A duo of brothers has made a name for themselves in the field of jingle making by delivering quality consistently. They’re not household names (yet), but chances are you’ve heard their voices.
There’s a slim chance that you’ve heard ‘of’ Suraj Thapaliya, but a much higher chance that you have actually heard Suraj Thapaliya. Roughly forty percent of all radio commercials that you hear have his voice over. Even if people don’t recognize him by name, his voice serves as his intro.
The same cannot be said for his older brother Suman Thapaliya. The latter does have a distinguished voice, but his versatility in singing gives him a spectrum of elocution. A composer by profession, a singer by heart and an equally competent voice over artist, “Jingle making isn’t the same thing as composing a song. A song comes from the heart of the singer. A jingle comes from the essence of a product. If I sing for a cement brand, I am as hard as a rock. If I sing for chocolate, I should be melting,” says Suman Thapaliya.
The Thapaliya duo inaugurated their jingle making studio back in 2008. Named ‘Glitters Studio’ by longtime friend Prabin Manandhar, the brothers have delivered almost 1500 radio jingles to reputed advertising agencies in Nepal. “A holy man suggested us to keep a name that begins with G. Our friends brainstormed and came up with the weirdest names ranging from Ganeshaya to Guns N Roses. Prabin called one night at three and zeroed in on a name that truly shines – Glitters,” says Sujan.The younger Thapaliya does not like to call his brother ‘brother’. “I don’t even feel like he’s older than me. He’s more of a friend, and now a business partner.
We have been in the same school, always had this crazy obsession for music, have had the same set of friends and both of us have managed to manipulate our voices so that it suits radio commercials.”Although younger, Suraj started in this field earlier than his ‘friend’. Harboring dreams to become an RJ, he chose jingle maker Ravi Shrestha and famed singer Sanjay Shrestha as his gurus. Working with Ravi Shrestha, Suraj mastered the art of recording. “My first voice over was for Choco Fun wafers. It was highly appreciated and was equally inspiring. Bishal Purush Dhakal pushed me into doing voice overs regularly. After that, I did so many numbers that numerically, I don’t think I will be able to recall how many spots I have done so far.”Suraj’s dream to become an RJ faded when his employers at HBC shut down their office. Suman joined him then after receiving blessings from his vocal teacher Prakash Gurung of Sadhana Kala Kendra. “Ravi Shrestha served as my mentor to bring me into this field. I consider Jems Pradhan as a mentor too. Both are accomplished jingle makers. If they hadn’t paved ways to work on radio commercials, we would be clueless,” says Suraj, recalling the early days.In their early days, the Thapaliya duo delivered mostly to Outreach Nepal, an advertising agency.
These days, agencies like Avani, Ad Media, Max L’agence, Thompson, and Trikon along with Outreach top their portfolio. Both brothers sing the same tune when asked about their source of inspiration; “Rahul Mukherjee, currently the creative director at Avani tops the list of people who inspired us. His compositions, ideas for product positioning and an equally good voice inspired us. Together, we have created some of the most admired and award-nominated jingles together,” say the brothers. “Like Suman mentioned earlier, jingle making isn’t the same as song composition. This is purely about products and brands. That’s why seniors like Mohammad Akhtar from Ad Media, Rajesh Roy from Trikon, Tashi Bhutia from Max L’agence, and our friends Pratik Adhikari, Angad Basnet Chhetri, and others have prodded us on at striving for better in this otherwise monotonous business of creating, recreating and recycling a hotchpotch of similar ideas,” adds Suraj.
Today, Glitters Studio delivers almost 25 radio jingles monthly, making them probably the top radio commercial deliverers in Nepal. “Initially, it was just hobby, but when we two put out heads together—we found a profession within it. Today, we do it because it earns our bread and butter. It all fits like a puzzle,” says Suraj, justifying this frequency. His brother Suman, the composer and programmer says, “This frequency however, comes with its own challenges. We have to keep upgrading ourselves to keep away from accusations of monotony. Also, since this is a creative field, compositions do not come easy. I have once taken a trip to Nagarkot just to break my composer’s block”.
Making a jingle with the Thapaliya brothers
Suman and Suraj Thapaliya first judge the genre of the jingle. Unlike songs, the genre of a jingle is evaluated by the type of lyric supplied by the advertising agency, the product the jingle is attempting to reflect, the mood and tone of voice required according to the script, the key message of the jingle and more importantly, the duration of the jingle.
The brothers follow the brief provided by the creative director from an agency, and compose the jingle on a guitar first. This serves as ‘physical’ programming, a basis on which the rest of the jingle and subsequent voice over is composed. The jingle’s music is thus created.
The music for a jingle is then coded with audio software. Suman has amassed a huge collection of music instruments’ sounds that he can just pick and tune into while his ‘physical’ composition serves as the baseline for other sound effects to be put into the jingle.
Suraj takes charge to set the studio right for recording. Generally, Suman takes the mic for the singing, and Suraj provides the voice over for the jingle. Every beat, every second counts. If a fraction of a second is out of place, it’s back to step one.
Speaking is easy—delivering a voice over is not. Enunciation, vocal pitch and variety play their unfair games while delivering a voice over. Suraj has mastered this art; Suman isn’t far behind either. To break the monotony, the brothers shuffle their voice over artists every so often.
Mixing and Mastering
Recording in place, everything is brought together to complement each other. Once the jingle has all its required layers, the audio is mastered to emphasize on the vocals with music serving as the backdrop.