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An Exclusive with Sonam Rinchen

Sonam Rinchen stands at the forefront as the lead vocalist of the band Oโ€™strangers, captivating audiences with his mesmerizing voice. His musical journey is a testament to the power of passion and talent in the world of music. In this insightful Q&A session, we take a deep dive into Sonam Rinchenโ€™s remarkable odyssey, while also uncovering the profound inspirations that fuel his unique musical creations.

Rinchenโ€™s journey in the music industry began as a humble aspiration, but over the years, his dedication and sheer talent have transformed him into a beloved figure among music enthusiasts throughout the country. His soulful melodies and heartfelt lyrics resonate with listeners on a profound level, touching the very core of their emotions.

Q. Can you share about your journey on how you discovered your unique singing voice that has resonated so deeply with the Bhutanese people?
A. I want to say that it is all about constant practice, I have been practicing singing ever since I can remember. During my days as a student, I listened to popular Bhutanese singers like Ugyen Pandey and Misty Terrace. I also listened to foreign artists like Enrique Iglesias, Akon and Shayne ward. So I suppose you could say that my style of singing gradually came through the influence of these artists.

Q. How did your stage name become โ€œZombieโ€?
A. Before I used to perform frequently in bars and pubs, some of my friends told me that my eyes resembled those of a Zombie, a fictional Western monster that appears in many movies. Ever since then, my stage name has stuck.

Q. How do you personally connect with the emotions of a song to deliver such impactful performances?
A. I believe the emotions stem from the lyrics themselves. The credit goes to Sonam Jurmey; he is such a great songwriter that itโ€™s even hard for me to comprehend the meaning of his lyrics. When he explains what each sentence in his lyrics means, I get so mesmerized that I want to do justice to his songs by giving my best to convey the meaning and emotions of the song.

Q. Whatโ€™s your favorite song from Oโ€™ strangers?
A. One of my favorite songs from our band is called โ€œSoung,โ€ which directly translates to โ€œstory.โ€ To provide an overview of the song, itโ€™s about a man who is in love with a woman. Whatโ€™s particularly interesting about this song is that it references Bhutanese folktales such as Singye and Galem. The man narrates his love for the woman by using folktales as a metaphor.

Q. Do you also write your own songs?
A. We have about 13 to 14 original songs, and out of those, I wrote only one song called โ€œNyim chi.โ€

Q. Are there any fond memories of a performance that have helped you grow as an artist?
A. There is one I can think of. It was in 2018, before Covid-19 started. Our band, Oโ€™ strangers, went to Heart-broke Cafe in Pattaya, Thailand, for two months. We had many performances, and it was a great experience and exposure for us as a Bhutanese band. Soon, we got to interact with Indonesian bands, and they were so natural that we could understand how experienced they were from their performances. Through that interaction and experience, I learned so much about classic rock.

Q. Could you explain more about Oโ€™ strangersโ€™ music genre?
A. Our band is into alternative rock. This genre involves distortion, a distortion that blends elements of conventional rock with influences from other musical styles. The unique thing about our band is that during the recordings of our songs, we do one-take live sessions where everything is played at once. Through this approach, we achieve the same quality and texture of music as during live performances. Another benefit of live recording for our band is that itโ€™s easier for us to perform during events and festivities as we become accustomed to it.

Q. How do you feel about collaborations with other bands and singers? Can we look forward to future prospects?
A. We have actually planned to collaborate with some Bhutanese bands, but we have not recorded anything yet. Collaborations tend to blend different genres, and while our band is centered around the alternative rock genre, most Bhutanese artists, including popular ones like Sonam Wangchen and Chogo, are more into pop music. If we fuse these two genres, I think it will be an interesting experiment for the music industry in our country. So, you can look forward to the prospects of Oโ€™ strangers collaborating.


To all the youths in our country who are pursuing careers in the artistic field, I want to say that the music industry in our country is becoming very popular, with more opportunities emerging and even more on the horizon. Keep practicing. Thereโ€™s a saying that practice makes a person perfect, so continue to pursue your passion with a good spirit, and Iโ€™m sure you can rock it.

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