By Priyadarshani Shrestha
Photos by Fuzzscape
Fuzzscape is a collaborative effort of musicians, artists and filmmakers who are on a journey to explore different places in Nepal and tap into their creativity to document the culture, art and music to make their own music through their inspirations of those places. Capturing the essence of the surroundings, the culture and the people through interactions with local journalists, students, artists and community people and exploration of the different locations of the places, the artists create a montage of all the inspirations they derive. Produced by Fuzz Factory Productions, Fuzzscape has come up with many instalments since its inception in 2016.
Their first destination for ‘Episode 1’ was Banepa where their musical journey was mainly dictated by the nature and woods of the historical town. Next, they explored Shermathang, ‘a land above clouds’ where the artists focused on the resilient hearts of the quake-affected people living in the mountainous region. The third was the industrial city, Birgunj, which gave the artists inspiration to address the migration issue among the youth of the country. With the chautari circle bringing people together, Bhojpur was their next destination where they even presented a concert at a chautari in the Bhojpur bazaar. Most recently, they travelled to the city of colour, Janakpur, where they got inspired by the amalgam of art, culture, and daily life.
“The team has also been facilitating workshops—on intangible heritage, issues surrounding it and its conservation through multi-media—for youth of the areas visited.”
From the rich greenery of Banepa to the hustle-bustle of Janakpur, Fuzzscape begins with a poetic narrative about the place, along with a short introduction to the featured artists of the episode. After a quick tour of the place and exploration for musical and cultural inspiration with locals, the artists set up their makeshift studio in their hotels with all the equipment and instruments they carried in from the capital.
Music is one of the main parts of Fuzzscape as the final outcome of their voyage is to come up with an original song. For the music, they usually take samples of the sounds echoing in the surroundings, trying to capture the true essence of the location. For an instance, the crunching and rustling sound of leaves and singing of a bird later became key musical elements of their song ‘Kapase Badal’.
While nature of Banepa was the stimulant for their first episode, the folk songs with the traditional age-old rhythm popular in the dance form known and popular among the people of Shermathang grabbed the attention of the artists for their second episode. Using a local favourite ‘Yala Yala Soma Chemula’ as inspiration, they used the colloquial language, Hyolmo, which is also the title of their song for this episode. They even used the traditional instrument, Tungna, locally known as the Damyang, after meeting and speaking to a local tungna maker. This finally gave the artists the final piece to the puzzle that was Shermathang with the melody of the tungna taking the lead.
Travelling south, Fuzzscape decided to take their musical pilgrimage to Jhijhiya, Birgunj. Sampling with the metallic soundscape of cycles, click-clack of horses, the bell of the rickshaws and different metallic wastes collecting rust in the industrial city of Birgunj, the artists were inspired to address the issue of migration after hearing the locals talk about their young ones migrating for income. The folk song ‘Jhijhya’ was taken as inspiration using the witch in the song as a metaphor for the problem of migration.
“Music is one of the main parts of Fuzzscape as their final outcome of their voyage is to come up with an original song. For the music, they usually take samples of the sounds echoing in the surroundings, trying to capture the true essence of the location.”
Next was Bhojpur, where the artists had travelled to Mangding, a Gandharva village nestled on the red-mudded hillocks of Jarayotar, Bhojpur. The centre of attraction was the chautari, where all ages and creeds of people come together. The artists joined forces with Barta Gandarba, a local sarangi player and singer who sings from door-to-door and in bazaars in order to earn money and who is also one of the contestants in The Voice of Nepal. With the concept of the chautari, the artists collaborated in composing a song, and they based their song on the melodic scale and articulation from eastern folk melody called ‘Simal Barulai’. At the end, with a concert at a chautari in Palpale Bazaar, Fuzzscape not only came up with a song and live performance but also drew the people of Bhojpur in appreciating and preserving their tradition and culture.
Finally, the latest instalment of Fuzzscape traversed to Janakpur where they not only found traditional musical inspiration but also traditional and contemporary artistic inspiration with discussions with the women of Janakpur Women’s Development Centre. They found that the folk songs were intertwined with the mithila art work as they acted as the story or theme for the art pieces and collaborated with Shivani Bhagat, a young local singer who was also a contestant in Nepal Idol Season 1. The song main source of inspiration was the people and artists of Mithila and their free and unadulterated expression.
The work that goes into the episodes of Fuzzscape does not begin and end with only the artists who travel from Kathmandu. Right from planning, the musical yatra documents every person, animal, sound and art they meet and record the sounds and footage to create a song and its video. And this, the collaborative endeavour of artists, musicians and filmmakers are spreading waves of inspiration far and wide.
- Banepa: Rohit Shakya, Ashesh Rai, and Rajan Shrestha
- Shermathang: Rohit Shakya and Rajan Shrestha
- Birgunj: Rajan Shrestha
- Bhojpur: Rohit Shakya, Rajan Shrestha, accompanied by Barta Gandarba
- Janakpur: Rohit Shakya, Rajan Shrestha, Ranzen Jha, accompanied by Shivani Bhagat