Senani is a singer/songwriter
Introduce yourself and tell us where you are from?
I’m Senani and I am a singer/songwriter born in Sri Lanka and based in Australia. I create music of several different genres, however my main style is soul, funk and R&B.
When did you start making music and realize that you wanted to be a singer?
I first started singing at the age of 5 and playing the piano and dancing at 7 years old. I started songwriting from the age of 14 years old and I realised I wanted to be a recording artist and performer from the age of 7 years old.
I always had music around me, being from a musical family. My mother was an A grade radio singer and dancing teacher in Sri Lanka before becoming a well known actress there. I grew up around Eastern music (from Sri Lanka and India) as well as soul, funk from the Motown era.
When I was 15 years old I mentioned to my parents that I wanted to become a professional singer and create music, however, I was encouraged to follow another career to support myself and went to University, studying Medicine at the same time as studying for my AMEB exams in piano and taking Vocal lessons. I started recording music soon after I left university and started writing for my full length album Infinity in 2010. I have produced and promoted all my music independently.
Voodoo Girl – Senani
How would you describe the music that you make? I know it’s hard to compare yourself to other artists and styles, but what kind of vibe is your music on?
My music is based on soul and funk, as well as elements of eastern music by fusing tabla and sitar with funk and pop grooves. It’s a mix of uptempo uplifting vibes such as in the song Free and soulful ballads such as A Special Kind Of Girl. Many of the musical ideas for my songs are created through a process of channelling and inspiration rather than by formula or theory and don’t follow any rules. Hence, a lot of the music on my album isn’t purely of a specific style or genre. I do love creating catching melodies that people can sing along to.
What do you think sets you apart from other female singers in the game right now?
My style draws from elements of soul, funk, eastern music and Jazz. Being a dancer, the groove is very important in my songs and is often the feature, such as in Voodoo Girl, Free, Flirting not Working and Just us.
My voice has been likened to artists such as Sade, Bjork, Katherine Battle and Minnie Ripperton. Using sweet soulful tones with an edge in my voice at times and a high range up to two octaves above middle C, I like to explore all shades, tones and colours when I express myself vocally.
My music has been featured on MTV India and Rage and MTV in Australia as well as received airplay in the USA and national FM radio. As an independent artist based in Australia, I believe the world is not beyond exploration and I have ventured outside, promoting and performing in countries such as the USA (Nashville and LA) for extended periods and Asia. I will be venturing towards Europe in the summer of 2014 to promote my single release FREE (the remixes) and the upcoming fusion/alternative single New day.
A special kind of girl – by Senani
What do you enjoy the most about the whole process of recording and writing music? Is there something that you absolutely love and is there anything that maybe you don’t like doing as much?
I enjoy the whole process of creating new music, from the conception of the melody, lyrics and chords, which as previously mentioned, these days is mostly created through channelling to the recording of the musical arrangement, mixing and mastering.
Music channelling is an exciting process, one that occurs spontaneously and without thought. The ideas are delivered to me via a higher source and I am just the transcriber. During these moments I feel connected with the higher energy and Universe and feel I am In sync with the greater creative force that surrounds us that often we ignore or take for granted.
I tend to be a perfectionist when I create a track. I record all my vocals in my home studio and I am very critical of the results, wanting to create the best that I can. Often this leads to parts needing to be recorded again or reworked. Sometimes it becomes frustrating if I can’t get the vocals sounding the way I like them to after a few attempts. However, I realise that with a bit of persistence and letting go, the right take seems to flow and I achieve what I imagined it would sound like.
What do you consider your biggest achievement so far?
When my song FREE was nominated for a 2013 Hollywood Music in Media awards in the R&B/soul category and when I was listed in the hot 100 of unsigned artists of 2013 by the reputable music industry magazine Music Connection in the USA.
I attended the awards show at the Fonda theatre in Hollywood in November 2013 and It was exciting to be a part of a prestigious industry event such as this. It was my first time walking on the red carpet and being interviewed by local cable TV and radio.
The song ‘Free‘ has received airplay on USA cable Tv programs such as Sidewalks TV and California Music channel and is being promoted by MTV India Roots.
What feedback from the media have you had?
Well known Australian radio presenter/producer of The edge program, 96.1FM, Charlie Fox, describes the singles ‘Free’ and ‘Voodoo Girl’ as “really nice stuff, very classy”, believing it is the kind of music that will have international appeal, particularly in the United States, The United Kingdom and Asia.
Let’s talk about your latest project, Who dealt with the production and how long did it take to make?
