Come 9 September, Elevate together with The Voice by Ishan De Lanerolle are geared to present Vithma Kumarage and Eksath De Alwis, featuring guest artiste, Tharushi Mendis.
The Voice pioneered by Ishan De Lanerolle is a unique concept, which started around two years ago; students mostly averaging between the ages of 13 to 30 spend time pursuing and polishing their singing abilities with the guidance of the De Lanerolle brothers.
We spoke to Eksath, Vithma and Tharushi ahead of the show and this is what they had to share with us.
Q: How do you guys know each other?
Vithma: We know each other through The Voice, but I’ve known Tharushi longer than Eksath, since he joined this January only.
Q: How old are you? What do you do professionally and how do you balance singing with this?
Eksath: I’m 21 and I schooled at S. Thomas’ College and right now, I work in Marketing at Hemas Pharmaceuticals. I started singing at church and at various church activities and that is where I practise and sing the most. I am part of a few choirs in our church. I joined The Voice this January.
Vithma: I’m 20 and I went to Asian International School, but I grew up in the States. Right now I’m studying Psychology in Malaysia and I plan on specialising in Child Psychology. I’ve been singing as a professional, and have been taking on many gigs while also modelling part time. Being very competitive, I became runner-up for Yes Super Star 2015, Revolution of Sounds XII and Siyatha Ms. World competition as well. To keep myself in touch with music, my friends and I always catch up at someone’s house and just jam and spend the night singing our hearts out.
Tharushi: I am 17 and I’m still schooling at Wycherley International in Grade 12. I’ve been with The Voice since the inception and I’ve been training with uncle Ishan for the last five years now. I hope to pursue singing professionally.
Q: Why did you decide to do this concert?
Tharushi: It is a great platform, where we can grow professionally and exhibit our talents.
Vithma: Uncle Ishan’s push and belief in us is what gave us the courage to do this concert and strive for a career in music.
Eksath: This concert will be a first for a student from The Voice as well and we will be actualising a great vision that uncle Ishan has for The Voice and for the music industry in Sri Lanka.
Q: What got you into singing? What are your fondest memories?
Eksath: For me, it was church and being part of the choir. My fondest memory would have to be, where I did a solo by Jim Reeves at a memorial service and everyone loved it. They said I sounded like him and that hearing a voice like mine was rare in this generation, since I’m more into oldies and classics.
Tharushi: I’ve been playing the keyboard since I was five and I used to practise with aunt Sham Perera and then I started training with uncle Ishan De Lanerolle. The Voice started around two years ago, and I joined from the start. I think my fondest memory is of me and my band just getting up and jamming one open mic night, and I was just 12. That’s when I realised this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Vithma: I always sang as a child but my fondest memory has to be singing Tony Christie’s, ‘How deep is the night’, which I sang for an All Island Singing Competition, when I was 9 or 10. It was judged by a lot of foreign judges, who all got really emotional. That was when I discovered I really wanted to sing. There was a time in my life where I really felt down and never wanted to get on stage and sing, when I was 15 or 16, and that’s when my friends really encouraged me to sing at REVO; that’s where I rediscovered myself and my love for singing. I became the Runner-Up. I was always a very competitive kid. If someone said I didn’t sound good, then I started practising and made sure that I did an amazing job the next time around.
Q: What do you think about the Sri Lankan music industry and how has it changed over the years? Do you have any Lankan inspirations?
Tharushi: It’s definitely improving. People are becoming much more open to different genres of music and becoming more open to influences from other styles of music. In Sri Lanka, I think Lahiru Perera, Sanuka Wickramasinghe and BnS have really made a refreshing difference and opened up new avenues.
Vithma: Before you would see a lot of people bad-mouthing young musicians who are inspired by Western influences or music from other cultures. You would see them saying that these people are ‘taking away the culture’ or ‘spoiling future generations’, etc. But this is reducing now. You still see some people judging to date, but there are more rebels now, who clearly don’t care about fitting in with the stereotypical image of a perfect young girl or boy and I love them and am very inspired by these kind of people. In Sri Lanka, I am really inspired by Ashanthi and Natasha Rathnayake, who I met through Yes Superstar. I really love strong independent women, who are able to challenge stereotypes and make a difference.
Eksath: In Sri Lanka, my inspiration would be Clarence Wijewardena, Victor Rathnayaka, Amaradeva, and so many others. The Sri Lankan music industry is definitely improving, because if I’d asked my father a few years ago, if I could pursue a career in music, he would’ve definitely advised me not to because most musicians, especially in fields that aren’t very popular like ours, don’t make much money. I love the biscuit kudu style of music too, but what we sing is completely different and I prefer to sing it because the music is much simpler, easier, and deeper. But now, through outlets like Instagram and Facebook, and competitions like REVO, you are able to have more opportunities to showcase your talents and become popular and therefore, singing has become this big deal. My audience is also always a more senior crowd, but you see more young people liking this kind of music. So it’s really getting better and better with time.
Q: What’s next for you guys?
Eksath: Hopefully a few calls and maybe land a few more gigs (laughs).
Vithma: Through our show this September 9, we would really like talent seekers to seek us out and we hope it would open up many more opportunities in the music industry for us.
Eksath & Vithma will be hosting their concert at Access Towers, on 9 September, 2018, featuring guest artiste, Tharushi. The event will start with a networking session over drinks, as you take in the sunset and the view at the Access Towers rooftop, 6.15 p.m. onwards.
The show will start at 7.15 p.m. Tickets are priced at Rs. 2,000 and 2,500. Call Eksath on 0771696695 or Nadeeka on 0772683322 for more details.
Interview by Rovina Vandersay
Pics by Indika Handuwala