Stirring emotions with melodies | Daily News


Stirring emotions with melodies

Hirushi Jayasena  Pictures by Vipula Amarasinghe
Hirushi Jayasena Pictures by Vipula Amarasinghe

Hirushi Jayasena is causing a bit of stir in the local music scene with her refreshingly contemplative vocal stance. The roll out of her latest single “Hanguman” in January 2018 has shot her to sudden fame. The song was released on Redfox Record Label, composed by Pasan Liyanage, written by Malini Liyanage and videoed by Thala Rupa.

The past student of Visakha Vidyalaya Colombo, Hiruni seems to know when she wakes up, it’s time to get up and be productive. On the flip side she is inclined to be lazy and seems to value the social aspect of being able to pounce at U-turns on her road to prove otherwise.

Nostalgic as she is, Hirushi loves to counteract her feelings of loneliness with her family, friends, and memories of sight, smell (her Cat included) and laughter at home and at school, and with her music.Her father, a script-song writer, former La Rusinans’ vocalist, SLBC-grade singer and Gastro Intestinal Surgeon Dr Ranil Jayasena stands to bolsters her emerging singing career. So does her mother, Madhani Jayasena, SLBC grade singer of fame.

The science of genetics has brought to light that substantial influence of parental genes is on the continuity of children’s abilities and traits. In a sense, Hirushi is a case of dominant inheritance of DNA from her mother in no simple distinguished looks. For all that, she seems to carry her father’s vibe, how interesting!

Born in UK, Sri Lankan by nationality, past student of Vishakha Vidyalaya, TV presenter, Indian classical dancer, singer and poet, Hirushi has quite a work profile as a singer for a pre-Bachelor in Biological Sciences in the pre-medical field at the University of Central Florida, United States. She is also pursuing a minor in psychology there.

She is in her home turf now, doing what she likes the best, singing and playing the piano. But do not be distracted. She seems to be preparing to tackle a bigger project to take her singing career to the next level. Versatile Hirushi can sing any genre of music-pop, rock, classical, R and B or any other form, as we all have experienced. The multilingual singer is also a playback singer. She had delivered her vocals for film Maya, and tele-drama Sarana Samanalee. She sang an original Hindi duet with Shan Mukherji and a Kannada duet with Shreekar. The artiste’s English original “No temptation” made it big on Youtube. Her Sinhala tracks Mal Mal Wasnathe and Susudu Reli have retained spirit and class.

Hirushi’s raw passion for singing is clear. The natural entertainer has chosen music as her stomping ground. We met her at Trillium Residencies in Narahepita. The soft-spoken smiling artiste settled upright on the couch relaxed and curious; her eyes sparkled with a riot of lime and olive, ready to take the questions.

I asked her how she became interested in music.

Hirushi: When I was growing as a kid my parents were really inclined towards music even before I was born. They had a partnership of singing together, going to musical shows together. Every day when I wake up I hear music. Everyday there’s a CD playing in the morning. I hear Latha Mangeshkar or Mohommad Rafi or any other oriental artiste singing. I think I was trying to like them and loved to improvise on these tunes.

Of those tunes you heard what are the ones that you find most enchanting or irresistible?

Hirushi: Oh, I remember, Lag Ja Gale by Latha Mangeshkar. Also I was initially born in Western England. My father was doing his Masters in surgery there. Because of that I think my mom loves singing Madonna and Abba. I love those empowered super form of energetic female identity in their singing. I felt like I also wanted to make an impact someday.

It’s on both sides, oriental and Western. I had a hybrid experience listening to all kinds of music.

How do you define your place in music in terms of being a singer and a player of musical instruments?

I am mainly a singer. I guess I’ve been singing from the age of six. I am also a pianist and a violinist. I’ve been s London School candidate ever since I was growing up. When I was in school, I was a candidate for Trinity College of London in piano and violin.

But actually to develop my style as a musician, I think it began when I started going to University because that’s the first time I was away from Sri Lanka. I was in the States away from home, and I had this chance to embrace my independence and explore myself, to find who I am and what my personality is. I was 17.

I watched many live concerts when I was in the States. Despite all the facilities and resources we had in the States, I was compelled… like I was determined to come back to Sri Lanka because methinks, we can cater so much to our industry. So that’s when I kind of worked on my own style.

How do you plan to promote your brand of music in the background of some genres that are already getting mixed up there in the form of electronic music or EDM or urban pop or alt-rock for that matter in the local industry?

I think I mainly focus on fusion because I think in order for the evolution of music to happen, there has to be some unique combinations. That is how they get evolved. Even us human species get evolved by new genes. Just like that, certain blue prints, certain genres, we hybridize to make new music. So for me I think, free style, contemporary, with a little bit of light touch, light music combined with a little bit of a climactic base, make music.

I like to do more fusion, instead of progressing with something that already exists. I want o construct my own legacy. But to do that definitely the past inspirations stands by, including W.D Amaradeva and Victor Ratnayaka. There are invaluable things you can take from these amazing musicians.

