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INTERVIEW: Dikyi Ukyab

Dikyi Ukyab is a twenty-four year old Tibetan-Nepali based in New York, US. She has her own music album out and she sings cover music as well. She has a very unique passion and talent of hula hooping. Dikyi and her friend, Sangye Dolker, started the Khushi Project to help children in Nepal, affected by the recent traumatising earthquake. 

Tenzin Woesel: Hello, I am Tenzin Woesel. I have started a project to interview young talented Tibetans around the globe to make people of the world aware that Tibet is an independent nation and has its own celebrities just like the other nations. With this project, I also intend to appreciate and encourage young Tibetan women like you who are talented and are pursuing your passion to go further. I found you on Instagram and I checked your blog, your YouTube channel and your SoundCloud account. I love your voice and your big heart in helping the children of Nepal through the Khushi Project. Thank you for accepting my request to have an interview on Skype. 
Dikyi Ukyab: What a pleasure to hear from you. I’m so glad you like our work with the Khushi Project. I love that you’re trying to raise awareness for Tibet. Great work! Thanks for reaching out. 

TW: What do you do currently?
DU: I graduated from SUNY Purchase with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and I’m currently doing my Masters in Public Relations from New York University. I make music and do cover music as well. 

TW: What is music for you and since when did you get involved in music?
DU: Music has always been a form of expression for me. It’s a way for me to connect with others and myself. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. 

TW: Who’s your inspiration in life?
DU: Personally, my parents have been my inspiration. They work so hard and it inspires me to worker harder. As far as music is concerned, Lady Gaga and Adele have been my inspirations. I really admire the message Lady Gaga gives through her music- spreading positivity and encouragement. I want to be an artist like her. As for Adele, I think we share a lot of similarities in our sound and I love her music as well.

TW: How old were you when you had your debut album ‘Silver Lining’ out and how do you feel about it?
DU: I was twenty years old when I released my debut album ‘Silver Lining’ although I started recording the tracks much earlier. Having a music album out at a young age has been one of my greatest achievements.

TW: Share something about your EP, ‘Memories’.
DU: Memories is a project I was working on. It has three songs. It paints a story about different moments in my life that I feel everyone can connect to. 

TW: You sing cover music too, right? Which song do you think is the best one you have covered so far.
DU: I’m pretty busy with grad school, so when I’m not working on my own music I do some cover music for fun. I’m working on a cover of Drake’s Hotline Bling at the moment. My favourite cover I’ve done is a mash up of ‘Take Me Home’ by Cash Cash and Naughty Boy’s ‘La La La’.

TW: Where do you do the recordings and what music genre are most of your songs?
DU: I did all the recordings of my debut album in Nepal but I recorded the EP at my friend’s house. I record the covers at home. Regarding the genre, almost all of the Nepali songs in my album are folk pop but the second album I am working on currently, is of diverse genre.

TW: Do you write your own songs?
DU: Yes, I do! I started writing lyrics at a young age. The Nepali songs from my debut album, Silver Lining, were written by Durga Lal Shrestha and composed by Nhyoo Bajracharya. The two English songs on the album were written and composed by me. I’m hoping to venture into writing some music in Nepali as well some day as I improve my Nepali.

TW: From all the music you have made till now, which one is your favourite?
DU: My favourite is never constant. It keeps on changing and as for now it is ‘Nothing to Lose’- a song from my EP, ‘Memories’.

TW: How many music videos have you released till date?
DU: I have four music videos out, two from my debut album and the other two from the album I am currently working on. 

TW: Tell me something about the ‘An Evening with Dikyi Ukyab’ concert you held at Army Club in Kathmandu, Nepal and how was your experience?
DU: I have been a part of a few concerts but ‘An evening with Dikyi Ukyab’ was my first solo-concert. I performed fifteen songs for three hours and had other singers like Nima Rumba, Ciney Gurung, and Yogeshwor Amatya performing in between. I did a Tibetan song, one or two English and the rest were Nepali songs. It was a great experience and a proud moment, holding a concert of my own.

