In an effort to engage, encourage, and empower women, 3E Entertainment partnered with local community groups to bring about a thrilling tour—Women in Concert-US tour 2017. The tour intended to engage and increase the participation of women of Nepali communities in the U.S.A. Abhaya Subba, lead vocalist of premier rock band Abhaya & the Steam Injuns, talked with Fr!day regarding the band’s experiences of the tour.
Flashback to your preparation for the tour?
3E Entertainment and Bhintuna International had been interested in Women in Concert for almost a year. We took our time to process the visas, etc., but ultimately we got it for the whole band. Aastha Raut and Malina Joshi were roped in by 3E Entertainment, and there it was—an awesome line-up that was coordinated by our agent Positive Vibes.
Though our audience was mostly Nepali, they expressed their keen interest in making Women in Concert a yearly event in the U.S., as we stated that this movement had begun in Nepal. It is a great opportunity for Nepal to make this a global movement for music, not only in terms of bringing about a balance between male and female artists in a generic sense, but also to highlight the plight of women of color being marginalized in the general scene.
What caused the most stress during touring?
The turnout of the audience was disappointing. Perhaps the disinterest was because women musicians are generally underestimated. But again, this is the challenge, and one of the most important misconceptions that Women in Concert aims to resolve. We appreciate Suresh Sapkota and 3E Entertainment deeply for their belief and support towards women musicians with opinions.
What do you consider to be the main challenge facing music at the international level?
For third-world country artists like us in the global context, we are expected to only highlight our 'ethnic' take on world music. They subtly tell us that going mainstream is only for the ones who are privileged or have the look, or are the right age, more so for women than men. To try to break this barrier is a Herculean task that only Wonder-Woman can undertake. The battle goes on—to be seen, heard, and taken seriously, and it’s a long, long, road before we see a Nepali woman musician slaying the international scene without the unseen rules laid out for 'us'.
In your opinion, what can be credited to the success of Abhaya & the Steam Injuns?
Abhaya & the Steam Injuns is a phenomenon only because we have stuck to our guns. We have had more lows than highs, yet we keep getting up to let the world know that we are serious about our music. We are serious musicians, and we are not sidetracked by either success or failure. The music is the hero for us.
We see you very involved with social causes, such as Women in Concert, for example; where does this inspiration come from?
I personally don't want talented female musicians wasting their time trying to find a platform, dealing with sexism, patronizing male mentors, or even face sexual harassment. WIC is their platform, their space, and their home, where they feel free to express their music without the shenanigans. Have to expand about this in another interview.
Where did all those expenses come from?
For this, we are deeply indebted to 3 E Entertainment's Suresh Sapkota. He managed our entire tour in the U.S.A. In Nepal, the Embassy of Switzerland has been supporting us for three consecutive years. In 2017, Water Aid supported WIC because of the platform we provide to raise issues regarding women.
Social networks have created new music phenomena. Do you think they will transcend, or only be momentary?
Music, or art, is that which lasts. Classic songs and compositions transcend the test of time. Time will be the test, not me.
How is this band’s agenda for the rest of this year?
We intend to come back to Nepal and plunge into recording a couple of songs and videos. Other than that, we will be planning for the annual Women in Concert event that happens on March 8 each year, also, the possibilities of taking this franchise all over the world.
What would you say to fans who are currently reading this?
Check out the number of serious female musicians on the scene. Are they there purely for their voice/ talent or sex appeal? How many Nepali female songwriters do you know, as opposed to their male counterparts?