What style I ‘m promoting, well it is a hybrid of a lot of things.

Is it going to sound more akin to oriental or Western?

I wish I had everything planned, but my plan is to not plan. Being spontaneous is something beautiful considering just having that spark, you know. For the time being, yes, I worked on South Indian and North Indian projects. But my Sri Lankan music has a Western touch. Our industry is at a peak with so many emerging artistes making different kinds of music. And I managed to have something quite different to what’s trending.

It’s for me, it depends on so many things such as the producer, what kind of lyrics is involved, who I am featuring it with, and so on. Depending on all these factors I could finalize on what kind of a style I want to go with. I think that compatibility is also important.

Who are the artistes, you kind of like and admire in the current context of trending music?

I think anyone who has a rich idea behind their creation, I would say, those are the kind of players I like. Sometimes it could be the most silliest song, and it could sound really funny, and initially it could have some sort of another impression but the philosophy behind it,. Some people actually address a deeper core social issue. It could be something about the domestic life or political sarcasm. However, if someone is rich in their idea, those kinds of artistes, I really admire. But it is really hard to actually mention names and who exactly they are, but there are so many.

When it comes to your delivery of vocals, is there a regular voice practice routine you follow to keep up your voice? Are you relying on Eastern voice training methods or is it Western?

I actually go on a mix because for me it’s like If I had a difficulty in maneuvering certain techniques for Eastern from Western. If I do Western all the time there are certain variations I cannot reach in oriental style. So in the morning what I do is I go with a mixed playlist of all kinds of music consisting of you know…it would be a Shreya Ghoshal’s collection of Hindi songs with contemporary English songs. So it would be mix.

Aside from that, I don’t really stick to a regular voice training routine, it is shocking, but it is like I have never done voice training in my life. I haven’t like I haven’t. I survived in the choir at school for 48 hours.

What were you doing in the US?

I was doing my degree in medical studies and psychology. I initially wanted to pursue a serious career in sciences. But once I went there and I understood the reality of what’s in store there for me and I’ve seen the beauty of nurturing my talents. So I thought of returning back and kind of going into a gap-year so as to experiment on my talents. But however I am hoping to continue my studies in medical science and psychology.

 How could your studies be of any help for the furtherance of your music?

That actually is a good question. The psychology of anything is the thinking pattern- everything that starts with a thought, anything that is externally created is the result of inward thinking. So for me by understanding people and by understanding humanity it helps me make art. Making music or making art is about addressing something, consoling someone who is in pain, or helping someone see the silver lining. Besides pharmaceuticals and medicine there is another way of healing, you know making music and giving that kind of therapy. So understanding the humanity in that has reinforced me to make music.

Are there any international female vocalists or stars that have got stuck in your head?

One is Whitney Houston, definitely, despite her so many imperfections about her personal life, she had a professional career that was just mind-blowing. Her range, and her energy, she just gave 200 percent. At every performance, she is full of spirit. You can see it in her eyes and her femininity is so inspiring.

I can put Celine Dion, Beyonce and LP (born Laura Pergolizzi) in that list too. LP has Italian origins, Oh; she does not fall into the conventional category of female singers. I like her too.

How about top female artistes you admire in Sri Lanka right now?

I think pretty much all the female artistes – they have certain songs that I like. It’s really hard to pick one person in particular. Why almost all the female artistes currently in the industry they have at least one song that I like.

Any plans to go live with your singing with a well arranged concert or two perhaps, may be at Nelum Pokuna or somewhere?

Directly connecting with the people is the prime way to go about music. It actually gives soul to music. I am hoping to do that definitely. I have been performing live ever since I was a kid because my father is a lyricist. He has done so many compilations for so many artistes in Sri Lanka. So we had shows three or four times in Sri Lanka, in 2004 and 2012, I remember. We have done live performances. That’s the kind of legacy I am hoping to continue.

I just am picky about what kinds of shows that I should go into. There are some shows which have commercial motives , and some other shows which people go to because they really care about the essence of music in the industry.

Contrary wise, being picky could bring down the tendency of reaching out to people, but unfortunately that’s how I want to balance down as well.

But definitely people can expect me on stage.

Are you planning on releasing an album?

Not essentially. I will keep doing what I am doing.

One day when I have enough to make an album, I will create that milestone.

But I am not doing music to make an album, but an album will be in it at some point.

Don’t you want to become a part or be among the cluster of those trending singers or groups?

I am not really, I don’t want to. More than really being a part of anything, I just want to be just myself. But I like to working with like-minded artistes, the artistes whose ideas goes along or are in parallel with mine.

So for the time being I work with Pasan Liyanage for Redfox because I think we have similar kinds of ideas.

But as an artiste there are things I like to do on my own. But I like the acquaintance, warmth and the relationship with everyone.

When it comes to adopting a style, giving people who I am and what my identity, I like to do it by myself.

What is going to be your approach when it comes to your fans?

For me, more than it being an amount it’s about the quality. Even if it’s person who tells me that my music has changed their life, well that’s just about right. 

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