1 – When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?
I started singing from the age of 5 years old and dancing from the age of 7 years old. My first childhood memory was of singing and i don’t recall what inspired me to start, so i can only assume that it was something i was naturally born to do. I know that music was always around me as i come from a musical family. My mother was an A grade radio singer in Sri lanka as well as a dancing teacher before she became a well known actress there. My father bought a piano for the house when i was a child, as he plays the instrument and sings by ear and i remember starting to tinker on it from the age of 7 years old. I started taking piano lessons from the age of 10 years old, sitting for my AMEB exams as well.
I love music from the 1970’s, soul, disco and funk and would often listen, sing and dance to the songs of artists from that era. These include Lionel Richie, Boney M, The Jacksons, Diana Ross, George Benson, The Pointer sisters, Earth wind and Fire, Olivia Newtown John, Motown and the Bee Gees.
At the age of 9 years old, i was introduced to Michael Jackson, who became my music mentor and greatest influence. I would rehearse dance steps by watching and emulating his moves on video, to the point that now some of the moves have become a part of my muscle memory. My all time favourite album is Off the wall. Other artists who inspired me as a singer and musically, growing up, were Whitney Houston, Aaliyah, Madonna, Prince, George Michael, John Lennon and Billie Holiday.
I enjoy singing blues and jazz and my voice has been likened to artists such as Sade, Kathleen Battle, Minnie Ripperton, and Bjork. I was classically trained in piano and vocals as a teenager and all my teachers inspired me as well to become the best i can be in the art of music.
2 – Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?
Most definitely. The music i create is soul/funk and RNB primarily. However, i was also exposed to traditional Indian and Sri Lankan music growing up and i love to fuse instruments such as tabla and sitar with western grooves to create my own style. I grew up listening to my mother perform on stage and in films and developed an instant love for these instruments and grooves. A friend of mine introduced me to the music of artists such as Viswanathan Mohan Bhat and Ravi Shankar and i would attend classical Indian shows from a young age. Several songs on my album, Infinity, use elements of South Asian instrumentation such as Voodoo Girl, Free, No more, and New day. I have worked with Maestro tabla player Bobby Singh who resides in Australia and sitarist Sarangan Sriranganathan and they have lent their talents to my current project, Infinity.
3 – How long have you been playing/writing?
I started performing from a young age of 7, putting on shows with my sisters for friends and family at parties. I entered my first music competition, which i won in dance, at the age of 10 years old and started performing on stage as a teenager for music schools and festivals.
I won several competitions in my late teens and was chosen to perform at the Mattara Music festival, alongside artists such as Silver Chair and Margaret Urlich. I was also chosen as a dancer in Peter Andre’s video clip for his song ‘Let’s get it on’.
I have been performing in Sydney with my soul/funk band over the last 7 years at clubs, festivals, private functions and events.
In 2013 i travelled overseas to the USA, in particular, Nashville, Austin and L.A. working 2-3 times a week with local musicians as a duo and band in venues such as Room 5 lounge, and Douglas Corner.
I started writing songs from the age of 14 years old, which i started to fine tune in my late teens, inspired by a friend from University who was writing Christian music. The themes were often about Love and loss, bluesy in nature initially. These days, however, i write music of all genres from Soul/Funk/R&B to pop and alternative/fusion. Ballads as well as dance club tunes. Most of the creation of music occurs through a process of inspiration or channelling, whereby the musical ideas are brought to me from a higher source, such that i am just the transcriber. This usually occurs in the middle of the night, waking up or falling off to sleep or in dreams. Occasionally ideas will come to me while i am driving or doing an activity where my left brain is switched off.
4 – How often do you play live (include details and links for any upcoming gigs)?
Currently i am working in the studio on a new project and have been performing less in the last 5 months. My next performance is at Forest Lodge Hotel in Glebe on Thursday, June 12th at 8pm where i play as a duo with my guitarist Tommy D.
I am also doing a promotional tour of Sri Lanka in July and will be playing live in Colombo. To keep up to date with my gigs, please visit my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/senanimusic
5 – What has been your favourite moment in music?
My favourite moment in music is whenever i perform on stage and feel at one with the music, without thinking and judging. I am totally in the moment. Experiencing joy and sharing that with my audience.
Apart from that it was also when i received notice that my song Free was nominated for a 2013 Hollywood Music in Media Award in the R&B Soul category and when i was listed in the hot 100 unsigned artists of 2013 by reputable U.S. music magazine Music Connection.
6 – Where is the best place to find you online?
Either through my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/senanimusic or my website http://www.senani.com
You can also find me on twitter http://www.twitter.com/senaniw
You tube http://www.youtube.com/senanimusic