Nov 28 2022. views 85
Dubbed the Metal Maiden of Sri Lanka, Shehara Jayatilaka Napoleon is Sri Lanka’s first female metal soloist and the only female metal artiste to release a metal album; Fountain of Memory, which was launched back in 2019. With the hugely successful release of her music videos for ‘Loved for Eternity’ and ‘Fidelity’, Shehera released the much-awaited music video for ‘B-RUN-CH’ in late October 2022.
The music video was made in collaboration with highly acclaimed Director, Videographer and Photographer Mike Zimmer (known well in the industry as ZimZimY) and reputed for the numerous TV and feature films under his belt, and most notably, his collaborations with Canadian extreme metal virtuoso Devin Townsend. We catch up with Shehara on her song B-RUN-CH, the BTS of her music video and being a metal artiste in Sri Lanka;
Q Congratulations on your new music video B-RUN-CH, tell us about it.
Thank you. B-RUN-CH is my means of addressing negativity and banishing it so nothing harms me, my family or loved ones. The lyrics, melodies, vocal arrangements and all vocals were by me, and Tennyson Napoleon helped me by writing and recording the music for it for my debut album Fountain of Memory which was released in 2019.
Q You mentioned that the lyrics are inspired by the negative thoughts that come up when life is grim and you wrote it as somewhat of an encouragement/affirmation to power through when it happens – any particular story behind those lyrics?
Yes, concisely put, B-RUN-CH is made up of two words, one of which is “RUN” and splits the other word in two. It is my version of a means to ward off evil from my life. Instead of hurting anyone in the real world, I just feel like expressing myself this way helps me get rid of some of the negative things that were brewing in my head. By doing so, I feel like something just changes within me. So, when writing B-RUN-CH, there were many things going wrong in my life. I found my mind automatically gravitating towards the abyss, wondering if I was cursed, if someone was wishing me ill and harm and if the reason things were so wrong in my life was that I was being manipulated. Writing the song really helped me gain back my power to claim ownership of my own life, and of my thoughts and actions and to also open my mind to what I’m capable of achieving, without being puppeteered.
Q B-RUN-CH is a part of your debut album Fountain of Memory, Sri Lanka’s first metal album by a female metal artist. Though the album was released back in 2019, you continue to make music for it even now.
Yes, the album took 4 years to make. B-RUN-CH is towards the end but not the last. Sometimes I feel like I’m over-promoting the album but, there are so many other things I need to get out of my system which I can only do through visuals and creative ideas, so there may be another video. Maybe two, but gradually and not by halting the new releases and new albums.
Q So, there is a new album and new music in the works?
Yes, and I’m so excited about it. I’ll be releasing a new single with Tennyson Napoleon in November. It’s called “I Would Never” and is about unconditional love bordering on a toxic relationship. The second album is also in the works and I’m waiting impatiently to complete songs and make videos for them. Please wish me luck!
Q Coming back to B-RUN-CH, the music video for the song is fantastic. I heard you’ve got a great team behind it.
I would have never imagined having one of my songs creatively expressed by someone as awesome as Zim ZimY. Nor having someone else direct a video for me actually. I’ve been directing and editing most of my previous work so, so this was really refreshing and it gave me space to really enjoy making a video, without having to think too much about the nitty gritty. It was also great filming a music video with Tai Hsin Shiek who I had previously only done photoshoots with. And of course, the guys in the band - Izzy, Ash, Rewan and Oshan who stepped in when Dimi got covid. It was fun watching them film the taunting scenes.
Q The music video for B-RUN-CH features Mike Zimmer, a.k.a Zim ZimY who shot his scenes for the video a continent away. How did it all come together?
Working with Zim was a dream. I had shared the Fidelity music video with him and he asked me if I’d like to make a music video for one of my songs with him. I mean, my eye twitched, my brain exploded and I obviously said yes. Zim’s ideas are unique, to say the least; I haven’t met or seen anyone who creatively does things the way he does. And I’m a sucker for uniqueness. All we had to do was film our scenes here in Sri Lanka following Zim’s guidelines. He shared notes and specifications on angles, lenses, backgrounds, and wardrobe ideas, along with references and got on a call to explain everything when we needed to plan and clarify things. He was so easy to work with which made the whole process honestly a breeze, overshadowing the fact that we were continents apart. Not once was the time difference an issue, and not once did he complain about anything. It was nothing but good vibes!
Q B-RUN-CH was released just in time for Halloween – which you mentioned as the perfect timing for the concept. The music video is very different to what you did with Loved for Eternity and Fidelity; it’s got somewhat of a late 90’s metal concept to it and the Naga Raksha dance performance links so well with Sri Lankan culture and the concept of keeping away evil. Was that the intention?
The concept for the video was all Zim’s idea. Everything from the colour grading to the scenes, the guys taunting him in the car to my backseat shots were all his ideas and the intention was perfect because otherwise, this song can sound a bit too serious. So I’m glad he translated the song into something fun and spooky without making it too evil or scary while sharing the main message, which is warding off evil as if it’s an average thing we all do in life, even while driving a car. It takes a genius to do that. The addition of the Naga Raksha dancer from Tenu Kala Piyasa was actually not in the plan initially, but I pitched it to Zim, and explained the connection between culture and warding off evil. He was interested, it was filmed well, the dancer was awesome and Zim kicked some major rear end with the footage we sent.
Q Finally, you’ve been a musician for nearly a decade and you are Sri Lanka’s first female metal soloist. you’ve seen how the community has grown over time. What’s been challenging about getting your music out to the listeners?
I think the Metal community is small. So, while songs like Loved for Eternity and Broken Wings will get instant likes and listens from almost everyone, songs and videos for heavier tracks like B-RUN-CH and Drown mostly grab the attention of those who’ve been exposed to Metal. The challenge in this sense is that songs and videos won’t have millions of views unlike if the song was a commercial or radio-friendly song. It’s the sad truth but, that also means that the numbers are true and it shows me the ones who believe in my journey as a Metal artist.
It’s challenging to plan, fund and expedite things as an independent artiste, and it’s even more challenging to depend on others to help but it’s all a learning curve and you gradually learn what works and what doesn’t. It’s important to know that. I may have a few regrets like letting my name be on tracks that weren’t well mixed and mastered and not putting my foot down because I didn’t want to hurt people’s feelings but, we all learn and move on right? And those experiences don’t make us or set our paths in stone. They just show us how to steer in the correct path the next time.
Pix Courtesy : Shehara Jayatilaka