Her song has been trending worldwide from the time it released. The Manike Mage Hithe artist, Yohani, gained international recognition for her rendition of the popular Sri Lankan song that was an instant hit, topping all the chartbusters. The Sri Lankan singer-songwriter is currently exploring the music industry in India and is preparing to release her debut album, which is centered on women and their experiences.
1. How did you get inclined towards music and when did you start pursuing it as a career?
I started my musical journey when my parents enrolled me in piano class, which eventually led me to playing guitar as well. While pursuing my education, I also created a YouTube channel in 2016 and started doing occasional covers. After completing my masters in 2019, I decided to give music a serious try and returned to Sri Lanka from Australia. It was in 2021 that my song “Manike Mahe Hithe” became a hit.
2. Your music is a unique fusion of different genres. How do you come up with your original sound and what inspires you to create this type of music?
My inspiration comes from a diverse range of people whom I encounter during my travels to various countries and experience different cultures. I find it fascinating how each individual has a unique taste in music and their life stories inspire me. Currently, I am exploring the music and sounds of India. Though I am not a trained singer, I am constantly learning and striving to improve. Music is my passion and it allows me to express my thoughts to my audience.
3. You have collaborated with several artists from different countries. How do you approach collaborations, and what do you look for in a collaborator?
I tend to connect with artists and their music on a personal level. If a particular artist or song resonates with me and I find the beat or idea to be interesting, I would pursue it regardless of whether or not it appeals to a broader audience.
4. Your song “Manike Mage Hithe” became an instant viral sensation. How did you feel about the success of the song, and how has it changed your career?
“Manike Mahe Hithe” brought about a significant change in my life. While exploring the music industry in India, I met new people and realized the immense potential and opportunities available here. Although it wasn’t something I had planned on doing, I am grateful for this experience and have found India to be a wonderful place with amazing opportunities and people.
5. You have been vocal about mental health and body positivity. How do you use your platform as an artist to raise awareness about these issues, and what message do you hope to convey through your music?
Although my album was originally planned for release last year, it was postponed due to various issues. However, I intend to release it this year. The album is centered around women and is titled “Kella”, which means girl. It features stories from my personal experiences, those of my friends, and other people I know. Through my music, I have attempted to merge these stories and convey my thoughts on the subject. While I am not very proficient at speaking, I express myself through singing, which is my forte. In my opinion, promoting mental health and body positivity is crucial in every industry
6. You have a diverse fan base from different parts of the world. How do you connect with your fans, and what do you enjoy most about interacting with them?
I would say that at the moment, it is really difficult for me to connect with everybody unless it’s through music. However, I believe that what truly connects me with others is their stories and how I inspire them. It’s heart-warming to hear people of all ages, especially children, tell me that my story, music, and personality inspire them to improve their lives. This kind of connection is powerful and goes beyond just singing. I appreciate those stories and the people who shared them with me. It motivates me to keep going and I love my fans for that.
7. You are also a producer and a rapper. How do you balance these different roles, and what do you enjoy most about each one?
When I started my music journey, I wanted to try everything. I had the attitude of “let’s do it” no matter what it was. This desire to explore is what has been driving me, even though it is probably not a good idea. But, it just happens. I enjoy producing my own music, even though I am not a big producer. I like the entire production process, not just the music, but also the lyrics and the collaboration with others to come up with an idea, melody, tune, beat, and everything else. This journey of putting a product together is what I enjoy the most.
8. What are your plans for the future and what can your fans expect from you in the coming years?
My Sinhala album “Kella “is coming out this year with my main focus being on its release in the middle of this year. Additionally, I am working on some projects in Hindi. Plans for the concert are also on talks, probably around May or after that. I am excited about it. However, there are a lot of projects going on in India, and it’s taking time due to the language barrier. It takes time to figure things out. As for Hindi, I can make a conversation, but I can’t speak fluently yet. But that is what makes the process interesting.
9. What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who want to follow in your footsteps and make a career in the music industry?
As I always say, just learn and develop your skills. Try and learn everything. I’m not so sure if this is a good advice, but it worked for me. Just try everything and find out what you really like, because if you don’t try, you won’t know what you’re capable of. Keep learning though
10. Finally, what is the one message that you want your fans to take away from your music?
I just want them to get inspired. I make my music for my fans, of course. There’s nothing more I would like than for them to enjoy my music, be inspired by it, and really feel the emotions that I’m trying to convey through my singing.
11. You also recently released your new song ‘Chunari Mein Daag’ and you look very different in it, how was the whole experience along with Tony Kakkar and Ikka?
Chunari mein Daag was amazing. A completely new me! Shooting it was very interesting and I loved it because it was a very different experience to me as well. There was a lot of dancing involved and all together it was this beautiful video that was created and I love it. Tony and Ikka did an amazing job as well. They are really sweet people and were amazing to me. People like that in the whole process were really wonderful.