Coming home with your kind of music | Print edition


British and Asian artist Arjun Coomaraswamy, whose R&B fusion is making waves in the UK and India, talks to Ruqyyaha Deane about his plans to connect with his Lankan roots

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Arjun: I hope to make music with local stars. Photo by Indika Handuwala

Having amassed a remarkable following in UK (UK) and India as a British Asian artist with his fusion of contemporary Western and Eastern sounds, Arjun Coomaraswamy who simply becomes Arjun in his professional life, pivots to Sri Lanka to connect with its roots and bring the vibrant culture of the island to its music.

Although he emigrated to the UK when he was just four, Arjun, now 31, is as Sri Lankan as they come, with his love for a midnight kottu run and cricket. His love for music comes from his parents – his father Indrajit Coomaraswamy and his mother Tara de Fonseka, and it was his mother who drove him to play instruments when he was younger and initially reluctant, he says, when ‘he meets The Sunday Times for an exclusive interview. .

From piano, guitar, keyboard, drums and flute, Arjun says he’s always been around music, growing up. “My mother loved western music and played a lot of jazz while the friends I grew up with were Indian, so that’s where the influence of Bollywood came from,” he explains, adding that he started exploring Tamil music because of his father. This led to his first viral hit when he did his own rendition of “Why This Kolaveri Di” which saw the song’s original artist reach out and launch Arjun’s musical career.

Although basically Arjun’s music has a western atmosphere, he is not afraid to integrate and experiment with different languages, as evidenced by his extensive discography which includes hits from Bollywood and Kollywood. Arjun has posted collaborative videos with several well-known Desi artists including Guru Randhawa, Mickey Singh, Vidya Vox, Jonita Gandhi, F1rstman, The PropheC and Falak.

Having a solid background in music production and sound engineering which he studied at Point Blank Music School in London, the singer-songwriter has signed with Universal Music, and has also been with the biggest music label. Indian, T-Series for the past five years, touring the world performing in iconic venues such as Times Square, New York and Wembley Arena (UK), and in front of crowds of over 100,000 people. “I’ll be Waiting” her first single with T-Series ranked # 1 on the iTunes India Chart.

And as of 2021, Arjun can have over 1.1 billion views on YouTube and 1.03 million followers on YouTube. He also has over 1.6 million followers on Facebook, 450,000 followers on Instagram, 100,000 on Twitter and 2 million followers on Spotify.

Arjun the cricket fan: with top batsman Charith Asalanka

His struggle to find an identity as a British Asian where it seemed like he was torn between two worlds was actually an inspiration. “For me, I think the key has always been to have that basic inherent sound, which is English R&B, but it’s always been mixed with a kind of Asian element. Over the past 10 years, I’ve done collaborations with other artists who have a different brand, different backgrounds, different sounds than yours and it creates an interesting fusion. I think that was the key to maintaining this 10-year career, ”he adds, full of respect for Gypsies for having such incredible longevity in the industry.

His advice for budding artists is to embrace the nuances, sounds, and industry trends while still being flexible as the sound changes to suit the times. If you’re a new artist, try to find a sound that feels different to you with elements from your past experience, he says.

Now in Sri Lanka, where his appearances have so far been few – just a few private shows and small club performances, he hopes to connect with local fans. He was memorable in 2012 when he sang the official theme song of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup alongside Bathiya, Santhush and Umaria and performed at the opening ceremony of the Premier League sri- Lankan, the same year.

“I haven’t been to Sri Lanka since 2019 because of the pandemic, otherwise I usually come three times a year to visit my family. We just teamed up with Ravi de Silva from The Management Co. Intl. (TMCI) and the plan is to do some collaborations here. We are chatting with some really great legends of the Sri Lankan scene to try to bring my younger formula and their classic songs from the past, to try to create something new, like a hybrid of the two, ”said Arjun keeping its collaborating artists. secret for now.

“I’ve kind of played and built an audience where I guess I can do a gig in almost any country, moving to every continent, but I haven’t established myself as a particular stronghold. So I think it would be great to come to Sri Lanka and do something like that, ”he shares.

While in Sri Lanka, Arjun also hopes to educate young people about heart risk. After the shattering loss of his wife Natasha to sudden cardiac arrest three years ago, Arjun got involved with the Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) charity which helps people like him who have lost. loved ones or other young people to point this out. publish. He hosted a charity concert in 2020 to support this cause and is currently CRY’s charity ambassador.

The pandemic took him back to his early days as an artist, recording covers in his bedroom and writing songs, some of which he hopes to release this year. Super excited to perform again with concerts planned in the Maldives, there is one to be held in Sri Lanka in December, he reveals. Fans will undoubtedly count the days for this kind of home gig, and for Arjun it is so important that he calls it “the holy grail”!

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