Hint of a new era of local music production?
Article by Thamali Wijekoon
Meet Joshua Perera. Amidst being passionate, energetic, dedicated and all other commonplace words, he has a thirst for bringing novelty to the Sri Lankan music production scene. So with two ice-cold lemon crushers to compensate for the hot sunny day, we set to talk- digging into the production subterranean.Joshua is from a music- oriented family. But it was coincidentally that he got into production. “I started playing guitar when I was about 16 and soon became obsessed with it to the extent that I wanted to record covers and upload them online. While there were good studios around, the ones that I could afford charged about 3000 rupees per hour and still did a shoddy job, hardly putting any effort in. So I took it upon myself and with the basic equipment that I had, I managed to record some songs for my friends. They received around 2000-3000 views maximum online at the time but that got me genuinely interested in production. I became a part of an organization called ‘The Acoustic Collective’ where we had a one year program to help five different local artists who had written original music to record, produce and release them for free.”
He is now studying for a degree in music in Singapore at Lasalle Colllege of the Arts, specializing in production; his unfaltering interest.
You don’t sing in anyway, do you? “I can sing…. But I prefer to be the person who sits behind the computer. I see my job as being a music producer and by reading up about people whom I look up to like Max Martin, Dr Dre and one of the biggest figures in the Sri Lankan music scene - Pasan Liyanage, I’ve learnt that the role of a music producer is to oversee the whole project by being behind the curtains. The important part of it is not drawing too much attention to one’s self so as to steal the spotlight from the artist. I too, over the years, liked being the person behind scenes. There’s a lot of satisfaction in knowing that without your effort, it all wouldn’t have come together.”
Joshua’s most recent release was ‘Saddeh’; a collaboration with rapper Ranoosh. “Ranoosh likes to bring up triggering topics but not for the sake of being offensive. It was a social commentary on a lot of things that you get to see in Colombo; and a genuine influence was Iraj. Ranoosh and I came up with the concept for the video and right now we have close to 32,000 views on YouTube. That was a great step for us since it was the first time I was able to create something that on its own had so much impact. I’m keen on taking it another step forward in my next production; may be not as offensive but something different!” he says, laughing.
You were nominated for YES fm Homegrown Awards in 2016? “Yes, I was nominated for the song ‘Are You the One for Me’ by Arom Medis which I produced for the ‘Acoustic Collective’ EP. Yes FM and TNL in particular do a lot for promoting original music in Sri Lanka.”
What’s your style of music? “I listened to Eminem, lots of Heavy Metal and EDM growing up, but right now I’m really into mainstream pop music because of my interest in popular music production.”
He is still a big fan of the 'richly chaotic 90’s bubblegum pop' for good reasons. “It’s a bit cringe worthy but to this day I love listening to stuff like Britney Spears and Katy Perry. It’s the same person who wrote ‘Baby One More Time’ who also wrote Ariana Grande’s ‘Break Up With Your Girlfriend’ and Katy Perry’s ‘California Girls’- it’s Max Martin. I’ve been trying to figure out the approach that they’ve used to make pop songs over a span of 20 years that everyone from my father to my little brother loves.”
You said that you are not afraid of doing provocative songs. Aren’t you afraid of being criticized? “That really depends. Someone who is mentioned a lot in interviews is Iraj but since he is such a strong public figure, he creates a dialogue on issues that should be discussed. I believe that as long as you have the ability to take the public reaction at your stride, it’s ok to create that discourse because it enables society to be introspective.”
Joshua has moved away from live instruments and sees a future in Software based music production. His go-to production software is FL Studio. “Most young producers use it because it’s very user-friendly.” What are your upcoming productions? “I’m producing two new Sinhala songs.....
Read more of our interview with Joshua in Issue 51 of Chokolaate Magazine in stores and online now!