Off the track: Homespun rocker


Mukti Shakya, the frontman of popular blues rock outfit Mukti & Revival, has been making music all his life. It is largely thanks to Shakya’s genial personality and terrific stage presence—not to mention solid music-making skills—that the band has stood firm for over a decade, that too at a time in the music industry when novelty is currency. Mukti & Revival have recently brought out their newest and fourth album—Sadhai Bhari—and Shakya has been occupied with promoting the same of late. The musician says he was blessed with an incredibly supportive family, especially his father, in terms of encouraging his passions, but despite his celebrity, is incredibly down to earth. Presently juggling his time between his family in Spain and work in Nepal, Shakya says one should “never forget one’s roots.” The Post’s Rajita Dhungana caught up with the musician to find out what, besides music, makes him tick. Excerpts:  

You’ve just come up with your fourth is it different from your previous works?

Sadhai Bhari is a lot more personal than any of our previous albums, and I’ve basically indulged in my own interests. The earlier records—Kalanki Ko Jam, Bujhaideu, and Dekhdai Chhu—were a lot more socially-inclined and incorporated attempts at political satire. But we’re tired of doing the same thing, and besides, nothing really changes around here. Our basic sound still relies on Nepali rhymes and rhythms, but our content is different this time.

You’re a prolific performer besides your studio albums... what do you do when you’re not making music?

It really depends; I don’t have fixed, routine things that I do. Right now, my wife and sons are in Nepal, so I’m spending most of my time with them, travelling, going trekking, things like that. But even in my free time, music plays a big role, so I’ll be listening to something or writing something. Apart from that, I enjoy gardening, playing with kids from the neighbourhood and getting together with friends.

Do you have any particular place you like hanging out with your friends?

I’m usually around Basantapur; there are a lot of good cafes there. The Grasshopper is my go-to hang-out spot; one of my band members owns the place so we feel very much at home there.

Tell us about your travels, and what places you’ve liked best.

To be honest, I like most places in Nepal, apart from Kathmandu. It’s so crowded and hectic and unmanaged, sometimes I just want to get away, something we’ve expressed in one of our new songs—Nagarkot Ko Danda. The minute you’re outside the city, you feel an instant relief. I recently trekked up the Panchase trail and it was beautiful. If you want to see real village life, I’d highly recommend this route. I’m also a fan of the Tokha and Kakani areas.

How about at home—are you good in the kitchen?

I’m not a very fussy eater, and my mother was always happy with me because I ate everything, which I do even now. It was only natural that my love of food translated to a love of cooking. I usually make daal-bhat—it’s the easiest—along with choela and gundruk, and have gotten good feedback from friends who’ve tried them. I also try my hand at making Spanish food sometimes.  

Are you equally enthusiastic about housework? Who dominates in that regard—you or your wife?

My wife, as you know, is Spanish, and Spanish women are very assertive; they’re not the kind to sit back and look after the house while the man works. So that means we both do our share of housework, which is, I think, the way it should be in every household.

Do books and films interest you?

I do watch a lot of films, and among the ones I watched most recently, I enjoyed The Book of Eli and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. And although it was a while back, I really liked Loot. It’s hard to narrow down, but I’d say comedies and musicals are my favourite kinds of movies. As far as books are concerned, I’m an adventure and crime-junkie. When we were at school, James Hadley Chase thrillers were very popular and I read a lot of them. But it’s actually been a while since I’ve sat down to read.  

Would you call yourself fashion or brand conscious?

No, not really. I prefer jeans and tshirts and comfortable things like sweatshirts over formal attire, and I’m not too picky about what shops I buy these at. I guess when you’re onstage, you have to care a little bit about what you’re wearing, but in everyday life, I really couldn’t care less.

What about gadgets? How obsessed are you with them?

See, I’m not entirely techno-illiterate, and I am pretty well acquainted with technologies related to my own field—like video-mixing, video clips, and recording. I also have a website of my own and am a regular facebook user. But I’m not one of those gadget freaks who have to have the latest thing. I just have a basic mobile phone with a camera and music player, and I’m happy with that. I think owning too many gadgets puts you on edge, forces you to worry all the time.

What would you have been if not a musician?

A businessman, no doubt about that. I actually studied business management, and even now, I often have to look after business related stuff that my father left behind. I’ve also worked in the fields of trade and tourism, but didn’t last too long. I guess the fact that I’ve stuck so long with music shows how passionate I am about it.

Final words of advice to the millions of youths who look up to Mukti Shakya as an inspiration?

The Nepali youth is looking for change, all the time, and the ongoing political instability has made them extremely pessimistic. Although it’s often tempting to give up on this country, I think the key is to have patience, to hang on to your ‘Nepaliness’, as it were. Especially if you’re looking to get into something like music, it’s difficult, but the hard work is worth it.

Posted on: 2013-01-15 08:25