After performing online for years,YouTube star Natasha Shah released her debut album last month
Every time Natasha Shah aka Nattu comes on stage – which is quite frequently these days – she immediately cracks a joke to calm herself. But if there are nerves, the audience wouldn’t know. Everything about the 23-year-old singer, song writer, comedian, and aspiring director - the dapper blazer, perfectly spiked gelled hair, and that impish smile - exudes confidence. And when she starts crooning the latest single from her new album or a rendition of Maroon 5’s One More Night, hearts begin to flutter.
Growing up in a musically inclined family, Natasha remembers how she loved being the centre of attention at family gatherings; turning the living room into an impromptu stage, strumming her miniature guitar and belting out her all-time favourite Nepali Babu-Made in Nepal. The young singer would often accompany uncle Deepak Thapa of Bidesh janey mayalu fame to his studio where she says she began to understand the intricacies of the business.
In school she bagged lead roles in musicals every year, winning the talent competition in Grade10 being one of her most cherished memories. As the lead singer of her college band, she would always be the first person to get her group registered for gigs and competitions around town where she mainly played metal and heavy rock for the first year and later shifted to more calming rock and roll.
Like most young artists today, Natasha began her musical career on YouTube. In 2004 she posted an original number called Ma dherai maya garchu (Nattu’s song) which went viral and racked up close to 200,000 views. But she only found out about her celebrity status four years later when she was in London studying for her diploma in music.
Encouraged by the positive response, she uploaded more acoustic covers as well as original numbers like Pahilo maya, one of her most popular songs. Within a year, Nattu had enough hits to make her a local celebrity among the Nepali diaspora in the UK. Performances at Nepali charity events and gatherings like Nepali Battle of the Bands where she came second and weekend gigs at Fusiliens Pub followed.
By the time she completed her degree and returned home in 2011, Natasha had built a small but loyal following in Kathmandu with more than one million views and 4,000 subscribers to her channel. “Performing in London was definitely easier because Nepalis there always cheered me in unison. I was one of them,” she admits. “In Kathmandu, I am judged, sometimes unfairly, by a small number of music lovers and critiques, it is difficult to please all of them.”
Natasha released her self-titled debut album in May this year. The seven tracker, an interesting hybrid of English and Nepali pop ballads on love, heartbreak, friendship, escapes the derivative nature of the genre through her sheer conviction and individuality of voice. “I don’t like following the crowd, that’s not my style. Even though I am most comfortable performing acoustic, I experimented with a lot of different instruments for the album,” she explains.
You can catch Nattu on Friday nights at popular hangouts in the Valley jamming with band mates Ajit, Kishor, Birat, and Pema. And when she’s not practicing and performing, you’ll find her riding her Suzuki DR around town or writing scripts for comedy videos. “I have been singing for as long as I remember, but I feel my real calling in life is to make movies. I want to become the Farhan Akthar of Nepal. I adore his talent and versatility,” she says about the Indian actor, director, singer as she breaks into a wide grin.
Watch nattu's video
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