Q&A with Nepali blues musician Prakash Slim, keeper of Delta style roots blues with a tasty Nepalese flavor

"I think if we can aware people for social issues, education, health and other global issues through music would be a great achievement for a musician. We can also empower people through music. I would like to do the same way. For me satisfaction is key to a well lived."

Prakash Slim: Namaste Blues

Prakash Slim was born mired deep in the blues. Born in a small village in Nepal, his father died at the age of twenty-nine, leaving his mother with three children to raise on her own. Slim started hearing old blues records when he was a child, and he first played music by drumming on a set of gallon water jugs, and he sing to the beat all damn day. Sometimes he almost drove his mother crazy. Due to his difficult childhood growing up in dire poverty, Slim is died in the wool bluesman. He’s been playing and teaching blues for a long time. For over twelve years he played lead, rhythm, bass as well as vocalist for various bands throughout Nepal. After completing serious blues research with the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund in Mississippi and going through blues mentorship training with blues, jazz pioneer T.J Wheeler, he totally shifted to country blues style.

(Prakash Slim, Nepal 2021 / Photo © by Adam Kennedy, All Rights Reserved)

Ram Prakash Pokharel aka Prakash Slim is not only doing research in Blues music but also teaching Blues in schools. Prakash Slim is honored with "Blues Ambassador and Keeper of the Music Tradition" from Granite State Blues Society, New Hampshire, USA. Prakash actively participated on 8th annual International Conference on the Blues hosted by Delta State University, Mississippi, USA. He serves as a member of the board of associates for Mount Zion Memorial Fund, Mississippi, USA. Prakash Slim and his forthcoming release “Country Blues from Nepal” is set for February 4th 2022, on DeVille Records. Some fine Delta style blues with a tasty Nepalese flavor.

Interview by Michael Limnios / Photos © by Adam Kennedy, All rights reserved

Prakash Slim, 2019 Interview @ blues.gr

How do you think that you have grown as an artist since you first started making music?

Well, I think even a small thing we learn is helpful for us. When I started making music I was just like a soft (raw) clay. I would know theoretical stuffs but gradually I learnt their application. Certainly, I got muscle memory more developed by the time passing.  I played different styles of music such as Blues Rock, Nepali, Indian, instrumental and so on.. but most important thing for me is that to know what style/genre suits or sinks to me. Now I think Country Delta Blues really sinks me and this is my style, so I feel I have been growing day by day.

What has remained the same about your music-making process?

I write words and make tunes (rhythm and groves) separately, after completion of writing words I usually try to fit music and words together. So this process has remained the same  about my making music process.

What musicians have continued  to inspire you and your music?

I think all the country delta blues musicians have continued to inspire me and my music.

What are some of most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music path?

The most important lessons I think are passion, devotion and patience. If we have a passion and devotion we can get success and satisfaction in our career.

If you had a question you would like to ask another musician what would it be?

If I had a question, I'd like to ask is there anything that can replace music in their life?

"I write words and make tunes (rhythm and groves) separately, after completion of writing words I usually try to fit music and words together. So this process has remained the same  about my making music process. I think all the country delta blues musicians have continued to inspire me and my music." (Prakash Slim, Nepal 2021 / Photo © by Adam Kennedy, All Rights Reserved)

Currently you've your debut release by DeVille Records (Luxembourg, France) in Europe. How did that relationship come about?

Well, I and my good friend Carl Wyatt from France first met about two years ago on Facebook. We started talking and would talk almost everyday and I was learning many things from him. I didn't have a well device to edit my video stuffs and do other things so he would help me in each and everything's. Oneday, I told him that I have a dream of releasing an album and he said he will help me releasing my cd. He said he will do mixing and his drummer called Yves DeVille has a label “DeVille Records” and studio in Luxembourg. Carl added we will do mastering there and cd will be out from this label. Carl he has been helping continuously. He is a true friend. I love him and so grateful for his friendship.

Do you have any interesting stories about the making  the new album “Country Blues From Nepal”?

