Soulful Mihindu | Sunday Observer

Soulful Mihindu

Q: How did you start your music career?

I have been singing since I was little and I have been in the music field from 2007. I got into music after O/L’s. I did my A/L’s in the Maths stream and got selected to Colombo University to study Industrial Statistics and Financial Mathematics. But I joined the band, Nemesis for which I auditioned soon after A/L’s. Then, we won 2008 TNL on stage. We did the song, Chakithaya in 2008. That was my official breakthrough song for the Sinhala audience. Till 2015, I was working full time and was doing music part time and worked with several other bands. Then I joined Wayo in 2015 and quit my job.

Q: Why did you want to be a full time singer?

My passion is music. So yes, it’s a full time thing. I wanted to actually wait till I get a stable income through music. So, my breakthrough was Wayo. I did not want to join just a band. I wanted to join a band which shares the same taste in music. I had told this to Kaushan Wijesuriya and that was in 2014. Then I was asked to join Wayo in 2015, I knew my life would change and it did. For me it was like a dream come true. I liked and respected their work since their inception. That is when I quit the job and joined Wayo.

Q: A lot of people think you came out of nowhere and then got famous overnight. Why do you think they think this?

The problem was my first song was with Nemesis, Chakithaya which got really famous especially when people started it in Reality Shows. Three years after this I did another song called, Mrs. Perera. It was a reggae song and quite different to the songs I had done by that time. And then in 2015 I did my first individual song, Yana Thanaka which was my milestone hit. And from that people got to know me as Mihindu Ariyaratne. I think it was hard for the people to recognize that it is the same guy who sang Chakithaya, Mrs. Perera and then Yana Thanaka. For a while, they found it a bit difficult to connect the dots.

Q: What are your thoughts on the current status of the music industry? Do you find the recent changes as positive with new talent coming in?

I think the music industry is now in a better position than it was two, three years back. Back then it was very monotonous. There were ringing tone markets and mafias by media people when it comes to promoting the artiste. Less support was given to artistes. Now it is in a better place with involvement of the social media. Through YouTube, Facebook and other social media platforms, the artistes get chances to promote their work. And there are musicians who can actually do a full media campaign through social media. I did that. Because of that the media is now more supportive. Especially the ones who were not supportive enough earlier and now they have to come after artistes. But it should also be mentioned that there are a lot of media channels which supported us throughout.

Q: How do you create music?

Do you create it according to your liking or what the audience wants?

It is definitely what I like, hands down. My music is basically what I enjoy. First of all it should be something I feel. Even if someone composes or writes for me, I have to feel it. I have to connect with the song. Then the next thing is it has to be politically correct. I do not do controversial stuff. So I try to be as politically correct as possible. And then after those only I think of the selling aspect. For example, if the chorus is not catchy enough then maybe I will make it catchier or more likeable. But it does not happen the other way around. I do not think what people would like and create music.

Q:  How do you interact with your fans?

Most of the time I interact with them at my concerts and then on social media too. They come to see me before the show, after the show. But it is not like a star-fan interaction. It is more like friends meeting friends. Some people like to meet during sound checks because that is where all the technical details happen. Especially upcoming musicians like to do this. They want to know how we build up towards our performance. In that way the younger generation is quite eager for knowledge and they have it at their fingertips with internet and stuff like that. They talk to me on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. We meet like that.

Q: What kind of criticisms have you faced? How would you describe that experience?

I have been journeying through different genres of music. Say electronic music, semi trendy stuff and much more. Rock music fans since Nemesis time they kind of criticise me for doing reggae music, or Yana Thanaka. Because they feel I belong to rock music and I should not do other kinds of music. They think I am better off as a rock musician. There are people who want me to do more songs like Yana Thanaka. Those are all constructive criticisms. I get comments like “we like this song but this is not you,” when I have not done the kind of music they expect me to always do. Each and every song has its own fan base. So, when you think, it is not actually criticisms but what they like.

Q: How has it been after becoming a solo artiste? Especially after quitting Wayo?

When I joined Wayo people from different backgrounds came together and we shared a lot of ideas. After joining them, I got exposed to a new, different kind of world. Wayo caters to all kinds of fans. So it was quite a good experience. Musically I learnt a lot of technical things and different genres other than rock music which I was pretty familiar with. It was a great journey. I will certainly miss being part of a super band. But I did it to start a new journey as a solo artiste and that too is a great experience. I get to perform with different bands from all over the country. Each and every band have their own sound. When it blends with my music I find it quite delightful.

Q: Any plans to release an album?

Yes, I will be releasing an album very soon. Around 10 tracks. I am planning to go abroad next year for my musical education. So, before that I thought of giving something to my audience so they have memories to hold on to. Therefore, I will be doing a few concerts too.