Yohani, a true trendsetter | Sunday Observer

Yohani, a true trendsetter

2 October, 2022

A young lady with a blessed voice, who managed to enchant the whole world with her song ‘Manike Mage Hithe’, making people worldwide fall in love with the Sinhala language; a true trendsetter.

Youth Observer had the pleasure of speaking to Yohani de Silva and this is what she shared about her journey.

Q: Thanks to your song ‘Manike Mage Hithe’, people worldwide spoke our mother tongue. You were a trendsetterYohani. Shall we recall the experience that changes your life in an unexpected way?

A: It was definitely unexpected. Still feels like a dream. It started with a simple Tiktok in my home studio during lockdown. The Tiktok video was getting shared and ChamathSangeeth called and proposed we should do an official cover of it. Chamath and I have worked on projects before and I was comfortable working with him. Satheeshan also joined with the rap verse and we just uploaded that to YouTube. That was all we did. I’m humbled by all the love and support I’ve received and still receiving. My heartiest gratitude and a big shout out to the original artists of the song, Satheeshan and Dulan ARX.

Q: Yohani, you are a young woman who wants to return to Sri Lanka no matter where you travel in the world. Tell me how you became someone who loves your mother country in a totally different generation, where people leave the country. Can you please share about your family too?

A: Nothing compares to home. Sure there are certain aspects that are better in other parts of the world. But Sri Lanka is HOME. I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, but sometimes the careers we choose require us to be away from home due to many reasons. Some being technology, exposure, infrastructure.

But I bet all of us want to come back to Sri Lanka whenever we get a break. My family is Mom, Dad, and my Sister. My sister is a doctor. Mom is a homemaker; she was flying for Sri Lankan and quit her job to raise us, because dad was away in the war. My Dad is a Retired General of Sri Lanka Army and currently the head of Security of a Bank.

Q: Yohani we heard you are a Master’s degree holder in Accounting. So, what made you embark on a journey as a youth singer?

A: When I was reading for my Master’s in Australia, I got the chance to travel around and meet people from different walks of life. I met a lot of independent musicians, entrepreneurs, adventure enthusiasts and many more. I think this influenced my decision a lot.

After the Master’s my option was to settle down in Australia and get PR. But, I didn’t want to settle; rather I wanted to embark on something adventurous. So, I flew back to Sri Lanka to pursue a career in music. At this point my Manager, Dilanjan Seneviratne had launched his own music label and was working with musicians on building their brands and careers, and with his immense support, life was easy.

Q: Regarding the movie ‘Thank God’ and its song ‘Manike’, what kind of experience was it?

A: This was one of the most challenging tasks we had to undertake. The prudent decision making of DilanjanSeneviratne, my Manager, made all the difference in us being able to pave the way to the Film and Music industry in India.

As soon as the song was doing well in India, Dilanjan started talking to management companies and labels in India. He secured the first tour with Zee Live and during this tour we extended the stay so that we can go to Mumbai, where Bollywood happens and meet some labels and management companies there.

During the search for people to work with, we met Sonu Lakhwani: my current manager in India, who was also the former Manager of Jacqueline Fernandez. Although he was clear with the fact that I was already being managed by Dilanjan Seneviratne and that he doesn’t work with other Managers, Sonu still agreed to work with us. I think both of them clicked and all three of us made a great team.

We met T Series with Sonu in September last year and signed the agreement in March this year. Both of them worked really hard and fought many battles during this period. It was impossible to travel back and forth for recordings and meetings, so we moved to Mumbai. This was particularly tough because the processes were not easy and there were so many regulations.

Once we moved, getting the correct pronunciation to match Nora’s appearance on the song was a challenge. The texture and the dynamics of my voice had to completely change during the process of this song. I had a few trainers coaching me with the pronunciation. A big shout out to ChethanaKetagoda, who was one of my trainers from Sri Lanka. Working with Jubin, Tanishk, Rashmi Virag was an amazing experience and I had the opportunity to learn a lot.

Q: Yohani, how does India treat a professional musician? What difference do you see in the Indian and Sri Lankan music industry and its professionals?

A: In my experience, we all make music the same way. There’s not much of a difference in the process. However, the technology and infrastructure in the industry is unparalleled. I think that gives them an edge. But at the end of the day, it’s not about the tools; it’s about what you do with them. Personally, everyone here in India and back home are beautiful people.

Q: Will India own Yohani?

A: There’s no such thing as owning an artist. Nothing can change the fact that I’m an artist from Sri Lanka. Currently I’m based in Mumbai, but I will be releasing music in Sinhalese, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and English. I hope to collaborate with many musicians from different parts of the world.

Q: Yohani, your projects like ‘So Sri Lanka’, ‘Cold Sunday’, ‘Eden’ live concerts, and ‘The Living Room’ series are huge. How was your experience? Tell us more about your team that supports you with these pieces of art.

A: My greatest strength is the team behind me led by the two managers, Dilanjan and Sonu. Eden was the last time I played that repertoire from my tour. We have incorporated new tracks and releases for the upcoming shows.

Q: What are your future plans?

A: I want to explore and collaborate with more musicians from different parts of the world. I also want to come back and do the ‘Kella’ show in Sri Lanka. This was planned to be held in July this year, but unfortunately our country was facing a crisis.

Q: Yohani, what is the best advice you can give to the new generation of artists?

A: Stop listening to opinions and unsolicited advise. It’s not important that you are liked by everyone. It’s important that you like who you are and what you do. And this shouldn’t be influenced by other people.

I thank all my dear fans for all the love and support. I don’t know how I can repay this kindness.