TW: Besides the solo concert, have you done any performances?
DU: Yes, I have performed at various events like SFT’s, Chatpati Mela 2014 and so many others. I have also performed at the Rubin Museum of Art during the Chelsea Block Party last summer. The most recent event I performed at, was the Walung Kyidug fundraising show. 

TW: According to your preference, rate English, Tibetan, Hindi and Nepali music.
DU: Although I love music in all languages, I’m most comfortable with English since I was born and brought up here in America. I love Nepalese and Tibetan music as well. 

TW: Please share with us, the acknowledgments you got for your music.
DU: Making music in Nepal has been quite a rewarding journey. In just a short span of time I’ve been welcomed by so many. My first single Jaun topped the charts as #1 on a few stations and my music video for Ke Bhaye Ko topped at #1 on Image Channel’s Top of the Pops. I was nominated as “Best New Artiste of the Year” at the 13th Annual Tuborg Image Award (2012) and touted as the ‘The Next Big Thing’ by Navyaata magazine. I was also nominated for Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Best Pop Rock Album of the Year at the 16th Annual Hits FM Awards (2013). Most recently, I was nominated for Best Vocal Collaboration at the 2015 Hits Fm Awards for “Maile Diyeko Phool” a duet from my upcoming second album.

TW: What shall we expect from you in the coming months?
DU: I’m working on a cover of Drake’s Hotline Bling and I am sharing it soon. I am also redoing the song ‘Nothing To Lose’ from my EP ‘Memories’. Apart from those, I am currently working on my second album. So, you will be hearing a lot of new music soon. 

TW: You have an extraordinary passion and talent of hula hooping . Since when did you start doing this and what inspired you to hula hoop?
DU: I started doing this since last December so it has almost been a year now. I have seen a lot of students hula hooping around me during my undergraduate, but I never got into it. A friend of mine started doing it recently and I finally got it. So I brought one when I visited Nepal last winter and since then, I have been in love with it. I have always been interested in activities like making music, dancing and all kinds of artistic self-expression.  I found that same passion in hula hooping.

TW: You run the Khushi Project and help the children of Nepal. What inspired you to start the project?
DU: My friend Sangye Dolker and I started the Khushi Project after the Nepal earthquake. When we first heard about it, we were shattered. We really wanted to do something that would help the affected people. Since both Sangye and I have worked with children before and are interested in music and dance, we decided to bring back smiles on children’s faces through music and movement.

TW: What are the achievements of the Khushi Project?
DU: Well, Khushi Project is a fundraiser we started to bring music and movement therapy to kids affected by the recent earthquake in Nepal. We raised over $10,000 with the help of our donors, Himalayan Yak restaurant, and our event “Karaoke for Khushi”. Karaoke for Khushi was a night of food and singing at Himalayan Yak, a Tibetan restaurant and cultural hub here in New York. A lot of people joined us that evening and supported. With our funds, we visited different schools in the earthquake affected areas in Nepal, like Gorkha (the epicentre of the earthquake), Sindupalchowk ( the place with the highest death toll) and Jampaling, one of the Tibetan settlements in Nepal, among many others. Along with other friends from New York and Nepal, we made hula hoops and distributed them to the children. We taught them how to hula hoop and sang songs with them too. It was so refreshing to see smiles back on children’s faces and we look forward for more opportunities like this to help them.

TW: Aren’t you proud of yourself? You have achieved a lot at such a young age! I’m so impressed. Keep amazing us with your melodious music. Good luck for the forthcoming album and your life ahead. Thank you for making time for this interview. Stay beautiful. 
DU: Thanks! I’m definitely blessed to receive so much love and support from my fans and the people around me. They’ve been the reason I’ve had a chance to share my music and art. I’ve still got a really long way to go and I hope to do so much more in the future. So I really want to thank my fans and ask others to join me on my journey and stay connected. I hope I can make music one day that can truly touch people and transform minds. Thanks Woesel, again, for helping me tell my story. It’s been a pleasure!


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