|Sunday, 18 December 2005|
Originality his forte
by Chamitha Kuruppu
During a newspaper interview, veteran vocalist late Malini Bulathsinhala was once asked the most memorable day in her life. "The day Maestro Kemadasa hugged and wished my son Kasun Kalahara, following his first musical concert," was her answer. " That warm hug from Master Kemadasa guaranteed that Kasun had a genuine talent and a clear future," she had told the newspaper.
Just like she believed, young Kasun Kalhara Jayawardena has done proud to Malini Bulathsinghala and her husband veteran musician H.M. Jayawardena. But this twenty something aspiring musician attributes his success to hard work and commitment. " I must have been influenced by my parents, but what I have achieved is through my own talent and dedication," shot back Kasun in an interview with Sunday Observer Arts.
Kasun was one of the 'very few' artists who inquired the importance of carrying an interview with him in a newspaper. "Do you think your readers will benefit from this?" was his first reaction when we contacted him. It was surprising to see a young budding musician being so reluctant to see a page full of his details in a national newspaper. "I feel humiliated when they ask me silly questions. I would never let my fans see me as a clown," stresses Kasun.
A career officially started with a musical concert held somewhere in year 2000, with his colleague Indrachapa Liyanage, Kasun soon became a trendsetter in Sri Lankan music scene. During a time when Sri Lankan youth would dare to experiment or introduce new avenues in the field of music, Kasun and Indrachapa - who were mere school leavers, were brave enough to take the initiatives. Haritha Nimnaye, their first song made the duo popular, introducing a new era of music.
The popularity he gained from the first CD did not push this young musician to do any immediate new productions. His second album Radical Premaya released several years later introduced a 'totally different Kasun' to the music industry.
The CD, which he calls as an experiment, consisted 'songs with feelings'. According to Kasun, though the songs were not '100 per cent' successful, Radical Premaya has quenched his thirst to introduce novel creations to the industry. Now preparing for his third album, to be released early next year - Kasun feels it will be another unique experience for his listeners.
"I don't believe in targeting several audiences (in different kinds of age groups with diverse taste levels) through one set of songs," says Kasun. "By doing this, artists don't do justice to any audience.
Therefore, my next album will be catered to one set of audience with the same taste," he points out. Queried whether his new concept will be commercially successful, Kasun shot back saying that more than the financial aspect, he believes in carrying out quality work.
"This is why I don't sing at clubs, parties, open-air shows and weddings," stresses Kasun. "People don't come to these places to enjoy music. They just come to enjoy the food and the atmosphere," he adds. " I don't sing or compose music for teledramas. All these mean fame and money. But giving more quality work to my listeners is more important to me than money and popularity," he points out.
Kasun believes the Sri Lankan music industry depends on the income levels of people. According to Kasun, there are upper-class listeners who can afford to go for music concerts by Amaradeva or Victor Rathnayake. There are listeners from the lower class who are compelled to listen to the same set of songs by the 'so called musicians' made by production houses. "I believe our listeners belong to the middle class, who want to break away from both these set ups and are constantly on the look out for experiments," he points out.
Kasun's policies might make him unpopular among others, but when it comes to music, he has always been in the hearts of people in every walk of life. "When I do a song, I pay attention to every single detail. From the words to sounds, recording technology and many more details," notes Kasun.
This could be the reason behind the ability of his every song to touch the listeners deep down in their hearts. Kasun's songs will guarantee a true feeling of tranquillity. His deep hypnotising voice will fit any range from classical music to hip hop and from solo to harmonising.
With a passion to play the piano and the guitar, Kasun believes most of his compositions are inspired by these two instruments. Aron Nevil and Scorpions are Kasun's most adored musicians from the international music scene. " I find Chithral Somapala as the most wonderful musician in Sri Lanka.
He has a rare and amazing voice," feels Kasun.
He calls himself a movie addict and says most of his free days are spent watching 'good classical movies'. He enjoys theatre and also looks forward to work in such productions in future. Kasun is married to Nadee Kammalweera, an aspiring actress mainly theatre and Cinema who recently clinched the prestigious Bunka Award.
A proud product of Ananda College, Colombo Kasun has been an inspiring music teacher for hundreds of students. Kasun is now drawing plans to commence voice training classes for music lovers with an ability to sing. "I want to make it a six month session. There will be no hard rules to take part in the training. Anybody who wishes to participate will be taken after a basic test," explains Kasun.
Although he represents youth, Kasun has worked hard to establish himself among the reputed musicians in the country. "There should be creativity, but the damage caused to Sri Lankan music by these emerging bands should be stopped," Kasun emphasises.
"If somebody believes mixing Sinhala words with Indian soundtracks is creativity, then they are mistaken. The truth is, listeners cannot be cheated forever, people who are unable to come up with their own creations will not last long. And they should not be called musicians," stresses Kasun adding that establishing an identity through their own creations is vital for anybody with the hope to enter and survive in the music scene.
Produced by Lake House