With nearly a million subscribers on YouTube, Sajjan Raj Vaidya is one of the most popular musicians in the country today. “Hataarindei Bataasindei”, “Chitthi Bhittra” and “Hawaijahaj” are some of his songs that have immense popularity. He is adulated by his fans for his beautiful voice and incredible lyrics that have a way of resonating with his listeners.
In a conversation about music, Sajjan talks about his journey as an artiste, his perspective on music as a career, his playlist and more.
What is the creative process behind your music?
As a team, we always prioritise making quality content. I am involved in making the music, and my team is responsible for reaching the audience. We think about how we can make the video in our way. We are focused on making our music a complete package from its audio to its video. Recently, we did a song “Sasto Mutu” and until I arrived on the set, I didn’t know what the story line for the video was. I did have some briefing, but my team built it all with their ideas and concept.
You received a mixed reaction for your new single “Sasto Mutu”. How do you respond to that?
I didn’t realise that there were such sorts of reaction from the public. I think the audience really enjoyed it. But yes, I did see some memes on social media and thought they were funny. We have a crucial principle in our team that the work is not for the fame; it’s for the quality of what we are creating. So, we hope that people like our work, but once it’s out in the market place, it’s out of our hands on how people take it. We wanted to make the video of Sasto Mutu like an old Nepali movie in a sarcastic way. Thanks to our director and production team for the way it turned out.
How difficult is it for an artiste in Nepal?
From the experiences that I have had until now, I finally understand the situation of artistes in Nepal. And it is different from America. In America, an artiste whether it’s a musician, an actor, painter or a chef, they all have equal respect in their field. They can claim the value that they deserve for the hard work they do. But, in Nepal the same thing can be mistaken for arrogance. People are proud that Nepalis are earning their name globally, but at the same time they don’t understand the resources and effort it takes to create such art. If you want an “international” level artiste or such, then your thinking should also be of “international” level and it is absolutely wrong to shut down an artiste saying that they can get “exposure” without giving them the value they deserve. We artistes know our value and demand, so we will go where we can grow and thrive.
Do you think musicians are supported for their choice of career by their family?
Fortunately, I had every support from my family. My brother and my parents encouraged me to pursue music. Not only did they support me, but when I went to University they wanted me to learn music. It was me who said that I will definitely do music, but I also want to explore and learn something else. Having said that I am also aware that Nepal does not have the same environment and it is hard for people to get support from their family. One controversial thing about Nepali society is that, initially when a person starts making music or creates any art, they label them as “idle” and eventually when they start getting “views” on Tiktok and other platforms then suddenly, they are proud of the same person. I think the same support that the person gets after becoming famous or so should exist from the very beginning. Also, another funny thing is how parents proudly introduce their children if they are involved in studying something “reputable”, but if their daughter is a dancer or anything else, then they tend not to do so. If someone comes up to me and says that their family doesn’t support them, then I might advise them to fight for it and pursue it because what you love to do is worth more than something you don’t really enjoy doing.
In America, an artiste whether it’s a musician, an actor, painter or a chef, they all have equal respect in their field. They can claim the value that they deserve for the hard work they do. But, in Nepal the same thing can be mistaken for arrogance.
How important are the lyrics to a song?
It’s very important for me. When I make music, I think of words and organise it to be presented in a best way possible. For example, it is simple and straightforward to say to someone “I love you” but if you express it in a much deeper sense using the right words with more feelings then it becomes more impactful and meaningful. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that lyrics should always be of great meaning or depth. We do love some songs… something as simple as a chat over a cup of tea. So, it doesn’t mean that songs with only deeper lyrics get popular or appreciated.
Who is your favourite musician and someone who want to collaborate with?
Internationally, it has always been John Mayer for me. Nationally, it would be great if I could collaborate with Narayan Gopal. He was one of the greatest lyricists of our country and if his lyrics existed now, it would have been sensational. Also, there are many artistes like Rohit Shakya, Sagun and more with whom I would love to collaborate.
What’s on your playlist?
I have a variety of songs from Bollywood, Nepali to English on my playlist. There might not be many mainstream songs except one or two of Doja Cat. I discover songs and listen to them, so I have songs of different genres. The only genre that is left to make it to my playlist might be “Dohori”. Also, my interests in genres are fading with time; in the past I used to listen to a lot of Metal.
How does it feel when the cover of your songs pop-up on YouTube recommendation?
I think it’s impressive that an artiste can listen to another artiste, learn it, execute it, and create their own version. I feel happy and I appreciate their effort.
How long are you here for?
I didn’t leave America with any plans so I don’t exactly know that. Recently, we did shows and released songs, so I might stay for quite some time and see how everything goes.
I do want to collaborate with more artistes. Also, we have a lot of songs coming up. We want to make more music with variety of songs. However, we are not prioritising any shows because of Covid and are more focused on making music.