Between preparations for the Christmas eve performance and New Years’ events, it’s hard to pin Swoopna Suman down for a chat these days. But when we did finally get hold of him, turns out he had even more up his sleeve. If you are a fan of the up and comer, brace yourself, there is a new release headed your way. He has reportedly been busy wrapping up a new music video.
“There is going to be a special screening at Karma Lounge on December 24 and we are going to release it on YouTube on December 25,” informs Suman before swiftly adding, “You should come.”
He appears to be affable like that.
Here, with The Week’s Priyanka Gurung, the YouTube sensation talks about his new found success and reveals his current playlist.
So many people upload videos of their singles on YouTube but you are one of the few who has successfully built a career on it. What do you think you have done differently?
I don’t consider myself a success yet. But I believe whatever little recognition I have managed to achieve has been because of the work I have put in.
I have worked hard and, most importantly, I have been consistent with my work. Having patience has helped as well. I began uploading around 2013-2014 and, between then and now, I have made many necessary sacrifices as well. I spend most of my time and energy in the studio. I didn’t go out a lot like others my age. I don’t even have that many friends. All my focus is always on music.
As a youngster trying to make it in our music industry, what do you think about the local scene?
These days there are many platforms and opportunities to get your music out there. In this regard, it isn’t like the old days. With social media and all, if you put in the effort, I think you can get the necessary exposure.
But the system of record labels and agencies representing you is still relatively new. You can see that the culture hasn’t been established yet. There are labels that have bad intent. Be it with royalties or copyright issues, as a newbie, some companies can try and take advantage. But thankfully, there are also agencies that are genuinely trying to help their artists. You have to be able to make the right decisions.
In my case, I was approached by my current label after a pub performance. I looked at the contract, liked the terms, and decided to join. At the moment, I’m a full time musician and I’m still able to sustain myself. I think it is a sign of our industry growing. The progress may be slow but it is definitely there.
How did you go about convincing your parents to pursue a career in music like this?
I was asked to study science after my +2 as well. I think parents have objections the moment you decide to do something other than the norm. It’s not just music. But they object only because they want the best for you. I think as long as you can show them your dedication to your craft and continue in that manner, at the end of the day, they will be okay with the decision. After all, they also want you to be happy.
And how are you handling the popularity and fame?
When I started, I never expected to have a fan following or make money as such. So now when people recognize me or ask for a photo with me, I see it as a sign of respect. I’m really thankful and I enjoy it.
But there are some awkward moments. Once some fans spotted me while I was on my way to buy some groceries at night. I was wearing my home clothes and holding eggs but we had an impromptu photo shoot with flashes and everything in the middle of the road. I’m not complaining but it felt weird.
What about your songs, what inspires you these days?
I enjoy portraying reality in my songs. But, every now and then, I also like indulging in some storytelling. I’m inspired by experiences and events. Some of them can be real and some are imaginary but I build my melodies around them.
Why love songs though, why not broach other subjects?
Love is such a bright force in this world. It helps fuel people’s drive. So many of them are able to go through each day because they know they are loved. Even small gestures of love have such big impacts. I just think people love being in love and talk about love.
Have you become used to live performances yet?
I really enjoy performing live. Seeing a crowd gather for the show and getting to play as well as listen to my own songs in that kind of environment is amazing.
But I still feel the nerves, the fear. It’s especially intimidating when you have people passing negative comments. Sometimes you can hear it on stage and that can be nerve-wrecking. But all in all, I have got so many opportunities to travel in Nepal and more recently abroad as well for concerts and shows so I’m enjoying getting used to them.
And lastly, what’s with the hair? Was it always a part of your plan?
It was Ranbir Kapoor’s movie Rockstar that gave me the idea to grow my hair. But I remember I only began growing it in earnest after I had a bit of a fall out with my previous label. I decided not to cut my hair till I got somewhere with my music.
I do confess it’s difficult having long hair. You have to keep combing it and there are things like conditioners involved. I know I will cut it eventually, but for the time being, this is it.
On Suman's Playlist
On shuffle, Ed Sheeran
I’m a massive fan of Sheeran. I actually only found him around the time I began working on my music. Needless to say, ever since then, I have been following him. His latest album is on shuffle at the moment.
On concert bucket list, (Apart from Ed Sheeran) Coldplay
Their tunes are like anthems. They are made for the stadiums. Everything about Coldplay’s releases, from the audio to the video tends to be grand and iconic. Experiencing them live would be very special indeed.
The underrated artist, Passenger
For me, a good romantic song is one written honestly. When a songwriter is able to convey that through his song, I think that is the best. Passenger is good at this. I feel like his words are genuine. My favorite is and I love her. It deserves to be a hit.
The wake up tune, The Okee Dokee Brothers
To be specific, it’s the song Can you Canoe? I have realized that I want to be making this kind of music. So when I don’t wake up late, and can afford to listen to a tune, this is the go to song.
The groove, Clean Bandit
I can’t listen to music that is too loud but if we have to talk about dance music, I really like Clean Bandit’s Rockabye at the moment. I prefer my EDM when they are fusions. Clean Bandit’s classical crossover with electro pop and dance pop is just infectious.