Exclusive Interview With Balendra Shah A.K.A Balen
If you, by any chance, happen to know something about the Nepali Hip-Hop scene then you probably know this guy. He is the one and only Balendra Shah A.K.A Balen. An engineer, a rapper, a song writer, a poet. A true creator indeed. And, our team at Liveasily feels honored to have shared a moment with him during this interview session. So, without further ado let's dive straight into it.
How did Balendra Shah become Balen, a Nepali HipHop icon? Was music always a part of your life or you picked it up along the way. Can we please know how your journey as Balen started?
Balen was always my short name, from childhood but it later on became my stage name as well. Before I settled with the name Balen some of the stage names I experimented with were D Monsta, Pro Wheelie, and some other cheesy monikers which I used to be known as on goldmic.com where I used to text battle since I was in school. We even had rap battles in school, the recess rap battles, of course. Most of the students from our school, Alliance Academy, were rappers. Yama Buddha was one of them. We used to write only in english back then. We had no idea that rap could be written and performed in Nepali as well. But, later on I wrote Sadak Balak song while i was in 9th grade, which I consider as my real step towards this journey.
We all know that you are an engineer as well. Is engineering a passion turned profession as well or is it something for a stable income since arts, in Nepal, is considered as something that isn’t really a career?
I have an equal amount of passion and love for engineering as much as I do for music. Let’s say that I have given my all to engineering and music equally throughout my life. I write and compose music for all of my songs. I play instruments - guitar, madal, tabala, and harmonium to name a few. This passion for instruments has helped me so much on my overall music career. I don’t think many rappers play instruments as well. I think they should really consider to dabble into atleast one instrument so that they get actual theoretical knowledge about music as well. I understand, love and feel ‘Music’. It surely is an integral part of my life. Similarly, engineering is not just a degree for me. I design buildings and bridges, supervise constructions, work with softwares to design better and perform structural analysis of the projects that I undertake. I believe in practicality and applying what you know into practice. Engineering has helped me realise my potential in so many ways and I have happy I chose to do what I love, both music and engineering. Talking about money, both of these careers has not made a million for me yet, but I am proud to say that am both a Musician and an Engineer at the same time trying to make a difference in Nepal however I can.
How do you think Hiphop can make an impact in creating a better society and what role does Balen play in this Hip-Hop revolution happening in Nepal?
Hiphop is the most effective way to express for a youth. Hip-Hop, by itself can be a revolution in making a positive impact and to make those impacts stay permanent in a society and/or a nation. Hiphop, I believe, is the voice of the powerless, voice of equality and equity, voice of each civilian. As rappers we hold responsibility to make sure we address those voices. From streets to assembly, from chautari to television and from medium to media. We hold that responsibility. I have always tried to play my part, either through songs like "Aam Nepali Buwa" or "Tathya" or "Nepal Haseko" or through taking part in activist movements. I have given my best to put forward the voices of many which are still unheard.
Will Balen give the fans something extra and release an album as well or will he stick to the formula that works i.e dropping singles?
Yes, an album has always been a part of my plan, and hopefully it’s just the perfect time to talk about it. For 2019 , I am only trying to settle the graph of my music career with singles. However, 2020 should be the year that you guys listen to my album.
Will we ever see Balen battle again?
Rap Battles have always been the soul of Hip-Hop. I personally don’t feel that I am a good battle rapper, but despite my beliefs the audience has admired me for doing it. I wonder how they like it so much because I still cringe when I watch it (laughs). Anyways, if the circumstances are favourable and I feel it in my heart to do it again, I will.
Once again, thank you Balen for sparing some time out for Liveasily. Wish you nothing but success in the days to come. Hope you reach the heights you want to with both music and engineering. We also think fans and other aspiring musicians can take a lot from your story and point of view. Stay blessed and #liveasily.