An exclusive interview with Diluckshan Jeyaratnam

Independent Tamil artist, multi-talented Diluckshan Jeyaratnam talks to Team Soda about his latest release ‘Avire’, working with Dayan Shan and what it means to be an artist of quality.

By A. P. K.

Diluckshan Jeyaratnam’s recently released Avire, has been received exceptionally well and is certain to be a hit. The music video of Avire is directed by Dayan Shan, a close friend of Diluckshan and also the lyricist for the song and the theme of the song is about the pain and heartbreak evoked when a love story ends in separation and divorce. The entire team behind ‘Avire’ have executed their skills amazingly well on a whole. Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the lead singer behind this exceptional project.

The Beginning

Born and raised in Denmark, Diluckshan is originally from Sri Lankan Tamil descent. An all-rounder in his field, Diluckshan began his singing career even before he could walk and has been performing on stage since the age of 4. “I started performing on stage on the drums with my family. I’m originally a drummer but I also learned to play the guitar,” he says. He started singing at the age of 9 after some persuasion from his father who felt he had a talent for it. “I was very hesitant at first”, Diluckshan admits. “I didn’t feel like I could do it, but my father believed in me and he eventually got me convinced.”

After that, there was absolutely no looking back.

Now, Diluckshan performs professionally and plays a number of different instruments, including the piano, saxophone, tin flute, and guitar as well as his favorite drums. “The first song I sang at the age of 9 on stage was a Sri Lankan song called ‘Kovil Mani Osai’ and it was a challenge to me. I sang it for a singing competition and actually won first prize.”

This down-to-earth artist very kindly joined us for an interview to share his experiences and thoughts behind ‘Avire, ‘Irudhi and what it’s like being an independent artist in an increasingly competitive industry.

The Talk

How would you describe yourself in just one word?

Stubborn. I’m very stubborn when it comes to quality and I trust my ability to determine whether something is of quality or not. If I don’t feel that something isn’t of quality, then I won’t do it or go for it.

You say you are quality-minded. Can you please elaborate on that?

I don’t want to put out any piece of my work that I feel is not of the high standard that I want. That’s why it can go for several months before I post a video online of a cover song or of anything for that matter because at least I know that when I do post something I am satisfied with, I can be sure that there is a huge possibility the audience will be happy with it. When people write to me and ask me if I would be willing to do a song with them, I feel very happy and grateful about it because I appreciate them reaching out to me, so I ask them to send a sample of the song but if I feel that it is good enough then I tell them directly. It’s never anything personal, it’s just that sometimes I may feel that the song doesn’t suit me or it doesn’t touch me and it has led me to turn many offers down because of my stubbornness for quality.

Tell us about your beginnings. When did your professional journey in music start?

About one and a half years ago. I actually wanted to keep music as a hobby and not really take it into a career. That’s what I’ve always done since I was a kid and I used music to escape from everything and to keep me from the normal working life. I finished my degree in multimedia design and marketing and then I tried to apply for and find a job in that field for two years but I wasn’t lucky enough because I didn’t have any experience. It was always a setback for me and at some point, I was really frustrated that I wasn’t going anywhere with my life. After thinking about what I really wanted and what I really wanted to do, I realised that I only had one passion and that was to be on stage, singing, acting, performing. This is really what I wanted to do since I was a kid and then that’s when I applied to the Danish Academy of Musical Theatre. I’ve actually known about this school for a long time and I’ve seen the shows they do. So I sent an application through for an audition and this was my next step in determining my future career. I was actually one of around 155 applicants. They chose 25 to the second try outs, and I was one of them. From there they chose 4 and I felt so fortunate that I started crying. It was the moment that I realised how much this meant to me and it was a wakeup call to what I really wanted to be in my life.

“One of the great things I learned is that never hold back because of the fear that you may not be able to give a perfect result; Try anyway and you may just get that perfect result”.

What is like studying at the Danish Academy of Musical Theatre? Do you ever feel intimidated by the very talented high-end people who coach you?

