VOLUME UP ON VARSHA!

VOLUME UP ON VARSHA!

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VOLUME UP ON VARSHA!

Fresh off the release of her EP, Adhuro, the model and musician discusses her worldly musical influences.

Fresh off the release of her EP, Adhuro, the model and musician discusses her worldly musical influences.

Photography: Chrisean Rose

Styling: Aryeh Lappin

Text: Gautam Balasundar

Singing in both English and Nepali over a hypnotic mix of Eastern and Western instrumentation, Varsha Thapa’s music isn’t conventional, but her lush vocals draw listeners into her distinctive sound. The burgeoning musician and model leans into her global roots and imbues her music with sounds not often heard in the western pop mainstream.

Though born in Nepal, Thapa spent much of her youth in India, where she went to boarding school. It was there that her love for music formed, singing in choirs and familiarizing herself with the variety of sounds native to both countries. Her interest in music only grew when she moved West. "My love for music, has always been really big. But then it got even bigger when I got introduced to a variety of music from all around the world." Thapa began modeling in New York City, where she got attention for blending traditional Nepalese accessories (the dhagos in her hair have become a signature) with fashion. "I try and do that with Western outfits, and like trying to find something that is relatable to me in my own culture and heritage, because it makes me feel closer to home. You try and bring that bring yourself back to home by adding on these accessories or these things or these pieces of clothing that make you feel like you're not away from home, you're still you. There's still a part of you very much alive."

Despite having expectations of America from movies and TV, the move was somewhat of a culture shock for Thapa. "I feel like people in Nepal or India, or like the East in general, are much warmer. And they have more of a maternal energy. Let me just put it that way. People go out, make money, and bring it home for the family kind of energy. I came here and I realized how much of a paternal energy New York had, because people came here, even from other parts of the United States to make money. There are a lot of people who love just making money to become richer." She noticed how those attitudes affected the arts and culture around her, but there was a sudden shift when she moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn.“There was this whole scene of art and music, and street art. People just being who they are. I lived with a few artists and a photographer and we were all just in collaboration with one another in various ways. And then that’s when I realized this where creatives come and they thrive. And they live off one another’s energy, which was very inspiring to me.”

That inspiration drew her further into music, forming the band Sita Virgin with guitarist Rob Mastrianni in 2018, before releasing music under her own name last year. Her influences are wide-ranging, from tablas and sitars to the psychedelic sounds of the '70s. “I can listen to all genres, all kinds of musicians, and that’s because nothing is good or bad, it’s just art. You just enjoy it, and you have an appetite for it.”  She cites Jim Morrison's poetry and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, as major influences, but also musicians like Elliot Smith, Nirvana, and Lana Del Rey, who could all channel solemn themes regardless of their sound. "I want all of the darkness that has been in my life to kind of come up and be seen in my music, but at the same time, I want it to heal me because that's the very purpose of doing music." She merges all of these influences to convey the breadth of her personality and reflect her true self. “My job is to just say, how can I bring me into the music that I’m making? What we as musicians have to do is bring ourselves, bring our story, bring our heritage and culture, and align it with the place we’re in.

Varsha wears all clothing, jewelry, bag Chanel, hat Eric Javits, tights Wolford
Credits: Makeup Crystal Gossman using Surratt Beauty, Hair Chika Nishiyama, Model Varsha Thapa (The Lions), Nails by Eri Handa using Dior Vernis / Home Agency , Lighting / Digital technician Jim Lafferty, Stylist assistant Sam Knoll,  Photo assistant Omer Kaplan, Location Slate Studios

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