Bridging the Seven Seas with magical Seven notes | Sunday Observer
“Be Yourself!”

Bridging the Seven Seas with magical Seven notes

28 November, 2021
Yohani with Salman Khan on Big Boss
Yohani with Salman Khan on Big Boss

Her cover of ‘Manike Mage Hithe’ conquered the world, with the most famous personalities grooving to the song. She managed to put many actors, actresses, singers and fans behind the mic taking on the lyrics in their own mother tongue including Telugu, Malayalam and many other regional languages in India and in other parts of the globe. Yohani de Silva has thus proved that music is a universal language that can heal, transcend and connect people irrespective of their culture. ‘Manike Mage Hithe’ was the first Sinhalese hit song in India, peaking at Number One on the India Top 50 Spotify Chart, surpassing 170 million You Tube views and 18 million streams as of now.

Some were quick to say that this 28-year old’s rise to fame was a stroke of luck. But can luck alone make an artiste eminent? Yohani attests that there is a correlation between luck, talent, hard work and dedication to be persistent in emerging as an artiste loved by people at all times. After the completion of a successful tour in India where Yohani met her fans and many artistes, she joined the Sunday Observer Spectrum to talk about her multilingual ambitions as a performer.

Viral sensation

This amazingly talented viral sensation’s latest single ‘Moving On’ was launched recently. Yohani who intermingles pop, R&B, hip-hop and alternative said ‘Moving On’ is about pushing through and embracing your power to face life with confidence. Guitar-laced beats, pop melodies together with a rap bridge and embellished with a stunning video the song is set to capture her fans’ hearts.

“It is not a sad song but is about moving on from anything in life with confidence. It is punchy and you can dance to it, it has got a Sri Lankan vibe on the bridge,” Yohani said.

The song`Moving On’ which switches effortlessly between English and Sinhalese is out now via Red Bull Records and is written and directed by Dilanjan Seneviratne while the music video is collaborative effort between local record label Pettah Effect and production partner Theewra.

“This song is the latest in the series of releases from global artistes through Red Bull Label and I am very excited to be taking Sri Lankan music to the world,” she said about her new release.

Passion for music

Reminiscing how she started her journey in music, she said it was her parents who first introduced her to classics by The Bee Gees. “My adventure in music first started when I was first introduced to the pop and disco sensation Bee Gees by my parents. During my childhood I was given piano and guitar lessons and I was very passionate about those lessons. I also played the trumpet in the school brass band,” she said.

In between her undergrad years in Sri Lanka and a Master’s Degree program in Australia, she immersed herself in music as much as possible, discovering Western Artistes on You Tube and listening to everyone from Rihanna, Eminem, Alicia Keys and John Mayer to trip-hop such as Portishead, Zero 7, Massive Attack in addition to metal mainstays like Avenged Sevenfold.

“When I first got out of high school I started doing small covers and thereafter I went to Australia to pursue my higher education, and during my leisure time I used to play the guitar and sing. In 2016, I started my first YouTube channel and started doing covers and I also started working with an independent music company called Pettah Effect,” she said.

Not an easy journey

“I remember, we used to play till late at pubs for just 30 bucks. I went on to try different genres of music and released a few originals of mine as well. It definitely hasn’t been an easy journey for me thus far, but with the support I have continuously received from my band, team Pettah Effect and all especially from my well-wishers, I am happy with what we have been able to achieve,” she said.

Being asked to describe the type of music she makes and the type of music she is interested in, Yohani said, “Well in short I am an artiste who experimented most of the genres and it is safe to say that I am a genre fluid artiste.”


Yohani draws her musical inspiration from world famous singers as well as those who are close to her personal life. “I have a few musical inspirations who influenced me along the way, and they would be Eminem, Avenged Sevenfold, Rihanna and of course Portishead to name a few. More over my parents and my team Pettah Effect inspired me to push through my limits for which I am grateful for,” she said.

Yohani recently toured India where she not only met her fans at two electrifying concerts alongside with her nine member band, but she also met with many Indian artistes with whom she will probably collaborate in future. She said her experience in India was overwhelming in a good way. “The experience in India was very overwhelming in a good way. I did not expect the crowds to be so engaged with me right throughout; it was such a thrilling experience especially for me as well as my team. It was then I realised I had more than a decent amount of fans in India who supported me and engaged with me as I was performing on stage. I have a lot more work lined up In India and I will be going there in January,” she said.

What impact does the popularity of Menike Mage Hithe has had on this upcoming artiste? “I am still trying to adjust myself to the gigantic love and support I am receiving each day. To this day it still feels unreal to me. Since the day Satheesan and I released our song my team keeps sending me covers of Manike Mage Hithe that they come across and to me this is such a happy moment to see many out there loving my version of the song. I feel so good and I am genuinely happy that it all happened,” Yohani said.

Social media’s role

Currently social media platforms have become the new way for artistes to connect with their fan-base. Over the years and especially after the pandemic took over the world bringing all gigs and concerts to a standstill, social media platforms were mostly utilized by various artistes to reach a wider audience. Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, You Tube and Facebook are some of the widely used platforms by solo artistes, musicians and bands to reach these potential fans. Yohani too had her share of advantages of social media from the beginning of her career in music.

“Social media has been a good friend to me and helped me in a lot of ways. When the pandemic broke out, all pre-planned shows and concerts were canceled and I did not have any way of performing, so I made covers using my piano and guitar at home and posted on all my social media platforms and there was a lot of love and positivity coming and I think social media has been a great source to me all throughout,” she said.

Speaking on the impact Social Media will have on the music industry in the future, Yohani said, “We live in a digital era right now, and I think it not only has an impact on our field. It has an impact on all industries. It’s something we can’t live without, I reckon.”

At the same time there are inverse effects of social media on artistes as well. The offensive comments some people tend to type and criticism or even sexism may make a performer feel like running away from social media. Yohani believes that criticism is important to grow.

Facing criticism

“Criticism is important to grow. There is both constructive and destructive criticism. At first I found it difficult to comprehend the negativity. Fortunately my team was always supportive and that support system really helped me. I believe I have a lot to learn and I am always open to learning,” she said.

However, if people use Social Media in a purely positive way, without tarnishing the image of a person by their opinion, it could be a wonderful platform for performers to create a loyal following.

“Try new things!”

Speaking to those who aspire to be like her, Yohani said “Don’t try to be like anyone, be yourself. Any field you choose is a challenge and it takes time for us to get accustomed to it. So keep at it, try new things, work as a team and good things will happen.”

This emerging young artiste was recently awarded the ‘Kala Keerthi Abhimani’ for her contribution to Sri Lanka’s music industry by the All Island Cultural Environment Protection Organisation.

Future plans

Revealing her future plans, Yohani said she is working on her debut album which is to be released next year.

“I’m am currently working on my debut album which I intend to release in July next year and it is called Kella which includes 12 songs out of which I have already released one song called Ithin Aadare. I composed all the songs of the album,” she said.

She did not forget to thank those who helped her along the way. “A huge shout out and a thank you for my parents, my band and the team behind Pettah Effect for being my con stant support system,” she said.