When Ishan R Onta, Dipesh Gurung and Raunaq Adhikari first traveled to Kau Danda near Pokhara to work on their single, Aparichit, two years ago, they knew they would return. The trio, members of a Nepalese indie band called The elements, had been working on the song for a while, but for some reason couldn’t make it. But, a few days in Kau Danda were enough for them to finish it.
“It was a great experience. It made us realize that we needed this space to create what we wanted to create and it brought us back there,” says Onta, the band’s lead singer.
In January 2021, the trio, gear in hand, reached Kau Danda again. This time they wanted to work on their new album: Urja. The reason for going there was simple: to create music in complete freedom and in a state of bliss. On the hill some 50 kilometers from Pokhara, freedom is what they found.
“We made this album in a state of happiness,” adds Adhikari, who is the band’s guitarist. “We wanted to push ourselves to our limits and create a type of music that we didn’t have in the past. This place helped us do just that.
The album was launched on December 11 at a show held at the premises of 5150 Productions, where hundreds of The Elements fans lined up to hear them sing new songs. They weren’t disappointed because the album had a bit of everything. From rock ballads to punk rock overtones, the five-track album takes people on a journey.
The quest for novelty
“The response has been good so far and we hope more people will listen to it in the coming months,” says Onta.
The idea of the album is based on the post-Covid world. All three stuck at home, the confinement gave them time for introspection. But, to put it bluntly, they knew they had to get away from Kathmandu.
“I don’t think we could have made the album staying in Kathmandu because we needed the freedom the place gave us. We were all free to do what we wanted, but when it was time to work, we found our socks and did what we had to do,” says Adhikari.
The Elements wanted to create an album musically different from what they had done. They had realized that their concerts were happening at the same pace, which they felt was not correct. So through this album, they wanted to try to give something different.
“We feel like we did something different with Aparachit and Sawari, but we wanted to keep it that way,” says Elements percussionist Gurung. “Once you start, you have to keep pushing yourself to get to the next level.”
In an effort to evolve both lyrically and musically, they began composing music together. They had done it in the past too, but this time things were different as they were all in the same place at the same time.
“Space and time were just concepts for us. We don’t care. We did what we wanted to do, but when it came to music, we came together. I think it was a pretty conscious process,” adds Onta, who says there was a feeling among them that every word of every song meant more to them.
That’s why when they started writing, the songs came to them automatically. They say every song grew on them. For Urja, the title track, they wrote the chorus first, after which the rest of the song practically wrote itself. Maybe that’s why the song sounds fresh and like its title, it’s full of energy. Onta is awesome as usual, but the drum work on the title track is commendable.
Upahar is similar to previous The Elements songs but has something new. Adhikari’s guitar work is utterly impeccable with his solo that is sure to go ‘Woah’ during concerts. They say this song is about love and add that writing it was quite easy at a time when the three were alone in the jungle on the hill.
Bhaag is a song for revolutionaries. But, if you look at it only through the musical lens, it’s great because it’s full of energy. They say this one grew on them while they were making it.
“It’s our breakthrough song, in which we want to tell people not to let anyone bury the art and the artist in them,” says Onta.
Tyaag was something The Elements had prepared for their previous album, but since they wanted to work on it more, they didn’t release it. It could be a great move because they turned the song into something really great.
The song that took the longest time, they say, was Indirya. It’s the last title of the album and probably the best too. Onta calls it the most positive song on the album, but it took a lot for them to write and compose this song.
“We have reached a threshold, I think. In six days, we had written and composed three songs. But when it came to Indiya, there was nothing we could do. It was really frustrating,” says Gurung.
But, the elements succeeded. They knew they had what it took to produce a catchy, high-tempo song. Despite their insecurities, they finally finished composing it and went to record their album.
Recording was also a fun and educational experience, say The Elements. The album was recorded at 5150 Productions where the likes of Bikash Bhujel and Steven Tamang did a wonderful job capturing and presenting the ideas the band played with.
“They took us to a higher level. We have worked with Bikas dai before, but this year we recorded everything with him and we realized what we want to sound like in the future,” says Adhikari, adding that it was the best sound The Elements have ever recorded. .
On the road to the masses
People on the scene also agree. The Noodle album review praised the work done by the band and 5150.
“The multiple inputs and stereo overlay definitely made the mix punchy and the drums sound great. This album is a great example of what happens when good ideas meet a good mix.” the review reads.
Now, The Elements wants to spread its music to as many people as possible. Having recorded the album, they both want to tour Nepal and go abroad.
“We have never done a tour in Nepal and we think it would be good. Along with this, we also wanted to travel abroad and bring a part of Nepal with us to Nepalese living abroad,” says Onta, “but unfortunately due to Covid-19, we have no couldn’t do it. But we hope that things will calm down and that we can go to concerts abroad.