The total budget of the video was Rs 250, just what it took to rent a light. Sanjeewa threw few of his clothes over it to diffuse the light to his liking. Sanjeewa, Dashmi and Panchala shot and uploaded their mashup under their studio DeepSounds’ banner. The YouTube video has been viewed a total of 120,764 and Facebook video 137,000 at the time of writing. It has been shared 2,832 times. So it’s safe to say that it’s going viral. The real beauty of Shape of You Sri Lankan mashup, as many on YouTube and Facebook also pointed out, is that no one had to strip in the video to get the attention of the audience.
Rather than just sing, they perform, albeit the result of much coercing in Dashmi’s case. She was extremely camera shy when she and Sanjeewa shot their first cover Sayure. There is a discernible difference, particularly in Dashmi when comparing their first cover and their most recent Shape of You Sri Lankan mashup. She has clearly come of age in showbiz.
Their Facebook wall and YouTube account are strewn with praise for Dashmi’s smile. The people are ‘in love with the smile of her’. “We had to make faces at her from behind the camera when we were shooting, to make her smile,” teases Panchala.
“After we uploaded people would go, ‘Wow you have cute dimples’ and I’d say ‘Wait, I have dimples’.” And Dashmi would have a quick rewind of the video just to make sure she had dimples. “All my life I’ve hated my smile. I used to think I smile like a horse,” laughs Dashmi.
Sanjeewa De Silva (26) and Panchala Fernando (25) met at music instructor Nilani Vaz’s class. They’ve been friends for seven years. Sanjeewa introduced Panchala to Dashmi Wijerathne (23) and the chemistry worked.
“Within a few minutes of uploading there were ten notifications, then 20. When I checked in the morning, there were some 50,000 views. And people were calling,” says an enthusiastic Panchala. Before long other Facebook pages like Bro, Ranidu, IRAJ, Inspire SriLankans, Hela Nada shared it on their walls. Obviously the trio never expected the mashup to be such a hit. “I actually got my friends to slap me on the face. I couldn’t believe it,” says Dashmi, still in awe.
The name DeepSounds was suggested by their music teacher Nilani Vaz, which fitted perfectly with Sanjeewa’s theme of all back. Sanjeewa hand built his all-black studio. He put up a wall, painted,
laid carpet and sound proofing panels all by himself. It was his sister’s room and he dreamt of converting it into a studio one day. At one time he was so broke he had to cycle 22 kilometres to and from Ratmalana every single day because he couldn’t afford the bus fare. “My sister passed away last month,” says a pensive Sanjeewa. “Maybe she’s the force pushing us on,” says Sanjeewa.
Sanjeewa went to Nalanda College, Colombo. The offspring of two engineers he is currently reading for his Masters in Construction Project Management at ICBT affiliated to Sheffield Hallam University.
“My mother is an electronic engineer and also a part time music teacher. My father was an electrical engineer and he was in a boy band,” says Sanjeewa. Although he could not read music, he was able to play the piano, his first music instrument, by ear at a young age. He got his first guitar at seven. He was also part of the school choir and recorder group. During his teenage he was the bane of his neighbours, playing loud music and screaming at the top of his lungs at odd hours.
Panchala is a St. Peter’s College Colombo, alumni. He was repeatedly asked to abandon all hopes of ever becoming a good singer. They said he couldn’t carry a tune if his life depended on it. But this didn’t dampen Panchala’s enthusiasm. He paid his friends so he could tag along with them for recordings at studios, just so he could get a taste of what it was like to become a professional. Panchala suffered from acute even debilitating stage fright as a kid, but watching him on the Shape of You Sri Lankan mashup his stage presence is undeniable.
Dashmi was always overshadowed by her accomplished sister, who also happened to be Sanjeew’s lecturer at ICBT. “She did so well in her studies, she got everything in her life right. I could never measure up to it.
This was sort of my break. This was one way I could make my parents happy. They got to see a side of me they never saw before,” says Dashmi. Being in the choir at Girls’ High School, Kandy helped Dashmi hone her vocal skills at an early age.
Making of the mashup
The mashup was Dashmi’s idea. They initially wanted to do a mashup of Shape of You and Ahankara Nagare. “This dragged on for months,” says Panchala. But two wasn’t their lucky number. They ran it through Dashmi’s musical sister who point black said that it was a no-go.
Panchala confided that none of it was planned. “We did a few takes singing sitting around, didn’t work.” Panchala suggested the split screen idea and it stuck. Sanjeewa is the brains behind the video editing, music production and mixing and mastering. They say their mentor was YouTube How-Tos. “How to this, how to that,” chuckles Sanjeewa. We tried out whatever came to our mind,” says Panchala, explaining the benefits of experimenting with likeminded people. Both Sanjeewa and Panchala have previously worked in bands. But it didn’t work, probably because they didn’t have the right chemistry.
Using songs of several languages was Dashmi’s idea. “More languages represent more people,” says Sanjeewa. “Besides, not many Sinhala people sing in Tamil.” The Tamil pronunciation being a little off seems irrelevant, after all it’s the effort that counts.
Perhaps the success of the mashup is in the way they play to their strengths; Dashmi on Spanish, Sanjeewa singing in Tamil and Panchala English. “The fact is that we didn’t know these were our strengths until we did the mashup,” says Dashmi, who mastered the Spanish in a matter of minutes. “I just observed the pronunciation patterns in Spanish.” Sanjeewa praised Dashmi’s attention to detail, saying that the skill made working with her all the more easier.
All the songs in the mashup complement each other because they are all upbeat, popular songs, sung to four chords. When asked whether any song can be sung to such a simple chord progression, Sanjeewa says that a song doesn’t have to be overly complicated to become popular. Some have commented that the mashup is like their childhood put together. When asked why they picked 90’s songs, Sanjeewa says that it was an attempt to change the people’s mindset.
“All we hear are bus songs,” says Sanjeewa. “And boot songs,” chimes in Dashmi. “Society can be influenced by the right kind of music. All the songs in the mashup are those that made a massive impact at the time they were released.”
In essence the Shape of You Sri Lankan mashup was an attempt to give a classy music deprived populace a taste of good music once again. But the real beauty of Shape of You Sri Lankan mashup, as many on YouTube and Facebook also pointed out, is that no one had to strip in the video to get the attention of the audience.
Pics by Sassanda Liyanarachchi