From a metal singer to one of the most-loved sketch performersNatasha Shah, aka Nattu, talks about her musical journey, her love for comedy and TikTok.
Whether she is performing on a stage or in front of a camera, Natasha Shah, aka Nattu, makes sure to make her presence felt.
Rocking her short hair and a contagious smile on, Nattu has always exuded confidence, be it as a musician, a TV presenter or a comedian.
“I love entertaining and making people happy,” says Nattu talking to the Post, from Sydney, Australia, where she is now pursuing her degree in audio engineering.
In her many roles as a singer, songwriter, television presenter and sketch performer, Nattu has worn multiple hats and has always entertained her audience.
In this interview with Post’s Ankit Khadgi, Nattu talks about her musical journey, her love for comedy and TikTok videos, and the experiences of working in the Nepali media industry as a queer person. Excerpts.
What was your childhood like? Did you grow up in a musical family?
I grew up in the company of poets, musicians and music composers. My family members from my mother’s side were into music whereas members from my father’s side were poets and composers, who wrote songs for legends like Narayan Gopal.
And that’s why from my early childhood, I was into music. I believe I picked up a little bit of talent from both sides of my family.
How did your musical journey begin?
Even though it was only in 2013 when I released my first album ‘Nattu’, I was actively pursuing music way before that.
When I was 15, I was part of a heavy metal band and we used to perform in concerts and stages in the city. We were pretty good back then. We even participated in a contest called the Battle of the Bands. We made it into the final rounds but the organisers ran away with all the money and we were left with nothing. That experience killed my love for metal music.
After that experience, I started leaning more into acoustic and alternative rock and I started writing songs.
The first song I ever wrote was in English. In 2004, I composed and sang my second song ‘Ma Dherai Maya Garchu’ which became a huge hit.
‘Ma Dherai Maya Garchu’ was indeed a very big hit. Tell us the song’s back story?
I wrote the song for someone I had a crush on when I was 15. I wrote the song in English, as my Nepali was terrible back then, and had it translated in Nepali.
I recorded the song in my home using a headset and an old desktop software and shared it among a few high school friends.
Since the song was very simple and the lyrics were easy to understand and relate to, my friends immediately liked the song. They began sharing the song to other friends via their phones’ Bluetooth.
What started out as a song shared in a limited circle ended up reaching thousands of Nepalis living in Nepal and abroad.
I only got to know of the song’s popularity four years later when I was studying and living in London. I played the song to my cousin and she started singing along, which took me by surprise. I also learned that people were sharing and dedicating the song to their loves in MySpace, a hugely popular social networking site back then.
Since people didn’t know who the singer was, my cousin suggested that I make a video singing the song and give a face to the song.
I created a YouTube channel and uploaded a video of me singing the song and I unintentionally became Nepal’s first YouTuber. And when I returned from London to Nepal in 2011, I started getting more gigs and shows and I eventually ended up making a career in music. So far I have already released two albums—‘Nattu’ in 2013, and ‘Nakkali Nani’ in 2018.
Besides music, you have also dabbled in comedy. How did you get into it?
Laughter has always been a coping mechanism for me. I love making people happy and I have always been that person who tries to crack a joke, even in a tense situation.
I simply do comedy because I feel good when I make people laugh.
With more than 40,000 followers, you are also popular on TikTok. What has your experience been like on the platform?
I started making TikTok videos when I moved to Australia in 2019. It was curiosity that led me to TikTok. But the more I used it, the more rewarding I found the platform to be for an artist like me.
TikTok has everything built for you. You can add music, edit, and shoot, all on a single platform. And these features make it easier for an artist to create content and reach people.
The most rewarding aspect of the app has been the laughs and the happiness I have been able to spread.
I get messages from cancer survivors and those who are undergoing chemotherapy saying how my videos are making them happy. When I hear such things, it makes me glad.
You juggle between both comedy and music. What’s your creative process like?
As far as music goes, I mostly write songs that reflect my emotions. I prefer to write about something that I'm feeling at the moment.
Many of my friends often confide in me with their feelings and emotions. And if something that someone shares moves me immensely, I pen songs on it, with the concerned person’s permission of course.
When it comes to comedy, a lot of my material is my general observation of the society we live in and the people in it. Fortunately, I am blessed with great observation skills. I try to note down when I observe something interesting and use it in my sketches.
You are also one of the first artists from the queer community to work in the mainstream Nepali media? Do you think the media industry is queer-friendly?
I am privileged and fortunate to have extremely understanding family members. That has always given me the courage to be confident and open about my sexuality.
I usually don’t care what others think about me. But I believe if I were ‘girly’ or feminine, which society expects a woman to be, I think I wouldn’t have faced as much struggle as I had to.
Although no one has directly said anything nasty to me, there were many times when people from the industry didn’t know how to react towards me and my talent. I know many of them still believe that my social media accounts blew up not because of my talent but because of my sexuality.
To be honest, I don’t care how anyone from the industry perceives me. I do what I like, and I let them do whatever they want.
So what’s keeping you busy these days?
I am gearing up for my new song ‘Sayauchoti’. I have collaborated with Brijesh Shrestha for the song and I am really excited about it. ‘Sayauchoti’ is a folk indie song with eastern influence. I have also experimented with my vocals for the song and it will be released in June.