Infinity is my first full length album and I started writing the songs for this project in 2010. I worked with a couple of co-writers and musicians, Eric Rasmussen (ex Heatwave band member) and Nik Pringadi who have worked with the likes of Cindy Lauper, Rick Astley, Smokey Robinson, Karen Carpenter, Samantha Fox, Human Nature and many other International and local acts to produce half of the tracks on my album, including the title track Infinity.
I also worked with Andro Martinez from the Martinez brothers and DJ Alex Svetlov, to add extra production on several of the tracks including Free, Voodoo Girl and Just Us.
Being a self produced album, however, Infinity and it’s creation was supervised along the way from conception to completion by me. I like to oversee all aspects of the production, lending my input to vocal and music arrangements as well as the sound of the final mixed and mastered product.
Infinity, the singles was released in December 2013 and contains 6 tracks including Infinity, Voodoo Girl, Free, A special kind of Girl, No more and Just us.
Do you think that radio is still important now in the digital age?
Yes, I do. Although I believe it is appearing in a different form such as via internet radio stations which the public have world-wide access to. Local radio is becoming less of a utilised source for new music I believe these days, compared to sites such as spotify and You tube.
Do you think the internet helps or hinders independent artists?
I think the internet greatly helps independent artists achieve local and world-wide exposure and to a greater audience than previously. It allows an artist to build up a following in many places at once, without necessarily having to be based in those countries or cities.
Let’s talk image and branding for a minute. Some artists spend lots of money on artwork and other acts aren’t that interested. How important is image, artwork and branding to you?
I am an artist and performer as well as a creator of music and I have always placed an importance on the image I present to the public as an artist. My image or branding translates a message to the public about the kind of music I create as well as my stage persona. I like wearing hats and funky, vibrant clothing, donning on head pieces and unusual jewellery and glamorous make overs. As an individual off stage, on a day to day basis, though, I am conservative and simple and the branding is in a sense my alter ego.
Just Us- Senani
Do you enjoy playing live? Have you done many gigs and what kind of artists have you supported or played alongside?
My favourite and most loved aspect of my music life is live performance. It is where I can be fully in the moment and at one with the music. It is where I can let go of the intricate process of creation and production and be in a different place in myself as an expressive performer. I love dancing and creating a show case and treat each performance as a piece of art to be shared with my fans. I love the experience of joy and happiness I feel when I perform on stage as well as the ability to create happiness in others through music expression.
I perform regularly in local clubs and festivals in Australia such as the Basement in Sydney and the Mattara Music Festival and also played in numerous venues during my 7 month stay in the USA (Nashville and LA) in 2013.
I have played alongside artists such as Silver Chair and Margaret Urlich at the Mattara Music festival and appeared on National TV at the NBN telethon with silverchair. I played in LA club, Room 5 lounge in December 2013 with guitarist Michael O’neill (band member for George Benson) and Grammy award winning Bassist Hussain Jiffrey who plays with Herb Alpert and Serges Mendes.
What music were you bumping when you were coming up?
My music mentor is Michael Jackson. He has shaped and influenced me as an artist/performer and as a person since the age of 9 years old. My all time favourite album is Off The Wall. I also enjoy listening to neo soul artists such as Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and Maxwell as well as all time favourites Whitney Houston, Aaliyah, Billie Holiday, Motown, Sade and 70’s disco and funk.
Senani- Live Superstar Dance, Blue Beat
What plans have you got for the future?
I am currently working on a new single release, ‘New Day‘, which is a fusion track that blends eastern sounds with a rock/alternative edge. This song as well as several tracks from the Infinity album have featured maestro Tabla player Bobby Singh and sitarist Sarangan Sriranganathan and has had extra production by Nik Pringadi.
Would like to send any shout outs to anybody?
Godfrey Fletcher for his hard work and persistence at keeping all of us Soul singers and songwriters out in the public ear. Thanks for your patience my dear friend with me getting these answers back to you.
CLICK PHOTO 2 find about THE ALBUM “Infinity”
Free (original radio mix)- by Senani
Australian music magazine the Drum Media has given my music favourable reviews including this one for a previous single ‘I am Gone” (see below)
‘Another Novocastrian, but though opening for the Chair – back when they were the Innocent Criminals, yet-making very different music. This is well made for an indie, very commercial R&B, of what is called that these day. It really does sound like it should be running out of your TV on a Saturday morning. Has some suitably ethnic flavour coming through to make it a little more individual, and that stutter in it that makes dancing to it in need of a little thought between head and feet. And there’s that phone-tone noise again. Sorry there’s only the one song (and mixes thereof) but an EP is on the way, apparently’
Everything I Do (EP) – Senani Great soul singer, another Newcastle product!
2RRR Recommended Listening
“ An Excellent Singer “
Music editor, Sydney Morning Herald, sept 13th 2012, Agin court hotel
Free (Cliff Randall radio remix)- by Senani