The indie band Phosphenes wants to go global

The band, buoyed by the success of their latest hit “Yestai Nai Hola,” is releasing an album soon and wants to chart new territories.

Prasun Sangroula

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: When Phosphenes dropped their music video of “Yestai Nai Hola” on January 15, they didn’t think the song would go viral. In their six years at the Nepali music scene, this is perhaps their most successful song, numerically. As of writing this piece, the song has over 350,000 views. It has even hit the trending list.

This has surprised all the band members. Earlier the band had a very limited number of listeners; with this new music video, they have earned many new listeners and fans. After this popular music video, many of the new listeners have even labeled Phosphenes as a new band in the music scene. But that’s not true, at least for the band, which was formed in 2016 and already has 18 songs so far.

“We are not new in the scene, it’s just that they discovered us late,” said Aman Karna, guitarist at Phosphenes. Similarly, those new listeners even compare the band with the other bands that are not a little bit close to them. “Do we sound like Radiohead?” 

For a band that follows the Indie genre which is still new for many Nepali audiences, it is hard to reach among large listeners.

The music video for “Yestai Nai Hola ” shows how the government officers procrastinate, indifferent to the work of service seekers. It is divided into three sections—past, present and future. It begins in the 70s when marijuana used to be traded freely in Kathmandu; then it shows the present time, and lastly, it ends in the future when the universe comes to an end. The music video appears to underscore the ephemerality of it all, and that with the span of time everything changes but, cheekily, the working mechanism of government offices does not. They keep creating hassles for service seekers.

“Music video of this song is very situational and relatable to Nepali people. That is also one of the reasons why this music video is getting popular,” said vocalist Abhishekh Pokharel.

Another notable thing in the video is the protagonist, played by Dipendra Shahi. He appears in classic attire, walks and dances in the street joyously, every time his work is unheeded by the government officials. One could not put eyes off his acting and expressions. Shahi, primarily a theater actor, came all the way from his native Kalikot, over 12 hours drive from the capital, just for this music video.

Pokharel and Prajwal Aryal, the drummer of the band, wrote this song and its music video is directed by Nibhal Bajracharya. 

The concept of music video developed when one day the band and Bajracharya were at one of the parties. Karna asked Bajracharya, “Dai, do you want to listen to a new song?” The moment he finished listening to the song, he told Karna, this song gave me a vibe of the 70s but somehow also of the present.

“Most often Nepali music videos lack storytelling and originality. But this one has both the elements and that are relevant as well,” said Aryal. The band members appreciated Bajracharya and his works while talking to Nepal Live Today.

They believe he can take the Nepali film industry to “the next level”.

Besides “Yestai Nai Hola”, the band’s other songs are also beautiful and worth listening to. But they aren’t as popular. For a band that follows the Indie genre which is still new for many Nepali audiences, it is hard to reach among large listeners.

“It is hard to promote a kind of music that is new to the audience. People are reluctant to listen to them as well,” said Karna. “Experimental stuff is hard to promote.”

“Many things in Nepal come late. These days, acoustic songs are getting very popular but in the western countries those songs were already popular a decade ago.” 

Phosphenes plans to come up with a new album very soon. Likewise, they also aspire to represent Nepal in the global music scene.

“Indie music has a very good charm in other countries and we want to spread our music over there,” said Pokharel.