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Silence Festival: Nepal's answer to Western melancholy

A fan at Kathmandu's Silence Music Festival
Horns up! A fan at Kathmandu's Silence Music Festival
(Image credit: Derek Bremner)

Metal Hammer has become a regular visitor to Silence, a metal festival in Nepal that aims to showcase local bands, attract international ones, and bring the global scene together. 

This year’s festival is headlined by Testament, and takes place in Kathmandu on December 14. We asked organisers Flower and Bikrant – also guitarist of Nepalese band Underside – what to expect from this year’s festival.

What have you got planned for this year's edition of Silence?

Flower: “This year is one of the most exciting editions for all of us in the team. We are absolutely stoked to host thrash legends Testament for the very first time in Nepal. It feels like we have stepped up our game as a festival. For the first time we’re hosting bands from other region in Asia, like Burgerkill from Indonesia, Queso from Philippines and Trainwreck from Bangladesh. We feel like Silence Festival is bringing the Asian scene together, and we see it as the beginning of something beautiful for the years ahead.”

What does it mean to you to have Testament headlining?

Bikrant: “It’s a massive thing not only for us, but for the entire scene here in Kathmandu. We have been doing the festival for the past nine years, and I can tell you it certainly has been very challenging at times. Nevertheless, I believe due to our determination we are only moving forward, and having Testament on board for this year has been nothing short of energy-boosting to keep going for many years to come. It’s the biggest thing we have done as a festival to date and we hope we continue to host more bands in future.” 

Is it still difficult to run a metal festival in Nepal in 2019, or have the authorities become accustomed to what you do?

Bikrant: “I’d say things are things are slowly progressing! I hope the authorities are finally getting to see what we are doing without any prejudices and support us, because we believe that it’s crucial to have events where bands from all over the world gather in Kathmandu and share their arts on one stage. Such events promote not only art but tourism in Kathmandu and beyond.”

“We are talking with Nepal Tourism Board to work in collaboration for Visit Nepal 2020, a national campaign to promote tourism in Nepal. Our vision is to have the authorities tap into music tourism through Silence Festival. It will build a good partnership between both parties involved, strengthen relationships, as well as contributing more to our economy. We really hope the authorities sees the possibilities we see. 

"More importantly, we want music lovers from all over the world come to Nepal to see their favourite bands.”

Why should people visit Nepal?

Flower: “Nepal is a country with so much diversity and beauty! Now I live in London where it’s mostly grey, the fact that you have guaranteed sunshine there feels like such a luxury to me. Apart from that, our culture, people, food, and the streets full of life are something truly special. A lot of my friends from the UK who’ve been to the festival have later said that their trip has been life-changing for them and they really want to go back again! I truly believe that. There’s something special there!

“Not to mention, if you’re a nature lover or a mountain freak we have fucking Mount Everest there just waiting for you. Or if you’re just tired of the mundane routine of western melancholy, you could just wander into the mountain for days until you find your soul again, haha! Nepal has a lot to offer!”

What should they see when they get there?

Bikrant: “Oh my god, I don’t even know where to begin, man. We have the tallest mountains in the world, lots of amazing national parks and reserves, jungle safaris. On our southern side, we have flat lands with a completely different climate than the Himalayas. Buddha’s birth place is in Nepal, so a lot of Buddhist scholars and followers visit every year!

“Kathmandu itself has a lot of history, our temples and monuments are listed in UNESCO world conservation sites – we have a lot of them! Whatever you’re into – adventures, a spiritual journey, or you just want to experience something different – Nepal is your ticket!”

Underside

Underside at Silence Festival 2018 (Image credit: Derek Bremner)

What makes Silence festival different to other music festivals?

Flower: “At Silence, we share a vision of making Kathmandu the heavy metal destination of the world. I know it sounds ambitious, but slowly we are moving in the right direction. Our intention is beyond just surviving as a festival. We recognise the fact that Nepal is one of the poorest economies on earth, and we want to use our platform to support our country by bringing people from all over the world and encouraging them to explore the country. 

“For the bands who are playing, they are guaranteed a very unique experience and we make sure they are treated like nowhere else. We take pride in our hospitality. Bands gets to do more than just playing our festival – we show them our place though our eyes and offer a wide range of things to do while in Nepal. You could say it’s a holiday destination festival. Bands, if you have been touring relentlessly and need a bit of break, Silence Festival is your stop.” 

When can we expect another album from Underside, and what will it sound like?

Bikrant: “We are hoping to release our new album in March 2020. It’s gonna be a blast. We are super excited about it. You will hear a very aggressive sound with the blend of our ethnic and native sounds. It’s sounding massive! We can’t wait to share this album with you all soon. Watch this space!”

Where can people buy tickets?

Flower: “You can get the tickets online from the festival website if you’re outside of Nepal. If you’re in Nepal, there are tons of ticket outlets through out the city. Or alternatively, you can simply turn up at the gate and get your ticket there! We hope to see you in Silence. Shhhhhh...”

Find out more on the Silence Music Festival Facebook page.

Silence Festival 2019 Poster

(Image credit: Silence Festival)