Bipin Nakarmi proves that DJing can be a lucrative career for those who have the drive!
They say, “When opportunity knocks, make sure your door isn’t locked.” But many still get cold feet when it comes to taking a risk. Bipin Nakarmi is one of those who took the road less traveled. At a time when EDM had not made inroads in Nepal, Nakarmi persisted and established his name as one of the most sought-after DJs in the country. Now he is living his dream and has also set an example for aspiring DJs. ECS Living talks to Nakarmi to delve into his roots and his life before fame took over.
Before all the parties and a successful career as a DJ, Bipin Nakarmi was a nerd, a science student, doing his Bachelors in Physics at St Xavier's College. “All I ever talked about was math or new discoveries in science and loved playing video games. I was a complete geek!” he exclaims.
Founder of Arbitrary Group and one of the most happening DJs in Kathmandu, Nakarmi has shared the stage with some of the biggest international artists like Diplo and Steve Aoki. He is also amongst the very few DJs in Nepal who has been booked to perform at international venues. But how did he achieve so much in such a short period of time?
It all began on a regular day in 2010 when Nakarmi attended Project Peace with his friends. There he encountered DJ Ankit who is now famously known as DJankytrixx. “I was really inspired by the way he made the crowd groove to his music. I wanted to be like him,” Nakarmi says. However, it wasn’t an easy journey; it took a whole lot of persistence. There were no professional schools for DJs in the country, so Nakarmi had no option but to somehow get hold of the one person who could teach him to use the console— DJankytrixx. “I literally stalked DJankytrixx; got his number through friends and called him every week to ask when he would teach me to DJ. He was planning to open a school but it wasn’t confirmed,” he reveals. He would later feel a little embarrassed when DJankytrixx recited the story of their initial meeting in front of others. Finally convincing the legendary DJ to train him, he began his internship. Nakarmi AKA DJ BPM started to play every weekend (as part of the training) at Jbar in Thamel. He gradually started getting commercial and private gigs on his own.
“The first thing that I learned about DJing was that you are playing for the crowd and you need to play music that makes them dance. But, you should also not forget to offer something unique; a melody, rhythm or lyrics that will make them curious,” he says. “My music is a reflection of my emotions. I play what I feel. I try and put out my thoughts and my sentiments through my music. The audience can actually get the vibes of my heart through my beats, chord progression or lyrics,” he adds.
Looking back on his first big break, Nakarmi remembers that it all started at a friend, Manavi Dhakal’s private birthday party at Hotel Radisson. “The birthday girl asked me to play for her, and I was noticed by the Heads of PartyNepal, one of the biggest event organizers at the time. They called me the next day to play for their Eighth Anniversary party at Imago Dei. For the first time, I played in front of a large crowd and received a great deal of appreciation and recognition,” he recalls.
Another important moment for him came when he got to play before legendary DJ Spartaque in India during one of his first international gigs. “I was really overwhelmed when I received a compliment about my set from the techno legend. I was literally on cloud nine,” he exclaims.
After his internship was over, Nakarmi joined one of the happening bars in town - Factory. While doing his private gigs on the side, Nakarmi was also coordinating events and artists at the bar. Then one day, he sat in with the owners during their conversation about opening another pub in Baber Mahal. He enthusiastically showcased his interest in being a part of it. “I was the in-house DJ for Zouk. It started very small and I was playing every weekend at the bar. But, eventually it started getting super crowded and we had to find a separate space for the DJ set. Also, it started taking off so well, I could not handle it alone and we needed one more DJ to join in,” he recalls.
In 2015, he was approached by the team of Victory Lounge to join them as the in-house DJ. “I made it clear to them that I would only be a part of it if I could really play a bigger role. Hence, I was given the opportunity to run the place for a year as the Managing Director. And I think I did a pretty good job,” he claims.
Although he was making good money at the time, he was not satisfied. He felt the artists in Nepal did not receive the appreciation that they deserve. “We had some of the best bands playing at Victory, but their music was not acknowledged. This was, in fact, proved true during one incident I remember. When Bipul Chettri arrived, the club was super-packed. It left me wondering why musicians who are equally good do not receive the same amount of response? And I came to realize that it’s because they do not have a proper management team; we don’t have a platform to groom and market the artist. An artist’s job is to perform not to negotiate their payment or look out for gigs. As Bipul Chettri’s team was very professional, everyone took him more seriously,” Nakarmi opines.
With the aim of uplifting the music scene in Nepal, Nakarmi along with his friend Elvis Ranjit started the Arbitrary Group. Although initially they faced many hurdles such as finding a production team and reliable medium, now it is one of the biggest talent management companies in Nepal. “We spent a lot of money and effort but still made many mistakes. Then we realized that if we go for digital marketing, we can implement different ideas in a more cost-effective way. We could not believe the last four months of success,” Nakarmi reveals.
These days, many of Nakarmi’s friends believe that he is heading towards the corporate world. But, the DJ disagrees and says, “Although I am not doing as many gigs as before, that does not mean I have lost my musical side. As they said in Dead Poets Society— ‘Medicine, business, law, engineering, they are all noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life, but poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are all the things we stay alive for’.”