The members of Psychic Tower have come together as Artha, an acoustic ensemble
Formed by Prasidhha Rokka (vocals), Manav Sharma (lead guitars) and Parash Sharma (bass), Psychic Tower was a band that performed covers of rap metal outfits such as Rage Against the Machine. Now, with Himal Shrestha (winner of Pepsi Voice of Nepal) on the cajón, a Peruvian box-shaped percussion instrument, the band has renamed itself Artha, and they play acoustic music.
When Psychic Tower started out in 2009, the band featured Kelvin Tuladhar on the drums and Bhufan Limbu on the bass. “When both of them left the band, Parash, who used to play guitar, shifted to the bass,” says Prasidhha. In 2014, the band members met Himal. Since then, things have been a lot different musically.
The common meeting point for all members of Artha was Planet Music Academy in Baneshwor. “There, I met Parash who used to work part time at the institute,” says Himal. For the percussionist, the band is like a family, as he has much more to share with them than just music.
But being in a band that regularly performs at restaurants across town comes with its demerits. How do they cope with individuals who constantly hassle the band to play covers, be it Bollywood or the newest pop tunes? I directed the question at Prasidhha, since he would be able to shed more light than the others, as it is always the member with the microphone who has to stutter the right words to keep the listeners ‘entertained’.
“It’s quite difficult,” he answers with a sigh, before reflecting on an event they played at some time ago. “A lot of celebrities were present there and they didn’t even bother to cheer or even clap after we played the songs they requested,” he says. A solemn situation such as this is not an anomaly when it comes to the local music scene.
Still, there are some who will stick to the band to the bitter end. “There are some dedicated fans who don’t mind what we play, unless we forget to perform our originals!’ says the vocalist.
Artha has been performing both originals and covers since their inception. Originals like Falling For You (featuring Suzzenna Shrestha of Kramasha) and Prashna have already amassed a considerable number of views on YouTube. The former is a love song while Prashna is a thoughtful number that even goes on to question god in the end. The latter was also included in Rock Fever’s Rage of Echo compilation that came out almost four years ago.
When asked about their compositions, the band members have a straightforward answer - they simply follow their intuitions. “I normally use pentatonic scales but also include melodic ones when it comes to composing soft and soothing music, such as the time I had to work with violins in Falling For You,” says Manav. Prasidhha usually writes the lyrics whereas the rest of the band members come up with the music, depending upon the songs. “In Psychic Tower, we were more into funk rock, but we are focused on acoustic music now,’ says Manav. Still, the guitarist does make use of effects such as delay and reverb to add a bit of a bite to their sound.
Involved in different professions, the band members of Artha usually meet up after work. When asked about what binds them together, Prasidhha simply answers, “Music, of course!” Besides their daytime jobs, music too has become a part of their profession as they regularly play at restaurants and pubs around Kathmandu Valley. A typical session lasts around four hours in which they play 20 to 30 songs. “At times, we have to be selective according to the preferences as well as the nationalities of the audience,” says Prasidhha. In this regard, they end up playing Nepali, Hindi, and English songs.
Artha credits the Internet for being a valuable medium for promoting their music, with CDs and cassettes becoming almost dead formats. Amidst this change, Manav believes that musicians need to work harder, especially those from outside the capital city. For now, the band is hoping that their upcoming album, Changaa, will receive the attention it deserves.