Home Bot CategoriesLivingMusical Conversation SHE HITS DIFFERENT – SUMNIMA SETLING


by wowmagazine

Sumnima Setling, famously known as Amazumi, is among the few Nepali female hip-hop artistes living her passion. Born in Hong Kong, Sumnima lived in Nepal for a few years and is currently based in Belgium. She started pursuing music full-time in 2017 after being selected in De Nieuwe Lichting, a nationwide music competition in Belgium. Sumnima recently performed in Nepal. The artiste is addicted to feeling both fire and ice, unleashing her wrath on stage and then retreating into her cocoon before emerging as a celebrity again. The rapper seeks beauty in the smallest of things and often connects with strangers like they’ve known each other forever. To learn about her musical journey, Anushka Shrestha from WOW talked to her.

How did you get into music?

It’s probably a combination of things that nurtured my love for music and especially performance. My father’s side of the family has always been musical and involved in their own projects. Music jams were regular while I was growing up. My dad’s younger brother once gifted me an electric guitar and encouraged all my musical endeavours. I played in every school band, performed in plays, dances, karaoke contests and concerts. Then, I landed in London in the middle of rap cyphers that introduced me to the art of emceeing, then came recording my first bars and then evolving further as an artiste in Gent, Belgium. 

You were one of the eight finalists of De Nieuwe Lichting in Belgium, what was your experience?

It was quite refreshing to be in a contest that had no gimmicks. For someone who doesn’t make ‘radio’ music, I was excited to be chosen for my own unique musicality. It was also exhilarating to be performing alongside breathtaking artistes like Tamino. We were all still wet behind the ears but I was, blown away by the artists around me. And everyone came in with so much love and humility. The best part about the experience was the final performances we gave at Ancienne Belgique, one of the finest concert venues in Belgium. Plus, it opened a lot of doors and people in Nepal also began to sit up and take notice. That whole year turned into an amazing tour.

Tell us something about your second EP ‘Riot’

Riot was written around the time I was coming to terms with a lot of inner turmoil that had been built up over the years, parallel to everything that was happening in the world. It is an open letter to the way systems and people who are supposed to care have failed us and the planet, the need for us all to escape and the premature deaths of many friends, often to suicide. I released this project independently and created my own campaign with people in my own music community. 

How difficult is it to survive as a Nepali artist in a foreign land?

I have been fortunate to benefit from the privilege, where there is a persistent cultural sector that aids in creating platforms for artistes, spaces to collaborate and sustain the culture despite nation-wide budget cuts. That is not to say that representation is whole. There aren’t a lot of Asians that I have seen spotlighted in the music scene although I know there should be more out there. 

Particularly as a Nepali, I don’t think I have had the chance to connect with a lot of Nepali listeners here especially with the music I make. However, the few girls that I connected with at Made in Asia in Brussels last year were blown away and have been mad supporters ever since. 

You recently performed in several places in Nepal. How is it different from performing elsewhere?

I felt a type of connection in Nepal I hadn’t felt anywhere else. I have felt appreciation outside of Nepal, and people paying attention to every lyric and showering positive feedback after every show. But for people to truly grasp the weight behind a word like “Hangma” (Queen in Limbu language), recognise lines from a Bhailini song (that I perform in an unreleased track) and feel the warmth and pride that I have experienced in Nepal hits different. It hits home. Plus, headbangers in Nepal are hardcore. That gives me so much more energy. 

In Belgium, people tend to be more conservative as an audience especially. Nepal generally made me feel this raw, untapped energy that needed a release.

What’s next?

I am releasing some singles first and quite a few collaborations before I begin working on a solid album next year. The plan is to come back to Nepal and connect with my mother’s roots in places like Rukum and go back to Dharan and Darjeeling to reconnect with my dad’s side of the family. I’d love to sample the sounds of our rituals and ceremonies and the way of life and make music on the road. Then I’d come back to Kathmandu to work with musicians in the valley to finish the songs. 

There are two particular ideas that I had worked on years ago while I was dabbling in production. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the sounds I had sampled and the musicality of those beats were so close to the sounds that a friend had sampled at Rukum recently. It’s going to be exciting.

If not a musician…Visual artist
Favourite genre…Crossovers
One thing you can’t do without…Music
Your go to song…Envelopes – bowdown

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