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Shashika Nisansala/ Sri Lanka

Shashika Nisansala/ Sri Lanka

What do you feel about the new trends in music, especially about using new music for old songs?

Actually long forgotten songs can be resurrected by setting it to modern music. It doesn’t matter if you do not distort the song.

There is a lot of discussion about rap music. What do you feel about rap and reggae?

I think there should be these different styles. But we must use them appropriately.

We talk about our folk music. Is there our own folk music of international standard? Can we achieve it?

I think folk music occupies an important place in this country. I feel that if it is taken to an international audience it will be accepted.

If you look at the techniques around the world, which one would you prefer?

I like Indian Ragadari music the most. I also like Gazal music.

Do you feel that you should change your style?

I have not decided yet. I like to sing different types of songs which could involve different techniques.

Now there is a new trend in performance. What is your opinion about it?

I think it is good to present it in that way. I do not move much on stage. But there are some who shout and dance on stage. Some like it and some like my style.

It is said that a song is different when you listen to it at a concert to if you listen to a cassette. There is a heavier beat at a concert. Do you think it will adversely affect your song?

When you sing on stage you have to go along with the band. Sometimes they increase the beat and change it. May be because some of the audience likes to dance. It is good if it can be presented in the same way as a recording.

Why can’t it be presented in the same way?

There are many who dance near the stage. May be it is to give them an opportunity.

What are the problems your generation in this field will face in the future?

The problem I had to face was that we who live in the village have to come to Colombo for a recording. Sometimes there are economic problems. You need a lot of money even to record one song. Even if you are talented, if you are not rich you cannot do it. That is why programs like ‘Thurunu Shakthi’ give an opportunity to be recognized because Rupavahini airs it live. You can reach many people. No one is wiling to help. I think the economic problem is the main barrier.

Do you wish to pursue this career in the future or do you have any other plans?

I have not yet completed my education. If I find a job to suit my qualifications I will do it. I have not decided whether I am going to sing as a career. It will all depend on whether I will find a suitable job.

To whom does the song belong? To the lyricist, music composer or the singer?

No one is sure about it. I cannot comment on it for certain. But a good song needs all of their contribution. People must like the lyrics, the tune, the music and the voice. So I think all four have a claim. But the song goes under the name of the singer.

If you compare the songs you enjoyed as a child and now do you think we have made any progress?

It is difficult to say. When we were young, technology was not advanced. I think advanced modern technology has taken the place of creativity. That is sad.

What kind of assistance do you get from the professionals in the field?

I get a lot of appreciation and encouragement from them. I must especially remember Ms Deepika. She has helped me a lot in life. She has given me a lot of advice on how to do things and what kind of songs to compose. Some of course had criticized my song ‘Tholpethi’ (lips) I think it is their ignorance. It is one of the best songs written by Mr. Ratna Sri Wijesinghe. He thought it was a success. It has a very deep meaning. It does not convey anything bad. There are worse thing written in literature. It has depth. Some only look at the superficial meaning.

Now technology has developed to such an extent that your voice and music can be recorded separately and mixed later. How will you use this in your life?

Now it is very different to the past. You can get the tracks separately and then put in the voice. Those days it was done together. It is very advantageous to us in terms of time and money. I of course never record a song in parts. I sing it right through but if there are defective areas then I fill it up. Technology is good but we must develop our talents.

When do you hope to release your next cassette? Who has done the lyrics and music for that?

I think I can release it by February 2003. Some of the lyricists are not so famous. Other than that I have Rohana Werasinghe, H.M.Jayawardena, Navaratne Gamage, Tissa Perera, Stanley Peiris, Karunaratne Wijewardena and Shantha Jayalath Tissera. Some of them have not written songs for me before. Then there are people like Ratna Sri Wijesinghe and Chandana Jayalath. I have also collected some from Sunil Ariyaratne, Sunil R. Gamage and my teacher Upul Shantah Sannasgala.

Why did you take so long to release your second cassette?

I think you should release a cassette and give time for the fans to appreciate it. Only about three of my songs have become popular. There are many more in the cassette so the fans must listen to them. Also my studies have stood in the way. I do not want to be in a hurry either. I like to choose my songs.

Finally, what are your plans for the future?

I am studying music in the university. I like to study the theory of music as well as in practice and serve the country. I like to be a teacher. I also like to do some creative compositions.

Can you tell us something about your family?

I was born in Deraniyagala. In actual fact it is further than Deraniyagala. It is a rural village called Udapola. But now I reside in Avisawella. I came here when I was about 10 years old for my education.

What did your parents do for career? What about your siblings?

My father is U.P.Jayasinghe. He is a technical officer at the District Engineer’s Office in Homagama. My mother is a housewife. My younger brother is still in school. He is studying for his Advanced Level examination. His name is Udara Samanpriya Pathirana.

