Q&A with Nepali guitarist Ashesh Dangol aka Himalayan Hendrix, honored and awarded with several national and International awards

"Blues is the existence. In this materialistic world, understanding Blues is a must because Blues has always been the voice of the voiceless. The deep root of the blues still exists in our society and culture which we are passing from generation to generation. When we see the Blues in every walk of life and share accordingly, it will definitely change the life of our existence."

Ashesh Dangol: All Those Beautiful Dreams

Ashesh Dangol aka Himalayan Hendrix needs no introduction in the Blues world. During his 2010 Europe tour he was given the title “Himalayan Hendrix” by Norwegian and German press. He was already honored and awarded with several national and International awards and featured in many national and international newspapers, magazines, televisions, radios and other digital platforms. To name a few he was awarded by Colorado Music Business Organization for his contribution in music in 2015. He has also headlined some of the major international music festivals, like Alamar 2007 Music Festival (Almeria, Spain), Edinburgh Mela Festival 2011 (Scotland), Fauskivalen Music Festival 2010 (Norway), It’s All Gravey Festival 2011 (England), Herzberg Festival 2011(Germany), Blues and Balance Festival 2010 (Norway), Kathmandu Blues Festival 2006 (Nepal), North Meets South Music Festival(Bhaktapur, Nepal) to name a few.  He is the person to introduce his unique fuse of Nepali Rhythm, Blues, Rock and World music in the international platform and a Blues ambassador of Nepal to the world. He has toured in 11 different countries which includes The USA, Norway, England, Scotland, Germany, Spain, Thailand, etc. and has 6 different studio albums to his credit. He formed his band Nekhvam in 1994 and has been teaching Blues and promoting Blues music since then. Kathmandu Blues Festival , North meets South Music Festival and Blues For A Cause are some of the events he has been organizing till now.

(Ashesh Dangol / Photo by Debbie Rana)

Ashesh has always been involved in social issues and believes in Art with an activism. During the massive Earthquake 2015 in Nepal, he was actively involved to help the victims for almost 6 months building temporary shelters, donating foods, cloths and medicine with the help of family friends and bandmates for the needy ones. And in 2016, he toured in Norway with the slogan Pray and Play for Nepal with the support from Reis Nepal. Likewise, during this time of Covid 19 Corona Virus Pandemic outbreak, he has continued the project Blues for A Cause through Facebook virtual Live Series with Blues Artists around the world. The reason behind organizing this event is to heal the world and panicked souls through the music with the help and support from Blues artists around the world. More than 54 different Bands/ Artists from different parts of the world which includes NEPAL, The USA, JAPAN, EUROPE, INDIA, LATIN AMERICA, and AUSTRALIA, participated in the virtual live show. In September 2022, Ashesh released his 6th album “All Those Beautiful Dreams” in the Theatre of Rastriya Naach Ghar, Kathmandu, Nepal. All the songs in the album are written, composed, mixed/ mastered and produced by Ashesh Dangol.

Interview by Michael Limnios             Ashesh Dangol, 2015 interview @ blues.gr

How has the Blues and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

It makes me speak and stand. In short, I would say “Voice of the voiceless”. My perspective has changed a lot in this journey of life; from Art to Activism and to understand the value of life, I dig deeper into the form of Art and Spirituality. The modern Blues and Rock might be in different directions, but my understanding and practice has taken me in the journey of togetherness. The influence is definitely in the root where there is no division but the pure form of Music.

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

In the journey along with practice and experience, I have realized that Music and Art are two different practices. Before I was a musician playing music, but now I am an Artist who plays music as a tool. To become an Artist is a long journey and a process. Once you are an Artist you can create so many things in life with music. There are no boundaries, and the exploration is infinite. Music definitely can heal once you are an Artist. Art is a life to live on.

"I think the music industry is already in the process of adapting it. Music shouldn’t be self-centric with language, race, place, economy and media exposure, but after the influence of the social media, we have crossed its boundary. Now we have the access of the world music in our hands." (Ashesh Dangol / Photo by Anna Dangol)

What has remained the same about your music-making process? Where does your creative drive come from?

