Topi, comprised of Pramithus Khadka and Rohit Shakya, released their debut album Mitho Bihani on 1 January, 2014, but their singles had already hit digital platforms before. Through simple yet heartwarming lyrics and two creatively done videos from Fuzz Factory Productions (a multimedia firm opened by Rohit and his friends), Topi has managed to strike a chord with the listeners.
Mitho Bihani, says Pramithus Khadka, is about a person who has a big influence in your life. Mitho Bihani would be the one you come home to and who would take all your worries away. It could be a friend, a parent or a child. It could also be strangers who you see every day that inspire you.
The interesting thing about the band is that its members live in two different parts of the world and have never met to put the album together. They’ve met a few times in Nepal at gigs but not with the intention to work together. Everything was done over the internet and recorded in their respective home studios.
“We never met or even talked verbally during the entire production for the album. I don’t know why but it just felt comfortable like that. I don’t even remember what his voice is like when he talks. Maybe we were subconsciously cutting out the drama and just keeping it basic,” says Rohit, “It’s all about music after all.”
Pramithus and Rohit have been both involved in the music scene separately and long before Topi. Pramithus played guitar for death metal bands Bitter Euphemism and Shraap while Rohit Shakya is with the alternative rock band Jindabaad!! and is also an independent music producer. For Mitho Bihani, all the songs were written and composed by Pramithus and were arranged and produced, mixed and mastered by Rohit.
The following is an excerpt of an email conversation with Pramithus and Rohit.
How was Topi conceived?
Pramithus: I had asked Rohit for some help regarding the mixing of my band’s first EP. We started talking and sharing ideas on Facebook. After that, we worked together for our song Thorai and the collaboration grew to a full length album.
Rohit: When I heard the Topi EP a few years back, I was amazed by Pramithus’s simple but effective songwriting skills and composition. So I just had to ask him if I could be onboard.
What is the story behind the name of the band?
Pramithus: During my college days, we had annual music competitions among students. We formed a band, wrote and practiced songs for the competition. It was already a day before the competition and we still did not have a name for ourselves. Our drummer at that time (Bikash Shrestha) usually wore a green and white cap during practice. So we just agreed to call ourselves Topi. For the competition, each one of us wore different colored caps while playing our songs on stage. The name stuck with me ever since then.
Both of you are or have previously been associated with bands from a different genre than what Topi is about now. Why the transition and how has it been?
Pramithus: Even though I was playing guitar in death metal bands, I was still open to all genres of music. I had a lot of influences from pop too, which is our sound now. I have always played pop songs on an acoustic guitar by myself. One day, I just started writing my own songs.
Rohit: I wouldn’t call this a transition because Pop music like this has always been inside us. I think we just got a chance to label it as ‘Topi’.
The songwriting of Mitho Bihani is unique. How do you write these songs? Are they autobiographical?
Pramithus: They are pretty much the last few years of my life. I am quite shy so I guess the songs speak for me. I had to lose my grandma, went through somewhat of a quarter life crisis, re-discovered the meaning of family and friendship – they are all part of our songs.
The music videos for your songs are exceptionally creative and well made. How much of the popularity of your singles, would you say, is because of the videos?
Rohit: When I produce music, I have a visual definition of its emotions on my mind. I do believe that videos give extra depth to what I am producing. I think our music videos have helped us get discovered by new audience.
What next for Topi?
Both: For us, we will keep making more music and hopefully play live shows when the time and circumstances are right.