It was a bit intimidating, especially in the beginning, because I couldn’t believe that I was actually here amongst these talented people. The amazing thing about the academy though is that you are actually encouraged to make mistakes and that is how you learn to improve because they say you can never move on to never doing them again unless you learn from them. They often mention this metaphor where they say you must imagine yourself being tied up and with candlewax over your eyes so you can’t see, and you are surrounded by a circle of fire. How would you see again and get yourself out of it? They say you need to find the courage to stick your head over the fire, so that the

How would you see again and get yourself out of it? They say you need to find the courage to stick your head over the fire, so that the candlewax melts, and in the beginning it sounded absurd to me but after being there for one and a half years what they said it makes so much more sense and I realised the importance of coming out of your comfort zone. When you’re fresh out of school, you feel like you are so sure of yourself but then when you start on your real journey you realise so much of yourself that you never knew before. One of the great things I learned is that never hold back because of the fear that you may not be able to give a perfect result; try anyway and you may just get that perfect result. Keep trying. The magic happens when you say to yourself “I don’t care what happens; Let’s just do this and see what happens”.

 

Who, in your personal life, inspires you the most?

My parents. It might sound cliché, but to be honest my parents have always stood by me and understood me so well even when I wasn’t sure that they did. I’ve never actually had a mentor until I started at the academy and I’ve never formally leaned Carnatic music, I just started singing and my father encouraged me to also learn the guitar and other instruments so I’ve never really had ‘mentors’ except for my parents. My mother is the centre of the family, she is the person everyone in my family goes to when they need help and the way she tackles that and keeps it all together really inspires me. My father has always encouraged me to pursue my passions and has always been supportive of my decisions. He has also lifted me out of my comfort zone and when I think back on all the things they have done for me I feel so immensely grateful.

 

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Are any of your siblings, if you have any, also in the music field like you?

I do have an elder sister, and she also sings and plays the piano. We have our own band called ‘Raga Maaliga’. I actually started making my own songs with my sister around 2009 and then we just called ourselves ‘DJ Sis and Bro’, that consisted of just the two of us making music in the garage, and we’ve been playing for so many years together. We didn’t really get much exposure but the experience we had was great. My sister doesn’t really do music professionally, she’s a software engineer and she works in the software department of a bank. She was actually a big part of my beginning in music, and she was always there for me. When I just started singing at the age of 9, I wasn’t very good at reading or writing Tamil letters so she would write down the songs in plain English for me as they were in Tamil, even Carnatic songs, and help me learn them as well as pronounce them properly. She would coach me relentlessly and was a backbone to me from the start, just like my parents. For that I’m extremely grateful to her for being a part of my musical journey and still being there for me unconditionally whenever I need her.

My sister doesn’t really do music professionally, she’s a software engineer and she works in the software department of a bank. She was actually a big part of my beginning in music, and she was always there for me. When I just started singing at the age of 9, I wasn’t very good at reading or writing Tamil letters so she would write down the songs in plain English for me as they were in Tamil, even Carnatic songs, and help me learn them as well as pronounce them properly. She would coach me relentlessly and was a backbone to me from the start, just like my parents. For that I’m extremely grateful to her for being a part of my musical journey and still being there for me unconditionally whenever I need her.

Dhodhel'in Lollu Episode 2 - Electric Love - w/ English Subtitles

Dhodhel Productions hereby release the second episode in their sketch series "Dhodhel'in Lollu". Enjoy! :D- TriOoO Boys & Co.

Posted by Diluckshan Jeyaratnam on Tuesday, 15 February 2011

‘Irudhi’ and now ‘Avire’ are both melody songs. Have you ever considered doing music outside of that genre? Do you think you could be comfortable doing something like rap music?

Yes, definitely. I’ve actually thought of doing rap music for a long time. It is just so much more difficult because with rap music you don’t use melody, you use rhythm. You have to have the flow and sense of rhythm and it’s a big thing and isn’t something that is easy to master by everyone. I’ve also wanted to try out gaana and kuthu songs as well, so that I’m not limited to one genre. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to do so in the future.

What do you think of the work of the other rappers in the industry, such as Lady Kash and MC Sai?

