Subani Moktan is seen as one of the finest singers in the Nepali music industry. She has also previously worked as a Radio and Video Jockey. Subani has studied Eastern Classical Music and was born and raised in a family rich in music. In this edition of WOW, Subani shares snippets of her musical journey with WOW’s Anushka Shrestha.
How do you describe the arena of classical music in Nepal?
As a graduate of eastern classical music, I feel that many upcoming singers and musicians look at classical music as a foundation to build their careers. And that’s how I see it as well. No matter what genres we branch out into, classical music is always the base. There are many students as such, and I feel that they benefit a lot by taking music lessons.
When did you start your career?
I started my career early as a child artiste. I did a lot of jingles and radio spots. I also got the opportunity to sing the child parts in a few movies. It came about since I was born into a musical family and people just assumed that I could sing, and in some ways, they were right.
How do you bond with your sister Shital Moktan personally and professionally?
I worked together with Shital for many years. She’s my sister and also a great friend. So it was awesome having her since we could go anywhere and we’d just sit next to each other and talk endlessly. You know what it’s like when you have a sister, you don’t really need anyone else. I still have a great relationship with her and although we aren’t doing much professionally, we are planning to do something in the near future.
How does it feel to follow in your parent’s footsteps?
It feels awesome. I never looked at it like, “Oh wow. I am continuing the legacy.” I always saw it as a passion-fueled career. But now I see that it is so much more. People were expecting me and Shital to carry on the legacy and I intend on doing just that. The support over the years has been incredible and I hope it continues.
What was your childhood like?
In short: musical. I was always into music, music and music. I played every instrument on the Galaxy Orchestra, did a lot of singing, participated in competitions, and won. So it was studies and music.
How do you enjoy your personal time?
I am a private person and love my own company. I play a lot of piano in my free time and you know how time-consuming learning a new piece can be. So time just flies. I love reading as well and on average I read a book a week or so. When I was younger, I watched a lot of TV but thankfully that has stopped.
I wish there were other things that I did besides music. Truth is, I am not so good at anything else. I don’t cook. I don’t paint. I don’t play sports. But there is absolutely nothing else I enjoy doing besides music. I am still discovering myself. That’s something I am passionate about.
You worked as an RJ and VJ? How was that?
It was so good working with the media. It gives you a whole other exposure that you were unaware of. For instance, I went to a village about a decade ago. They didn’t know I was a singer but they had seen my show on TV. So, when they learnt that I sing too, they were surprised. It definitely helped my music since I got more exposure and if people know you, they want to hear you sing too.
Tell us something about your music school?
I opened a school about two years ago, Keerti Music Academy which has had to be shut down temporarily due to the pandemic. I hope to restart it again when things go back to normal. I love teaching and working with children. Introducing music to children is something I always wanted to do because if you have a good teacher growing up, the love of music stays with you.
How have you evolved over the years?
A lot! I feel like I have grown. I mean literally of course, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I realise my shortcomings and am doing my best to play to my strengths. Every day you learn something new about yourself if you let it.
Greatest life lesson
Life in itself is a lesson. You can’t appreciate the light without the dark. Having said that, I think the greatest life lesson I’ve learnt is ‘you can’t please everyone’. You can do your best but there will always be people who won’t like you, just because they choose not to. And it’s got nothing to do with you.
What are some of the highs and lows you have had to face as a singer?
I have had some incredible highs as a singer. It’s so amazing when you are singing in front of an audience and they sing your song back at you. To know that something you wrote in your room in front of a small piano has now reached thousands of people and has resonated with them. It’s beyond description. There are, of course, a lot of criticism that comes our way too. Some of them are hurtful and some are downright abusive, but you have got to take it all, I guess.
How do you deal with comparison?
This is one of the sad things about being a star kid. I have always been compared to my mother instead of other contemporary singers. And that’s just an incredibly high benchmark to meet which I may never even be able to. Of course, there are some positives to this as well, that I have exposure already. There is always going to be comparison and I deal with it just like that. It is what it is.
Tell us something about your recent release ‘Maya ho ki maya jastai’….
I have been getting so many rave reviews for it. I am overwhelmed and humbled. So many people have heard it and loved it and it has just been such an incredible experience. I got to hear so many positive things about myself and my music.
I’m going to keep singing, that’s for sure. Make more music, more collaborations, etc. Now that we’ve established I do nothing else, I am going to do just one thing and I am going to do it right.