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At 19, she is already recording songs for a full-length album that is slated to hit the market mid-January. Singer-songwriter Astha Tamang-Maskey is a young talent based in Toronto, Canada, who has returned home with the aim of…coming out with a solo album

"My biggest inspiration is my mom, who is also a singer. Although she is not in the limelight, she has contributed a lot to music and has always been my mentor," says Astha during a short interview with the City Post the other day. "I don't know when I started singing. It was always in the family."
She says that singing started as a hobby. She was regularly taking part in "music competitions at my school". When she was 12, her family moved to Canada. This turned out to be the most difficult phase of Astha's life. "I was relentlessly struggling to come to terms with a new place and people. Being very young and with nobody whom I could turn to, I was having a really tough time making friends and gelling with people."
Astha stopped singing. "Being a very quiet girl, I found it hard to get along with people. I was taking a lot of time to make friends. Then, one fine day, I decided to stop singing."
After a two-year hiatus, she came to Nepal on a vacation. "I was really happy to meet my friends and relatives back home." With a twinkle of happiness in her eyes, says Astha, "After that vacation everything changed. I returned to Canada and I don't know… I just started writing stuff. It dawned on me that it was the best way to vent my feelings. I started jotting down my feelings and there has been no looking back ever since."
She believes it was her home (Nepal) that inspired the wonderful miracle. Nepal gave her new inspiration to write and sing again. "I started taking part in programmes in school. People liked it.” She quickly adds, "Shortly after my visit to Nepal, I took up guitar classes and was soon strumming."
After finishing her high school, Astha took a year off from her studies and got herself enrolled into Independent Music Production. In a year, she learned many necessary things about independent music production which is "very important if you want to bring out your music independently". She shares, "I learned many things about pre-production including micro-phone technique, recording, CD manufacturing, cover-design, budgeting, among others."
Now that she is finally recording her album, "I'm finding it easy. The things I learned at Independent are proving a boon as I've got some idea of recording and a lot of other things that have made my work easy. It has also enabled me to work according to my plans without wasting time."
Before coming here, Astha gave a demo that was financially supported by her friend and music producer Ben Pinkerton. “All the songs were in English." But who knew she would take up the challenge of writing and singing songs in Nepali? "It was the biggest challenge for me. Thanks to my mom, whose consistent nudge and encouragement to sing in Nepali gave me tremendous confidence; I was soon working on a full-length Nepali album."
Most of the songs in her album are written by her mom, some are her own. Ask her about the songs and she answers, "They are about feelings and people. Although most of them are about my feelings I'm really happy to hear that people can relate to my songs, which has boosted my confidence level. At one time, I was performing in a show in Toronto. A lady came up to me and said the song I'd just performed felt like it was about her. It was a great moment for me."
“It's encouraging to know that through songs and music, you can connect with the people, so much so that you are sharing your happiness and sadness with the listeners." The songs her mom writes are especially revolutionary.
Astha felt it was necessary to give something to Nepali crowd as she felt "it is important to win the hearts of Nepalis before I offer anything to rest of the world. Plus the world is watching you, listening to you and browsing you no matter where you are through different technologies. I get mails from different parts of the world asking when I'm going to take out an album. That makes me feel happy."
She draws her inspiration from likes of Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Justin Nozuka, Ben Harper, Looza and Abhaya Subba, among others. She says, “I admire Abhaya Subba very much. Her bold and strong voice is inspirational. I haven't heard anyone from Nepal sing like her."
Rohit Shakya from The Shadows is helping her a lot with recordings. "He's a very talented man who is helping me effortlessly." Apart from him, the blues outfit Looza and Abhisek Bhadra from JCS Trio are also coming to her aide with the music.
Queried if she is going to study music, Astha says modestly, "I haven't thought about that. But I will definitely continue with my studies. I would love to study music but that's costly and you cannot say you will earn riches doing music, or make your living, at the end of the day, money counts too. But music will always be my passion."
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