Apart from captivating us over the years with her acting and modeling prowess, most recently with a seductively sinister starring role in Neetesh Jung Kunwar’s video for 'Naked', Srijana Regmi has defied expectations once again with her jaw dropping entrance into the music industry as a singer/ songwriter. Born in the eastern Himalayan region of Sankhuwasabha and brought up in the capital, this versatile star has proven she is truly a force to be reckoned with. Having spent the last three years quietly working alongside legendary Nephop producer DJ AJ on her debut album ‘Dreams under a Rhododendron Tree’, her silent hustle is beginning to pay off, with two hot new singles out and plenty more on the way.
How did you get interested in music?
I have not taken any professional course for music. I remember singing with my dad when I was a kid. Chess and music are something that binds us together. I remember being with my dad in a restaurant and singing this song, ‘Phoolai Phoola Matra Pani Hoina Raichha Jivan’ and that moment is stuck in my head for some reason. I never thought of making music as a professional career, although I have been writing songs since I was a kid.
How do you manage your time for both your acting and singing careers?
It is definitely difficult to manage time. Because I am also acting and spend so much time as an actor working on various projects, that it sometimes delays my own projects. But I am not in a hurry to be recognized for this. My music is not very commercial and is a self-expression and reflection of my personal journeys. However, I do wish to dedicate more time towards my music.
What type of genre do you stick to for your songs?
I think my music is mostly inspired from the lives of people and is like multiple slices from their stories. Let’s say, Murder Mountain was written after I watched a documentary series of the same name which is mostly about young girls who go missing in this area of california known for illegal marijuana growing . I was so moved with the series that I was so emotional and just couldn’t resist writing a song. Floods in Spring is a very personal song. But, with my music I think in melodies and its always fun. All of my songs are deeply personal to me even if I am writing from different perspectives. There are things hidden in the lyrics that only I or people close to me will understand. I have a lot of fun with it.
How long does it take for you to complete a song?
It depends. There have been times when I have finished a song in 15 minutes while some have also taken me two years. I finished writing Murder Mountain in 20 minutes but of course the production part took a bit longer. My title track which is called Rhododendron Red took me two years to make because I was just not satisfied with the way it was going. It’s now in production. Also, I’m not making this for anyone else but for myself so I don’t mind taking time to finish the projects.
What kind of music do you usually listen to?
I listen to all genres. I listen to Nepali folk music, industrial metal, noisy offbeat, etc. I am a fusion of everything that I know. I have songs from Gone Gospel to Dream Pop in my album. I’ve donated my body and soul to art.
Who’s your inspiration from the musical fraternity?
There are a lot of singers I really look up to. I really like Leonard Cohen and his writing. From Nepal, Jerusha Rai is my favorite. Her authenticity is something that really inspires me. Bipul Chhetri is also my number one.
How did the idea for the album ‘Dreams under a Rhododendron Tree’, come about?
I went for a 10-day silent mediation retreat back in 2019. There was a rhododendron tree in the middle of the Vipassana Retreat where all the participants used to lay down and rest around. That’s when the melody for the title track came to me and I decided to release it on a public platform. I have always been writings songs but never actually thought of releasing them until I attended the retreat. It was a revelation for me and I eventually managed to decide upon the whole concept. I consider this like my baby, my dream project.
You were recently seen in the music video by Neetesh Jung Kunwar. How did you guys collaborate for the project?
I love acting and portraying different characters. Neetesh had visualized me for his song from the very beginning. I like the energy of music and love being around the aura of musicians. That’s the reason, when he approached me for the collaboration and narrated the concept, I was very thrilled and it was very much a fun project.
What is the latest song you’ve heard and listening to that on loop?
I really like this song The Garden by Einstürzende Neubauten, the industrial metal band based in Denmark. Most people might not like it but it has been my favorite.
Your dream collaboration?
There are many but my wish would be to collaborate with Jerusha Rai. I feel that there should be some personal connection before we begin with making music together and I’ve always kept her in such high regards. There’s an Irish musician Hozier and it’s like a dream to work with him.
What do you think of the short-format content platforms like TikTok for the music industry?
I feel like TikTok is a magical platform for musicians. The platform can actually contribute a lot for a song to get viral.
Which song are you working on right now?
Right now, I am working on my third song from the album which is called ‘Mindless Missionaries’.
An advice to the new musicians.
I am one of them (laughs). But I will say to them: make music for the soul.