Built for successApurva Tamang thought the only way to become a professional musician was by becoming a Bollywood playback singer, but that was until his debut song, ‘Sano’, became a runaway hit.
On April 22, 2020, then 20-year-old Apurva Tamang, a relatively unknown musician, released his debut song, ‘Sano’, on YouTube. The song became an instant hit in Nepal and in regions in India where Nepali is widely spoken.
The song has since amassed more than 4.9 million views on YouTube alone, and Tamang now has a sizable 142,000 subscribers on his YouTube account.
What many don’t know is that the song that established Tamang as an artist on the rise was already made in 2018, but he never had the confidence to release it. After sitting on the song for two years, Tamang finally decided to release it.
“At the time of the release, the first phase of lockdown in India had just started, and everyone was confused with the sheer abruptness of how normal lives had come to a halt. It was during this strange period that I decided to release ‘Sano’ and see how it would go,” says Tamang. “I didn’t have lofty expectations from the song. The most I was expecting was for the video to reach 10,000 views.”
Since India was under lockdown and studios were all closed, Tamang couldn’t record ‘Sano’ in a proper studio.
“I uploaded the demo version of ‘Sano’ on YouTube,” says Tamang.
What happened later was something Tamang had not even imagined in his wildest dreams.
The unforeseen success of ‘Sano’ might have led to many labelling Tamang an overnight success, but he says that is the farthest thing from the truth.
Born in Mirik, Darjeeling, Tamang started learning music at the age of two from his maternal grandfather, Chandra Shekhar Dixit, a Bollywood singer and songwriter. When Dixit passed away in 2008, Tamang’s parents enrolled him in a music institute in Siliguri, a five-hour journey from Darjeeling. For the next ten years, Tamang travelled every weekend to Siliguri to study music. Starting music classes so early in his life meant that Tamang didn’t get to lead a normal childhood.
“Now that I think about it, I don’t have the kind of childhood memories and stories that most people have. I was just busy training and travelling to get to the training,” says Tamang.
When he first started taking music classes, Tamang remembers finding the whole process tiring and boring. It was only when he started to see noticeable differences in his voice that Tamang started realising how crucial the training was.
“Those training sessions helped lay the foundation of my musical journey and led me to where I am today,” says the 22-year-old Tamang.
When Tamang was 9, he took part in Zee TV’s ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Lil Champs’, marking his first-ever appearance on a singing reality TV show. He made it to the top 12.
As someone who enjoys singing and interacting with people, Tamang says he enjoyed taking part in reality shows. “I got a lot of love and appreciation while participating in reality TV shows,” he says.
The reality TV show experiences also made him realise music could be pursued as a career.
“I have participated in around 26 singing reality shows, but I could never make it big via that route. The rejections I have faced pushed me tirelessly to work harder towards my goal,” says Tamang.
After finishing his Bachelor’s degree in Indian classical music, Tamang, who was 19 at the time, travelled to Mumbai in the hopes of becoming a playback singer. It was during this phase in his life that he first started doubting if he could make a career in music.
“When you face so many rejections at just 19, it does affect you. But not once did I even think about quitting music,” says Tamang. His persistence was rewarded when he released ‘Sano’ that same year. The song catapulted Tamang to fame and recognition. Since then, Tamang has delivered several hit songs, making him one of the most promising Nepali-origin Indian musicians to break into the music scene in the last two years.
“Since the release of ‘Sano’, I have been so busy with live shows and concerts. Even though it is hectic, I am enjoying this phase in my life, which is all about meeting people who love my music,” says Tamang.
While the majority of Tamang’s songs are about love, his most recent song, ‘Kahi Katai’, explores mental health issues like depression and anxiety, thus showing his willingness to use the platform he has to talk about critical issues.
With several hit songs to his name, Tamang says he is now focused on continuing the momentum and further challenging himself musically.
“When you deliver a few hit songs, there’s a pressure to keep making similar music. But that’s something I don’t see myself doing. With every song I make, I want to be sincere with it and myself,” says Tamang. “I believe I have barely scratched the surface of my own potential, and I look forward to making music that I believe in, and I hope to get a lot of love from people.”