Where did you study?

I have studied at 4 schools. I was first at Udapola Junior School where I studied up to grade 3. When I was grade 4, I came to the New Junior School in Avisawella where did my scholarship examination. After I passed my scholarship I went to Dharmapala College in Eheliyagoda where I studied up to my Ordinary Level examination. I did my Advanced Level at Anula Vidyalaya in Nugegoda.

Who were the singers you admired as a child?

There were many. One of them was my teacher, Deepika Priyadharshini Peiris. I liked her songs very much. After I began singing I sang her songs and also those of Nirosha Virajini, Sujatha Attanayake, Nanda Malini and a couple of others. I liked their songs.

Is there a particular style you liked from the beginning?

No there was none in particular. Sujatha Attanayake and Deepika Priyadarshini had two different styles. I liked them both. I also liked the style of Nanda Malini. I liked many different styles.

What are the opportunities you had in school to get involved in singing?

I got really interested in singing at Eheliyagoda Madya Maha Vidyalaya. I took part in many all island competitions where I gained a lot of experience.

Can you remember the first day you sang before an audience? What was the song you sang?

I can’t remember the first one. From the time I was the Montessori, I used to sing on stage. I remember singing on stage when I was very small.

Did your family influence you?

Everyone in my father’s family is musical. I think that influenced my brother and me. It was my father who encouraged me a lot to pursue this career.

Did you learn to play any musical instruments when you were young?

I first played the organ and thereafter the violin. In addition I can play the other instruments moderately.

Who were the teachers who taught you music?

Other than the school, I had private classes with Visharada Ananda Rajapakse. I studied for the Indian exams up to the first part of the Visharada and then I studied under Deepika Priyadarshini. I studied the Indian Raga for my Advanced Level exam. I also learnt under visharada Nihal. Now I am studying at the Kelaniya University.

Are you studying singing or music?

Mainly singing but I am also learning the violin.

The fans in this country got to know you through the ‘Thurunu Shakthi’ program. How did you join it?

Then I was in the Advanced Level class. I used to travel to school by school bus to Anula Vidyalaya. There was a boy called Lakmal who lived close to our house and studied at Isipathana College. He is the one who first told me about this competition. Then we all got together and sent an application.

Did you want to be a singer when you were small?

I was interested in it since I was small. I used to sing even in the Montessori. My father is the one who taught me. My father wanted me to become a talented singer. That is why he taught me the subject. I of course did not take it too seriously. I did not think I was going to be a good singer. I think you must also be lucky. But my father’s dream has come true.

Do you watch movies? What is the film you like most and your favorite actor or actress?

I haven’t been able to see one recently because of my studies. But I liked ‘Saroja’. There are many actors and actresses I like, especially Yasoda Wimaladharma and Sangeetha Weeraratne. There are also a few actors I like. It doesn’t matter whether they are famous or not.

What is the film you like most and your favorite actor or actress?

I haven’t been able to see one recently because of my studies. But I liked ‘Saroja’. There are many actors and actresses I like, especially Yasoda Wimaladharma and Sangeetha Weeraratne. There are also a few actors I like. It doesn’t matter whether they are famous or not.

If you want a holiday where in Sri Lanka would you go?

I do not have much free time with my studies. I like to go to my village in Deraniyagala or to Nuwara Eliya. I like a cool climate.

If you have to go abroad, what will be you choice of a destination?

I like to go to New Zealand.

What are the kind of books you read?

I read anything related to my studied. I read about Greek architecture. I like books on architecture.

Don’t you like dancing? Do you hope to study it?

I think I will be good at it but I have no time to study it. I have taken part in dances at concerts in the university.

About how many songs have you sung so far?

I can’t say exactly. May be about 25 songs.

How many cassettes have you released?

Only one so far called ‘Paramitha’. There are 14 songs in it. I have 16 on my CD. I have completed about 8 for the next one but I have not completed it.

Who has written most of the lyrics for your songs?

Mr. Ratna Sri Wijesinghe, Lalith Wasantha, Channa Jayanath, Rev. Rambukkana Sidhartha and Yamuna Malini Perera.

Who has done the music?

Mr. Rohana Werasinghe, Mr. Jayasiri Amarasekera, Mr. Navaratne Gamage, Mr. H.M.Jayawardena and Mr. Stanley Peiris.

What kind of song do you like to sing? Do you like if it is based o your idea or sing to the composed lyrics or do you like to compose your own tune?

I am not particular. I don’t mind it either way. Sometimes the lyrics have been written after the music was composed or vise versa. There are song songs I wrote specially for the above cassette. I like most of them.

What is your opinion about your generation?

I feel that my generation as well as the next generation have faired well at competitions. I wish there was someone to help them. I feel we are very talented.

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