Our friend Mannu of Nepali math rock band Jaire recently shared a beautifully poignant letter about her thoughts regarding being female playing music in Nepal. Her article is very personal and was inspired after watching a documentary about Nepali anarcho-punk band Rai Ko Ris. The documentary itself is streaming below…it’s a must-watch.
But please read Mannu’s thoughts:
“Rai Ko Ris is one of the best bands to exist in Nepal. A band with such creative and hilarious documentation of their decade long musical exploration.
This is to all the female artists out there who are told what they can/can’t do.
I for one have always been in such situations. I have always been told that girls can’t play guitar, that I can’t play guitar, even recently. I’m constantly asked whether or not I composed the music that I play. After shows when the music that I’ve performed is played on the speakers I’m always questioned, “Timile bajako?” (Did you play that?). I was cornered one day after a show, roughly 3 years back, I was just playing really simple stuff and this guy who’s apparently a band manager for people who studied in the same music university with me asked me if I had written the parts that I played in my guitar that day. In a recent interview that Jaire was asked to participate in (and we only went coz the interviewer was a friend – who later we found out was constantly harassed by the crew members as to what she should ask and how her expressions/words weren’t good enough), we were treated really really bad. And not just towards me, I’ve seen this happen to so many other aspiring female musicians, writers, or any female pursuing any other unconventional role. I remember one time when I was really young and hanging out with friends who play metal and one of them was this guy who plays in a female-led metal band. One night he was really drunk and told me girls can’t scream or growl…I was like “I should stop hanging out with this person”.
It was not until I met these incredible punk people did I realize this sense of fear I had that females can’t be musicians or even that females will never be as good as males on the guitar. I now look back and realize I was really stupid and it’s not girls who can’t jump into these male-dominant roles, it’s guys who are so insecure about girls taking over that they’ve managed to separate females from becoming a support system to one another. And it’s because of their own insecurity that has created this scarcity of females involved. And it’s not just guys that do this, there are actually women who support this mentality too.
I understand that what I’m writing here may feel like an attack on males all over the world, but it’s actually not. The video that I’m sharing along with this rant features 2 males and just 1 female in the band. [The editor of Unite Asia is also male (me) and I don’t feel attacked one bit! :-)] The males in this band were just as supportive of this rage and this movement more than an ordinary female is. I also play in a band with a guy so I’m not saying that guys are all villains here. It’s people with insecurities of their own who want to pounce on the aspirations of the young who are the villains.
I feel extremely lucky that I was able to learn from people like Sareena Rai [member of Rai Ko Ris], join this movement of punks and develop confidence enough to see the music industry of Nepal from afar and point out its flaws and ill practices rather than become an ass-kisser and just accept all the shit that goes on here. I learned that just because you’re famous or have been around forever doesn’t mean I need to respect you. If you play great music but have an ego, it just means you’re an asshole playing good music, thus, I’m never listening to your music again.
Lastly, I’m sharing this coz I think Rai Ko Ris and all their related bands were so so ahead of their time. They were making blasty music and consistently remained down-to-earth. If this type of band was led by a male singer/composer they would’ve been acknowledged as the best outfit to ever exist in the Nepali music industry. But because they had females they were never appreciated in our society. Unless they confine themselves to stereotypical roles of being an acoustic singer, with a really pitchy voice, a beautiful face, and a climate-destroying wardrobe.
So yea, fuck the Nepali music industry, the mainstream shits who now all of a sudden write songs about society or people’s pain, or even feminism, as they are more trendy topics in the contemporary world…and fuck the Nepali music audience even more…
To all the females (and even males) aspiring to break through this phoniness:
CREATE YOUR OWN STYLE, LISTEN TO YOURSELF NOT ANYONE ELSE, SUPPORT OTHER WOMEN AND ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS (coz if you don’t do this you too are also never gonna be considered), HELP EACH OTHER, DONT DROOL TOO MUCH ON YOUR EGO, MUSIC IS NOT A COMPETITION SO LET GO OF YOUR ATTITUDE and SUBSCRIBE TO RIS RECORDS and SUPPORT THESE GENUINE ARTISTS.”
Go support Mannu’s band here!