I think it has real potential. Lady Kash has this great attitude and I think that’s really important when it comes to hip-hop and rap, and from what I’ve heard her take on rap music and attitude is quite nice and defines her style. MC Sai is also unique in the sense that he has something that is very much his own brand, something that makes him stand out from the rest in a way that when you hear it you know immediately it’s MC Sai, you’ll never be in doubt. I do believe that as his listener and fan, he could experiment a bit more but I am very impressed with what he can do. The fact that he can write lyrics and rap like the way he does is very impressive, something I don’t think I’d be able to do. Then there’s Stylo Mannavan who I like because he is more playful with his rapping in the way he experiments with his music and has a certain amount of sass in the way he raps.

 

Can we expect rap music from you in the near future?

I don’t want to close that door… It may happen. I’m not a strong lyricist but I am a strong rhythmical person. I’m originally a drummer and rhythm is everything to me. If the opportunity comes at the right moment then definitely, I’d love to make rap music.

Have you ever considered what other career you might have pursued if music hadn’t worked out for you?

Yes, I have considered that. Since I was a kid, I have always loved Disney and I still do. I love drawing and it’s also one of the things that I still do. I was actually quite certain at one point that I wanted to be an animator and perhaps work for Disney and do animation, should music not work out. That kind of changed during high school, where I got interested with architecture, but then that also changed and I studied graphic design and multimedia. After I got my degree, I was still certain that multimedia would be my career but then I realised along the way that music had been my passion my whole life and I had just been walking away from it and it was too important to give up. So I made music my life.

“Anirudh is also someone I’d love to work with. He has found his own balance and knows how to keep the audience focused on his work. He has found a way to make the most of technology and uses it the right way. His music is different in that sense and to collaborate with him would be really great”.

Are there certain artists that you feel have something special to offer to the industry? New or existing talents that you feel have the potential to make it big?

There are quite a few actually that I feel have original talent and may make it big if they get the right exposure. In time, hopefully they will be recognised more and more. One name that comes to mind is Ramona, who is part of the Swiss Rhythms band. I saw that she made a piano cover of ‘Irudhi’ and I saw that this was a voice that is really unique. I was very honoured because she doesn’t need to make a cover of ‘Irudhi’, she could make a cover of any other famous song and get praised because her voice would sound equally good for anything but she chose ‘Irudhi’ and did a great job at it too. I also did a cover of ‘Kannamma’ which was a song sung by Inno Genga for the movie KO2, music by Leon James, and I did it because the song was exceptionally good. I was very glad to see one of our own artists having sung a song like that and I felt that he had done a great job at it too. There is also a male singer from Canada that I saw on Instagram that also made a cover of ‘Irudhi’, his name is Thatchanan and his voice is also very unique and soothing. Another talent would be Aatharan Seveal from London who is also quite good. I’d love to see more music from them in the future.

Do you keep track of the music made by other artists? What do you think of their music?

Yes, I do. Professionally speaking, they all have something that works for them, their own style, which is great. To me, everything is music. Even a best on a table is music. Everyone likes their own style of music. Maybe I like a song, maybe I don’t but either way it is all music.

 

Who do you admire professionally in the film industry? If you were to debut in the film industry, who would you like to work/collaborate with?

Professionally, I’m a huge fan of Illayaraja. I would call his kind of music ‘intelligent’ music. His work from the 80’s was amazing and he is such an intelligent composer so I admire his work a lot and has a big place in my heart. I also love A. R. Rahman’s work, it’s extremely special and I would love to work with him. From recent times, I’m a big fan of Santhosh Narayanan, his work is not too mainstream and he is also a very intelligent composer. It’s very challenging when I try to sing covers of his work, and his melodies make you feel things. His songs give me the opportunity to sing from the heart and from an honest place in me. Anirudh is also someone I’d love to work with. His work is very mainstream but he has found his own balance and knows how to keep the audience focused on his work. He has found a way to make the most of technology and uses it the right way. His music is different in that sense and to collaborate with him would be really great.

You mentioned you would love to collaborate with Anirudh. Which album of Anirudh Ravichander is your favourite?