Value of life and humbleness. I don’t sit down to create music, it flows within self. I’ll just note it down when I feel like, actually the music is already there. Life exists because there is rhythm in it. Without rhythm there is no definition of life and without rhythm there is no music.

Once you open yourself to nature the music flows within. Our circumstances might be different in life and that way our expression, experience may be different but music is always there in different forms. Once you know how to use that tool it's always there. My surroundings are my creative source.

Why do you think that the Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following in Nepal?

Because of it's pure form and its basics. Blues is everywhere in the world, the language, practice and the form might be different but it's everywhere. 

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, on the road with Greyhound in the USA which you’d like to share with us?

International Blues Jam in Rum Boogie, Bale Street, Memphis, Tennessee is definitely a memorable one. I have never met so many outstanding musicians in one place for the Jam session. And when I got up on the stage everybody was shocked to see a Chinese looking Nepali guy on the stage with a guitar. I was excited to meet lots of musicians from abroad during the 2020 International Blues Challenge but there was very few participations from Asia and Africa.

Greyhound was such an experience to explore different sides of the USA and it was an eye opening. I wrote many songs during my travels through GreyHound buses. Human VS Machine is the song from my new album “All Those Beautiful Dreams” which I wrote during my tour from Savannah, Georgia to Panama City, Florida in GreyHound Bus.

"My perspective has changed a lot in this journey of life; from Art to Activism and to understand the value of life, I dig deeper into the form of Art and Spirituality. The modern Blues and Rock might be in different directions, but my understanding and practice has taken me in the journey of togetherness. The influence is definitely in the root where there is no division but the pure form of Music." (Ashesh Dangol / Photo by Sagar Bashnet)

Currently you’ve one more release your 6th album. Do you have any stories about the making of the new album?

Yes, my 6th album “All Those Beautiful Dreams” is finally released, which I recorded in my studio in Kathmandu, Nepal. This album is all about my life experience during my tour and stay in The USA. I had never thought my life would change this much. The ways I had picturised the USA before I experienced it, and after, was mind blowing. Life is really different on the other side of the world. I had met so many beautiful souls and at the same time faced a lot of challenges during my stay.  However, life exists in every circumstance that comes ahead of you. 

Artists and labels will have to adapt to the new changes. What are your predictions for the music industry?

Social Media has influenced a lot in the music industry. It is such a difficult time for the professionals. This is yet another practice and it will definitely take a few years to come back to normal. The beauty is that we are hearing so many talented musicians in new forms. Before it was ruled by the corporation and now it's in public too. Once we know how to balance it, musicians will once again have an easy life ahead.

How do you think the music industry will adapt to it?

I think the music industry is already in the process of adapting it. Music shouldn’t be self-centric with language, race, place, economy and media exposure, but after the influence of the social media, we have crossed its boundary. Now we have the access of the world music in our hands.

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

Being patient, humble, practice and always be the voice of the voiceless. Togetherness and love is the answer. Music creates life. When it blossoms, we become one. Life is beautiful.

"Social Media has influenced a lot in the music industry. It is such a difficult time for the professionals. This is yet another practice and it will definitely take a few years to come back to normal. The beauty is that we are hearing so many talented musicians in new forms. Before it was ruled by the corporation and now it's in public too. Once we know how to balance it, musicians will once again have an easy life ahead."

(Ashesh Dangol / Photo by Isabel Schiffler)

What is the impact of Blues on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

Blues is the existence. In this materialistic world, understanding Blues is a must because Blues has always been the voice of the voiceless. The deep root of the blues still exists in our society and culture which we are passing from generation to generation. When we see the Blues in every walk of life and share accordingly, it will definitely change the life of our existence. 

There are many kinds of music we hear and explore these days. But if you are talking about the music which we call as an Art, it is affecting people deep into their consciousness. Music should be for the well being of humanity and its existence. Music is an Art of Living. Music creates life and we are living.

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