Women Who Inspire Women Series
Mannu Shahi | Guitarist
Jaire | Nepal
So I’m Mannu Shahi, I’ve been playing guitar for almost over a decade now in styles ranging from progressive punk, math rock, pop, rock to folk. I completed my post-graduation from Kathmandu University majoring in Ethnomusicology. I was initially encouraged to pursue music by my cousin brother who is a guitar player and my mother, who is a poet and short story writer herself. She is a strong independent woman who was my first ever role model, my dad, on the other hand, is also a writer/ journalist and coming from a family who was dealing with this fascinating realm of arts they understood my desire to pursue music and supported my journey unlike many other stories of female friends whose families hindered their musical careers just to please the society and terminate their insecurities.
Since my major at college was folk music, I have been involved with various small-scale folk-inspired groups, however, being in a punk band and part of the underground punk (DIY) culture has been one of the best experiences of my life, as the freedom I experienced during this phase while performing and writing songs about issues so dear to me liberated my inner rage in ways I can’t explain in mere words. Being raised by a strong woman like my mother inclined me towards feminist ideologies from my post-teen years, however, it wasn’t until I was a part of this cult of punk musicians celebrating dominant female roles in the society that my inner feminist nurtured further and I started being more vocal about these issues. I gradually started acknowledging that music as like many other professions of the world was a largely male-dominant field and women who have been contributing so much to the music field were not appreciated or supported genuinely while many even tried to hide their contributions and pretend that artists like such don’t even exist.
So currently, I’ve been busy with my primary project Jaire that is an instrumental math-rock/post-punk duo with my drummer friend Birat Basnet. Apart from this, I’m also working as the guitar player for experimental folk group Udumbara led by a fabulous female singer and music therapist Shreeti Pradhan and I also work occasionally with artists willing to hire me as their accompanying musician. I have been teaching music for the past five years in different academies and local schools of my region and have worked in 2-3 different plays as the musicians and composed music for 2 documentaries in the past.
So here is my list of Top 5 females who’ve inspired my journey so far and keep inspiring me to make music and not care so much about the opinions of insecure male protagonists.
Sareena Rai is the founder, guitar player, vocalist and leader of the punk supergroup Rai Ko Ris and her other projects were Tank Girl, Naya Faya, Yuva Ekta, The Kathmandu Killers and more. She is also the head and the primary source of encouragement of the punk movement thriving in the underground community of Kathmandu. It was after seeing her live for the first time at an underground show with Rai Ko Ris that I decided to form a punk group for myself. She was so raw, energetic, and passionate and her songs dealt with issues ranging from feminism, poverty to the crisis of our society, consumerism and so much more. This authentic soul never compromised her musical preferences for fame, money or power and is still actively continuing her journey so far from the mainstream pretentious musical side of Nepal.
[Editor’s Note: We also recently ran an article about this inspirational human being here.]
(Photo Credit: Ken Susi)
Sarah Longfield is a Youtuber and metal/ progressive guitar player from the United States. She is actually younger than me in age, however, her guitar playing skills are sick and her production skills are also really awesome. Her music inspires me to create more of my own, and her abilities to experiment with styles and timbres so apart from what is expected of her just makes me appreciate her as an artist further. She also has a signature Strandberg model of her own (pictured above), which is my personal favorite guitar company as well.
Pooja Gurung is a director, writer, actor and television show host, who I’ve been following since I was really young. She stood out to me as a host because she would appear quite different from stereotypical females seen on television at that time; however, it was when I discovered that she directed some of the mainstream hit songs that I was seriously blown away by her personality. She later went on to co-direct and produce experimental short films that were premiered in art film festivals that also won some international appreciations. I was privileged enough to work with her in a performance-art dance-drama, where actors were supposed to dance out feelings that were prescribed to them, and witnessed how even in this situation her dominant persona was a shade apart from all other participants and providing the background score for her performance filled me up with an energy level equivalent to performing heavy music.
This is her first short film:
Jerusha Rai is a singer, songwriter and guitar player from the Nepali music scene based in US. Though she is a pretty hyped musician in the modern scene, however, her music is quite unique, organic and personal that people coming from varied backgrounds could easily relate to her. She composes, arranges, produces and designs most her music’s cover art herself, her inspirations range from the bible to modern electronic timbres, her ancestral ethnic roots, to African rhythms and world music flavors. Her poem-like writings deal with dark to blissful imaginations and her guitar playing skills are also different in texture as she is a self-taught musician.
Tricot is a Japanese math/ punk rock quartet from Kyoto consisting of a male drummer and three extraordinarily skilled female musicians Ikumi “Ikkyu” Nakajima on vocals and guitars, Motoko “Motifour” Kida on guitars and Hiromi “Hirohiro” Sagane on bass. Discovering this band from Youtube was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life as they were pulling off a mixture of two of my most favorite musical styles Punk and Math Rock so well that it gave me a sort of direction into shaping this new project that me and my drummer friend are currently working on. Motifour’s guitar playing is so cool and original that she makes me believe that girls have a different approach into perceiving and approaching music than that of the guys. And if more females stepped outside of their comfort zone and dared to share their intimate practices the world would really see a totally different form of this vibrant art and culture that is lacking in the contemporary male dominant industry.
Check out the previous articles on inspiring women in the series Women Who Inspire Women below (Click on the images to get to the articles):
Inspired by Revolver Mag’s own version, we wanted to showcase the amazing talent of female musicians involved in Asian hardcore, punk and metal scenes throughout this beautiful continent of ours. Get to know your scene, your community, the people that are making punk/hardcore/metal open to all people.