Christmas with Gananath : ‘Don’t sell your style to suit the audience’ | Sunday Observer

Christmas with Gananath : ‘Don’t sell your style to suit the audience’

A musician well known for his unique footprint in the industry, Gananath Disanayaka is here to woo Colombo at Christmas with Gananath presented by the Old Boys’ Union of S. Thomas’ College at the Lionel Wendt Theatre, on Friday December 20.

The event will feature a mix of Christmas songs and some famous hits by Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Neil Diamond and more.

During his formative years at S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia when regular students spent time listening to new school pop, Gananath dwelled on classic Jazz Standards, especially, the music of his idol, Frank Sinatra. Joining the Western Band at St. Thomas’ College, Gananath had already known that it was the Saxophone he was going to dedicate his time and energy on, given his immense love for the wind instrument.

Gananath later fell in love with the more syncopated rhythm and when he was 15 he had his first encounter with the alto Sax in College and developed his skills and refined his talent. Gananath is well known for reconstructing famous Pop music tunes with the essence of Jazz and some pizzazz.

I was able to sit down with the talented and humble artist, taking a closer look into his illustrious life as a musician.

What would you say to young musicians entering the industry?

- My first advice would be to not compromise on your choice or style of music. I think one of the reasons I became slightly known and worked as a musician is because I didn’t budge from my love for Jazz music. I’ve been playing the same genre of music since day one and focusing on specialising in it.

Thus for the past 10 to 12 years I’ve managed to make an impression with a certain group of people, a niche, in Colombo. Don’t sell your style to suit the audience, that is the key factor which helped me carry on.

How did you manage to get yourself in this field and how has the journey been?

- Fortunately, my school gave me the background I needed and I’ve always enjoyed the saxophone since I was three and later on after I left school. The turning point was when I took part in the TNL Onstage at the age of 23 and to my surprise I managed to win it as a soloist. I gained confidence through that as I stuck to my genre and performed two numbers which were pop songs reconstructed into jazz tunes which helped me make an impression. Since then I frequently attended the popular Jazz Unlimited event at CR&FC and was invited to play there, where I met a few other artists with whom I managed to form a band and started performing at gigs. Since then I have had one or more contracts. for the past 10 years. One of the first things I managed to do was a Tribute to Frank Sinatra on his 100th birth anniversary, the first show of which was sold out. I then thought I should organise shows annually and now we try to have them whenever we liked. At present, we play at the Hilton every Thursday night and it is one gig I look forward to every week. That has been my journey, which has been fun and satisfying.

In your opinion, can artistes pursue a career in music in Sri Lanka?

- There is definitely a fear whether this path would be sustainable financially. It depends on what stage of life one is in. Some people have many responsibilities while some do not, in which case go ahead and focus on yourself without the worry of publicising or advertising your skill. The goal should be to practice and perfect your talent.

I practice my voice daily even while driving and the returns are incredible. It could be either your instrument or your voice, always practice.

When on stage, prepare yourself well because the audience understand the difference between preparation and the lack thereof. It makes the performance more personal. All these count in pursuing a career.

How can the music industry improve in Sri Lanka?

- Music too is another profession just like any other, in the country. If you take the so called successful professions there is a streamline. One is education. For example, in the legal or medical profession, you have to be qualified to practice. However, music or drama in this country has not reached that stage yet. Setting up music schools or schools that help you to be qualified would be of assistance.

I know one such place, Music Matters, which definitively sets a good standard. There is a big difference in learning the fundamentals and being self-taught. The education aspect can help you identify all the weapons in your armoury and to use them well, whereas being only self-taught might keep you out from reaching your full potential.

Therefore, having good schools and teachers can help. Fortunately, we have many opportunities online at present.

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