Almost every guitarist from North-east India has plucked those ambient riffs and pieces from “Syndicate” or “Dadhelo” and emulated those distinctive enunciations, to experience what is called “Bipul da feels” and I am no exception.
Bipul Chettri is a singer/songwriter from Darjeeling, India and he is known for his one-of-a-kind music which intertwines the sounds from Himalayan folk of the east with the contemporary vibe of the west. He has nearly 31,000 monthly listeners in Spotify and most of his songs have crossed a million views on YouTube. His most popular song “Syndicate” has over 17M -plus views as of today, 23rd April 2020.
He was the “Top Selling Artist for 2014-15 and was in the Top 10 for 2015-16, on Oklisten.com, indie-retail music site in India. He is an LTCL (Licentiate of Trinity College, London) Diploma holder in Classical guitar and has performed in countries such as U.S.A, U.K., Australia, Japan, South Korea, India, Hong Kong, Dubai and Nepal. He has been awarded the ‘Pop-Rock Album of the Year’ for ‘Sketches of Darjeeling’, and ‘Best Pop-Rock Composition of the Year’ & ‘Best Male Pop Vocal Performance of the Year for his song “Syndicate” at the Hero Hits FM 91.2 Awards.
When he decided to answer some of the questions we had been dying to hear, I couldn’t hold myself together and pinched myself multiple times to check if I was awake. I was.
Then before even replying to the email, I had to call Sachin and Hemant to share the piece of the pie and they replied to me saying that it was good news and I was sitting there thinking, it’s better than good.
So, without further ado.
Red: What is the biggest challenge of being a musician and what is the best thing about it?
Bipul Chettri: If your questions pertain to our side of the world, the biggest problem is usually promotions and promoters. It has always been the bane for musicians as most of the focus is towards Bollywood music and very little on independent music.
Red: What is the motivation behind your work? The why behind it all.
Bipul Chettri: Motivation is different for each individual. For me. It has been the kind of music I intend to create and distribute it to the public thereafter.
Red: What is integral to the work of an artist?
Bipul Chettri: I guess it’s to initially trying to put one’s thoughts into the work and then trying to offer it to the world.
Red: How has your culture affected your art and vice versa?
Bipul Chettri: Culture and art go hand-in-hand for me. Without culture, I feel there would be no art per se. Art eventually has to influence society, therefore culture in that society plays a big part. Which also means bringing into focus a sense of interaction amongst various people. So, without culture, none of my work would have existed.
Red: How has your music changed in the past 5 years?
Bipul Chettri: For me, music at the core remains the same. It is up to the listeners to figure out the Changes.
Red: What was the story behind “Sketches of Darjeeling”? How did it begin?
Bipul Chettri: I had uploaded ‘Wildfire/Dadhelo’ on an online platform in 2013 on a whim after which there was such a huge response that it encouraged me to write more. It became the catalyst of what would eventually culminate into this piece of the album.
Red: What advice would you give to a musician who is struggling in Northeast India?
Bipul Chettri: Try to write and sing in your native mother tongue. I feel it is intrinsic, considering the number of languages and dialects that are prevalent in the North East which would help the world at large to realise the beauty and culture of the place. The rest of the struggles are the same everywhere else which every musician is aware of.
Red: What positive major investment of the past still impacts your present-day?
Bipul Chettri: Perseverance and practice.
Red: What are your plans for the future?
Bipul Chettri: As a musician, it will always be to create new work and help put it out into the world. We are currently in the studios recording some new music which should be out soon.
Red: What are the things in your “not to do” list?
Bipul Chettri: None. One learns with every mistake. So try everything that makes you happy, whether you make mistakes or not.
Red: What are some of your favourite failures and why?
Bipul Chettri: I have too many failures to note each one of them down. But my favourites are the songs I wrote which never made it to the studio. But the ‘success’ of the other songs is because of the failure of those tunes which never made it.
Red: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Bipul Chettri: Should have learnt to play more instruments.
Red: Any message to the youth of Northeast India?
Bipul Chettri: Keep listening to independent music. All I can say to our youth is not to let others put you down and judge you. Keep doing what you love and which keeps you happy and satisfied. The rest is irrelevant.
One thing of commonality I noticed from our conversation with Bipul Chettri and Taba Chake, two of the most prolific musicians from Northeast India, is that their biggest motivation happens to be themselves and their work. It seems to me that when the intrinsic motivation of your art is to give value out to the world, things start to align by themselves. And as often as we let people, society and the world dictate what is right for us and what we should do, the ultimate form of happiness is to do what fuels our soul and what keeps us satisfied.
One other thing of importance is that our culture undoubtedly shapes our art, and we should attempt to manifest it through our creativity in order to mould and give back to where we come from.
I hope that this article was of value to you and the work that you do. 🙂