 Well, I think the whole process of making an album could be an interesting story. I would write words and send to my friend Henry Jones in USA for editing, phrasing etc... Henry and I became friends few years back through Facebook. I asked him for helping me to write the words. So he helped me writing words amazingly. As Carl's suggestion, one day I went to a studio in Nepal and recorded songs during pandemic and sent to Carl for mixing. I also met Fabrizio Poggi, a great Italian harp player and his wife Angela. I found they are so supportive and we did a collaboration too. I asked Angela to ask to Fabrizo to play harmonica in some of my songs and she told me to send a WAV files for recording harmonica. I played at some of the major blues festivals virtually during this time and featured/interviewed for some major blues publications. Some of my songs got on the radios in USA, Canada, Australia, Europe, UK and in some other countries and got some good recognition as well. Last year I met Adam Kennedy and got opportunity to feature in his virtual photography project. Those things helped me a lot and encouraged me to do an album. Because of pandemic there was ups and downs and we stopped several times. We had a technical issues and financial lack, and I got depressed too. Yves mastered my cd and helped us amazingly. Without his support my album wouldn't be on DeVille Records. It's been two years we have been working on cd and because of Carl, his team, Lance and Kat's continuous efforts and support we are on this stage of “Country Blues From Nepal”. Isn't it interesting?

"Well I don't know much but I think we must preserve the traditional music styles and their history, without it we will lose our own history. Music have no boundaries so we can preserve it from any corner in the world. I think music industry plays the vital to preserve the culture and tradition.  If we do not preserve our traditional culture and styles we may lose it soon and there won't be nothing to show the later generation of music." (Prakash Slim, Nepal 2021 / Photo © by Adam Kennedy, All Rights Reserved)

What has been the hardest obstacle for you to overcome as a person and as artist and has this helped you become a better blues musician?

You know I was born in the small village where people wouldn't know little about music and wouldn't support artists. I still remember that I didn't have money to buy a $15 guitar. I would go to school, where had a mats made of straw instead of bench and desks. People would laugh seeing me play guitar. So I think economic depression and social circumstances have been hardest obstacle for me to overcome as a person and as artist. Indeed, I have a passion of music and I would think that I will try to be a good bluesman and it is helping me to do a better everyday.

What moment changed your life the most ? What's been the highlights in your life and career so far ?

Well there are some moments that changed my life and career. When I met my mentor Mr. C.B Chhetri in around 2000 A.D. I learnt music (mainly theory) with him and he offered me to join his band and then I started my musical career professionally. This was a great moment for me. In 2017 I met a friend called Fred Love from Tennessee on Facebook, who gifted me a guitar and some slides. That was the highlighting point of my career because after that I could start playing country blues on resonator guitar using slides. Then after a few months I met my mentor, a good friend blues jazz pioneer Mr. T.J Wheeler and Dr. T.D Moore, director of Mt. Zion Memorial Fund, Mississippi. I believe that was really a most important moment of my career when I officially started researching in blues and completed blues mentorship training under T.J Wheeler through Mt. Zion with the help of Dr. Moore. That was the time I totally shifted to the country blues style. For me, another great moment of my career is to connect with my true friend Carl Wyatt, without him it wouldn't be possible to think about an album on international label. While I was playing for CAN'T STOP THE BLUES, I met my true friends Lance Bowman and Kat McNeill and they have been supporting me financially and morally for my career and other areas of my life. I truly believe they have been changing my personal life and career so far. I am so grateful for Carl, Lance and Kat's friendship and love them so much.

How do you want the music to affect people ? What do you think is key to a well lived ?                                 (Ram Prakash Pokharel aka Prakash Slim, Lalitpur, Nepal 2020)

I think if we can aware people for social issues, education, health and other global issues through music would be a great achievement for a musician. We can also empower people through music. I would like to do the same way. For me satisfaction is key to a well lived.

"The most important lessons I think are passion, devotion and patience. If we have a passion and devotion we can get success and satisfaction in our career."

Artist and labels will have to adapt to the new changes. What your predictions for the music industry ? How do you think the music industry will adapt to it ?

Well I don't know much but I think we must preserve the traditional music styles and their history, without it we will lose our own history. Music have no boundaries so we can preserve it from any corner in the world. I think music industry plays the vital to preserve the culture and tradition. If we do not preserve our traditional culture and styles we may lose it soon and there won't be nothing to show the later generation of music.

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