From recent times, ‘Naanum Rowdy Dhaan’ is a definite favourite. I especially like ‘Yennai Maatrum Kadhale’. Sid Sriram is a brilliant singer. The music itself was very well put together, the melody and tune was so fresh and unique but still very familiar at the same time and it really touched me so I had to make a cover instantly, that’s how good I felt the song was. If I could debut with Anirudh, it would be an honour to sing a song like that for him.

Music Directors like Anirudh Ravichander and Leon James are known to have introduced independent music artists into the film industry. Do you think that the film industry should give more support to the independent music scene?

To be honest, I don’t think that the industry or music directors in the industry are obligated to do anything actually, because I am sure that they themselves worked hard to get to where they are today. Unless they feel that there is something unique and that an independent has the exact talent that they are looking for, they don’t specifically have to do anything. I wouldn’t get frustrated if they chose someone from the vast variety of talented singers already available in the industry for a project, because it is their choice and I respect that. I also respect them for choosing artists like Alisha Thomas and Inno Genga to do songs and recognising talent in the independent scene as well. They don’t have to feel obligated to do so but it is indeed nice when music directors support the independent music scene.

 

Was ‘Irudhi’ your first music video? What was your experience working with Dayan Shan?

Yes, it was. It all started when Dayan contacted me about it and I liked the concept so I agreed to it. Dayan and I have a friendship; we are quite close. We are buddies and we complete each other in the professional world and we advise each other when it comes to our work. He always makes fun of me as being one of the ‘pure boys’ in the industry when it comes to quality and I also make fun of him. It’s a nice friendship that we have, it’s not all professional and I appreciate him a lot. The melody and the lyrics for ‘Irudhi’ were all done on the same day, the kind of talent I was working with was amazing. Dayan Shan has gone through a huge process in his life and struggled a lot to get to where he is. He has told me himself that he is not a perfect person, and I think he is someone who is misunderstood and perhaps judged too quickly by people. Personally, I like the person that he is because whether positive or negative, he always sticks by his decisions and what he believes in and I respect people like that. Professionally, he works really hard for his projects and he never gives up. He has a vision and he is very passionate about it. He works constantly and makes sure he gets it done. He really worked hard to get to where he is today and that is very inspiring.

“Dayan and I have a friendship; we are quite close. We are buddies and we complete each other in the professional world and we advise each other when it comes to our work”.

What was your experience with ‘Avire’ and how is it different from ‘Irudhi’?

Well, to get the similarities out of the way, I worked with Dayan again and it all started like ‘Irudhi’. It’s also a sad melody song. However, the style is different. The undertone is sad but it can be interpreted with a more positive look/tone as well. We were inspired by John Legend’s ‘All of Me’, because it wasn’t a sad song but had strong emotional input which was the style we wanted in ‘Avire’. The background score is also simpler, because we limited the instruments and it’s not as heavy as ‘Irudhi’ was, and it’s an experimental project to see how people will react. ‘Irudhi’ had a public awareness message behind it, whereas ‘Avire’ not so much, it’s basically a song about the pain of separation. I share a good professional relationship with the team in general, such as Yathursan the producer and Desuban the cinematographer.  All in all, the experience was really great.

 

What does the word ‘Avire’ mean? Is it a Tamil word?

I had the same question when Dayan mentioned the title, and he said that the word is a really old, pure Tamil word and isn’t used very much anymore.  It is definitely a Tamil word though and it means ‘Splendour’. It’s a word that’s not used very much anymore.

 

Thank you for taking time out to talk to us! We really appreciate it and we wish you the very best in all your future endeavours, Diluckshan.

You’re welcome. Thank you for the opportunity. Take care!

The Wrap-Up

Diluckshan’s newest track ‘Avire’ is out now. The music video can be viewed on TamilSoda. Diluckshan has also starred in a feature film called ‘Paranoid Patient’ by Dhodhel Productions which was officially released for public view online Vimeo.com on December 6, 2015. The movie was made and went through various film festivals in 2013 and has won nine prestigious awards, including the Best Film Award at the International Film Festival of Tamil Nadu.

You can view more of Diluckshan’s work on his YouTube or Facebook channel. We are working on another exciting project with Diluckshan’s watch this space for next few weeks. 

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An exclusive interview with Diluckshan Jeyaratnam

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