Jananath Warakagoda - Young Sri Lankan Music Sign

Famous journalist Umangi De Mel had a exclusive interview with young Sri Lankan music personality Jananath Warakagoda.

This is the conversation.

Breathtaking vibes

They've come to the local music arena as a fresh breeze. Among the various sounds of breath-taking musical vibes, `fusion' music has been able to grab the young as well as the young-at-heart. "I believe that I'm blessed with a bounty of abilities to do the things I find ultimate joy in," says Jananath Warakagoda.

Claiming to be the first `three in one' musician (Percussionist, singer and composer) based in Sri Lanka, he talks about his credentials. Hailing from a family where fame has always found an anchor, he's actually the son of Wijeratne and Chitra Warakagoda who have been pioneers of Sri Lankan theatre. Twenty six year old Jananath has already got his break to play his heart out to the international audience as well as the local crowd.

Groomed by many pacesetters in the industry, Jananath talks about his life as a musician.

"At the age of six, I learnt the key board under guru Shelton Premaratne. I had the knack for tapping on things from the toddler years. I guess it's a born talent," he brags but the fact is that this guy can actually afford to do so as he's got oodles of forte. He drums a little, a tap here and a tap there on several drums making ripples of simple yet rich sound. "I learnt singing with Shelton Premaratne, Jayanthi Peiris and Leslie Wijewardena at Ashoka College, my first school. It was after I came to Ananda College that I learnt dancing and music with Walter Perera, Lionel Ranwela and Sunanda Balasooriya," he says.

According to Jananath, he's been a versatile student in school, "I used to act, sing, dance and play at any occasion and I've won many competitions back then," he remembers. Creating music to suit the affair, Jananath has become a most wanted character in the local music industry. He does the kind of music that his soul desires and doesn't bother competing with others any more, "I don't want to compete, I just want to play because that's what pleases me most," he says. At the age of ten, Jananath has stated learning Indian classical vocals with B.Victor Perera in Sri Lanka. "I did my exams up to 'Visharadha' level but I couldn't complete as my master passed away but I've got to do it next year," he says.

The ten year old Jananath has been pretty busy learning music when his peers played ball. "I learnt classical 'thabla' with guru D. R. Peiris and I've been able to finish the `Visharadha' level. I also learnt Sri Lankan traditional drums under Piyasara Shilpadhipathi and traditional Kandyan and freestyle dancing with guru Channa Wijewardena and Upuli Panibaratha," he says adding that Vindya, his sister still dances with Channa and Upuli.

He fuses western and eastern sounds giving birth to an exquisite blend. His character is depicted by the room that's transformed into a mini studio. Its drums, ornaments including both western and eastern music instruments, bright mats done in an artistic manner and the whole works.

Jananath has been a famous face on television many years back. "At the age of eight, I did a minor role in Henry Jayasena's stage play `Chalk Circle'. I was the small kid who's adopted by Grusha," he goes on, "My first tele drama was Bandula Withanage's `Aththa Bindei' at ten. The second one was Ranjith Perera's 'Maga Salakunu' when I was 12. And then at 14, I acted in Somaratne Dissanayake's first teledrama, 'Punchi Patavu'," he says going back in time.

The somewhat arrogant musician in Jananath says that he doesn't imitate another person's style. "But I respect and appreciate Pandit Amaradeva a lot. There's so much to learn in his music. Plus, I listen to all type of music. From Pandit Amaradeva to Indian classical `Ranga', Indian fusion music, rock and even Michael Jackson. I like his style and music," he admits. His favourite musicians are A. R. Rahman, Shivamani and Zakir Hussain. "Zakir Hussain was in Sri Lanka during the time I was working at YATV as a music composer cum producer. He came to YATV and I gave him my 'thabla' and asked if we could play together. He agreed and we did a small drum dialog at YATV," he reveals.

Speaking about his tours abroad, Jananath says his first trip had been to Norway to play drums at an art exhibition in `93. "I've been going around the world since," he says. His career as a musician in Sri Lanka has kicked off with `Super Fortunes' as a percussionist in `97. Anthony Surendra from the band called 'Shakthi' has invited him to join his band, "I still play with Anthony," he says. Speaking about his passion, fusion music Jananath says that he just loves fusing western and eastern rhythm patterns.

A definite hit with the duo, Bathiya and Santhush, Jananath has made the crowd go 'wowee'. Calling himself a freelance musician, Jananath says he plays with bands like 'Wildfire', 'Alien accent' 'B & S' and lot of other up and coming musicians, "I've played for their original albums and at the moment I play for movies, ads and recordings."

Planning to start his own studio, Jananath says he loves hip hop, R & B, country and western music. "I've got the ability to listen to all types of music without making much ado about it. I take what's good in them to create my own stuff. I'm looking forward to do my own vocal and instrumental CD," he reveals.

To him music is life, a profession and food. "It's an essential part of my life. He believes that life can't be lived in a loud bing bang manner, "You've got to have peace of mind. I take things gently and I need to live my life in serenity to create the sound of music," he says.