. I still do that.”
In the past year, Dahal has released three single tracks, all of which are different to one another—showing her range as an artist, both creatively as well as vocally.
If you listen to the songs that she has released in the past year, you can notice that her song 'Bhumari' talks about how a relationship becomes toxic and affects someone’s mental health. 'Sooch' talks about sexual abuse and how society turns a blind eye to it.
“It’s what I feel that’s all,” she says. “We as a society haven’t been able to raise issues like these. I just want to give light to these issues.”
Her latest song 'Sapanako Raja' also dwells on a similar narrative. In the song she sings how we should grow out of the idea of the need for a Prince Charming and focus on bettering oneself and focusing on self-love.
All three songs are part of her album 'Daag Batti' which is still a work in progress she says.
“I don’t like rushing things. I want to produce quality content. And that doesn’t come overnight. Even though I have already written and composed songs, I want to wait before I can record it,” she says.
One reason she says she wants to take things slow is financial constraints. Even though she had been getting regular shows, she says ther return on investment when it comes to music is little and that is discouraging.
“I think luck plays a very big role in a musician’s career. I’ve been fortunate but not as much as others. I want to keep doing this in the long run and keep producing content but it’s not as easy which is why I have a lot of respect for all the Nepali artists.”
She’s also very appreciative of the Nepali music community which she believes really helps each other out.
“Even if it’s just sharing a song or giving feedback, people in the industry are very helpful. It's encouraging you know, especially for a young artist like me.”
Even though she had planned to release the album by the end of the year, due to Covid-19, those plans might have taken a step backwards. She had huge expectations from 2020, but like everyone else, she too has come to terms with reality.
“For now my focus is to make music. There is no rush. I just want to go with the flow," she says.