He came from a musical background where he developed his interests in music, and there after decided to continue with his musical journey. He is none other than Rajiv Sebastian, whose childhood passion by collecting pre recorded cassettes and vinyl records finally turned out to be an epic journey up to now, filled with challenges, but soldiering on. He started his own band in the 1990’s, in order to regenerate the 70’s music, as ‘Rajiv & the Clan’ who entertained both young and old with the unforgettable melodies of the 70’s and baila music, which received a massive response.
He recently released a song with Ishaq Baig , called ‘Nana’ as his latest release , shortly after the 21/4 Easter attacks as a song to bring back unity and spread peace & harmony. The song got positive feedback the audience and was considered as an inspirational song. He is also known for doing cover versions of the late Clarence Wijewardene, such as ‘Loke Jeewath Wannata’ and others including ‘Suwadak Danevi Hadehi Adara loke’ , ‘Mal yahanawaki loke’ to name a few . He is also a composer, an event organizer and a music coordinator, all in one. He has a special place in his heart for the late Clarence Wijewardene, where he gained much inspiration from, and following his style as a tribute to the music legend. He was also inspired by Mr. Harold Senevirathne, an entertainment director who guided Rajeev to secure his place in Sri Lankan music. We had a short chat with Rajeev recently to know about his latest projects in the entertainment field and his current progress in the entertainment field. This was what he had to say.
Experts of the interview:
Q: Tell us what’s happening in your musical career these days.
Something totally new and different is happening. There were 3 milestones which I passed in the music industry and I ‘m really contented about it. In fact I have been having my hands full. I have done songs for veteran artistes including Corrine Almeida , I have composed quite a couple of songs , including ‘’Mage konde nethath inagawata ‘’ which became an instant hit. And while we‘re talking about evergreens, I did a couple of originals with the legendary Desmond Desilva and it was quite amazing!! I have associated with Desmond for a long time and I was invited by him to appear as a guest artiste for a concert in Kenya, which was a totally different atmosphere, I enjoyed every single minute of it!!
Q: How did you first enter the music field ? How did it all begin?
I had an uncle who was very much into music and cousins who played and performed vocals. They had a little band and a sound system too. So whenever we used to go for weddings and parties, they would entertain the audience, which kept me interested.
Q: You’re mostly known for doing cover versions of the late Clarence Wijewardene and even had to face even copyrights issues regarding that reason. What do you feel about that matter?
He was a great inspiration to me. He was one of the people who made me what I was today. He allowed me to see what was happening in the field and encouraged me to sing a couple of songs, but at that time I didn’t take it very seriously, since I was doing another job and was occupied with it. But later I thought that it was a better job rather than a 9-5 one. So destiny took me there. I was on the verge of leaving the island in 1999 but then Siri Sasngabo Corea invited me to do a couple of songs and get back on track. Therefore I accepted and kept on continuing.
Q: Whenever you perform his music, what is the response from the crowd?
At that time, people were quite amazed to see young musician singing oldies music, when Sam the man was dominating the scene. So people used to tell me, ‘’man you’re doing great ‘’. We came up in an era where there was only one radio channel to promote us , the SLBC , and we had less opportunities than the musicians who are in the scene today and it was a privilege to be recognized.
Q : What do you think of the Sri Lankan music industry nowadays?
We cannot blame anybody. The music scene is quite different from what it was those days, and there’s a lot of competition. And I feel quite sorry for the musicians nowadays because whenever they try to do something new they get harassed and criticized. There are so many channels now, and so many reality shows, and it’s quite impossible to find who are really talented!!
Q: What will be your advice for young musicians?
Be inspired by other people, especially senior artistes. Look at somebody and learn. They are popular and they came up with their hard work and talent. Do something mew, something significant, and something totally different. That makes you special. Even veteran artiste did cover versions. But remember whenever you’re doing a cover version it should be a tribute to the original song and you should respect it. You should be happy that you have done your part and be able to leave something for the industry.
Q: Any upcoming projects?
Yes. There are. Several projects are coming up, and In near future I hope to join veteran musician Sunil Perera, Nalin Perera and Chitral Somapala in doing a new song.
Q: What is your most unforgettable experience in your musical career?
My most important moment was when I managed to recreate recordings such as ‘Sihiwatanaya’ . I had two heroes and they are still heroes to me. I’m still working with the legendary Desmond De Silva and I have done a lot of recordings with him. As well as Desmond Rodrigo who now resides in in the US. So all these are fond memories.
Q: Looking back at your musical journey, how do you feel?
No regrets. I feel l very happy. I came up in my career from the Akasa kade to the Hilton Lobby which was the most prestigious lobby to perform at that time. There is a proper way to do what you do. Therefore I feel very happy and content.
Q: Finally, how would you describe yourself in a nutshell?
If I feel what I’m going to do is the correct thing, I do it. There are so many people whom got back on track and one fine day , people will talk about me , but that doesn’t really matter, because I’m happy with what I have done. I feel blessed and I know that god will help me to carry on and continue with my journey till the end.