How vocalist Phiroj inspired guitarist Phiroj set free the singer in him

Phiroj Singh had always dreamt of following in the footsteps of senior members of his family of musicians. That was why he took to playing the guitar, and kept on doing so until one day.

"You have a very good voice, you should take up singing,” said his namesake, from whom he was learning to play the guitar. Those words of encouragement from Phiroj Syangden, then lead vocalist of the band 1974 AD, were the spark he needed to fire up his interest in singing.

Soon he took up singing seriously and in 2003 released his debut album. “The song Bahana Nabanau and its music video were one of the audience’s favorites. I still remember the Rockmandu concert at Bhrikutimandap where I released my first album,” says Singh.

Singh’s transformation from being a guitarist to a singer was not the first, nor the last time that he would take up different roles in the industry. The guitarist-turned-singer was once a senior executive member of SAV (Samjhana Audio Video), a record label that produced countless albums of well-known musicians such as Nabin K. Bhattarai, Karna Daas, Sugam Pokhrel, The Shadows, Mukti & Revival and Robin & the New Revolution.
Although his roles changed, he never really let go of music – even when he put on the hat of a restaurateur as he opened Sasaa: D’ Newa Restaurant. The restaurant, which has a traditional Newari feel to it, has a decent stage, where artists perform to music enthusiasts. The walls of the mini-stage, decorated with framed photographs of singers and musicians, are testament to Singh’s never-dyeing love for music.

Singh has now decided to pick up from where he had left 12 years ago. He wants to get into the music industry one more time, more as an artist, and less as a businessman. His second album, which was released on 20 March at Sasa: De Newa Restaurant in Kirtipur marks his comeback.

During his album launch, there was an avid presence of famed local acts and individuals at the restaurant. Some of them had even collaborated with Singh on the album. “Aakhabhari was a song that both Swopnil (Sharma) and I had been planning to release for a long time,” says the singer referring to Sharma, the lead vocalist of the rock band The Shadows. Besides being singers, both of them have a common experience of running a restaurant that give utmost priority to music. Like Singh, Sharma is also a senior executive member of Purple Haze Rock Bar, Thamel.

“I guess the most obstructing factor was time itself. I was quite busy looking after my firms so I could only manage some time here and there to perform my songs.” Till date, the singer has toured major cities like Pokhara, Narayanghat and Dharan singing songs from the first album.

His plans with this new record look grander as he has already signed a deal with a major event management group for a tour later this year, which has been sponsored by Himalayan Distillery’s Royal Stag. Likewise, the release of a music video of the song Patra has already started making waves on YouTube as well as on the local TV channels. His collaborations with Wave music make the album even more accessible to the audience.
“I have also been receiving phone calls from several FM stations, tv channels and newspapers for interviews after the release of my second album,” says Singh.

The video of the song Patra features actress Priyanka Karki. “In the video, the protagonist’s lover sells her in a brothel by trickery,” explains Singh. The visual also puts a spotlight on Side B, his official backup band. In the video, Singh performs with the band with his mellow yet high-toned voice.

“The credits for the music video go to Prabin Shrestha and his team at Mokhshya Productions. They completed the overall process in just a matter of ten days, despite their busy schedule as they are working on their upcoming movie,” he says.

Along with photos from the premier of the music video, a song against human trafficking, multiple photographs of Phiroj’s album release program have been posted on Sasaa: Restaurant’s Facebook page. The images are of live performance of Singh and Side B during the launch along with the cheerful audience with of individuals like Anil Sthapit; Dipesh Singh; Sushil Karmacharya; Pradeep Joshi and Tri Chandra Singh, who had been a part of this new album project.

“The trends in the music market are quite different than what they used to be when I released my first album,” says Singh. He had seen and worked with many musicians in the past, and it was evident that the selling of an album’s cassette or CD was a significant contributor for musicians. “Along with the tastes of the audience, the ways of promoting one’s music have also changed a lot and become much easier with the usage of the Internet though,” he adds.

Despite his hectic schedule as a businessman, he is full of promises for his audience and says, “I will be dedicating more time in music this year as I am also rehearsing for some upcoming gigs.”