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Sunday, 16 February 2014

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'Know your music to be a success'

Success is a strange word, a lot of people interpret it differently. To Shawn Corera success is happiness doing what you want to do. Shawn was in Sri Lanka recently for a short holiday and to renew his family ties. When he left Sri Lanka in 2002 he was deejaying at A Museum which he enjoyed thoroughly as he was into music, was more or less addicted to spinning vinyls for the pleasure of others.

Music was in his blood, quite naturally, since his father is the well known and exciting Sri Lankan percussionist Clarence Corera whose artistry was lost to us, when he decided to leave for the States. Now in Washington, Shawn is the Resident DJ for DC Clubbing & Panorama Washington DC, and as he tells us he plays at many clubs around the greater Washington DC. What's more he is in great demand to provide the music for many Sri Lankan weddings in Washington DC, New York and other states. "This way I'm in touch with Sri Lanka and I look forward to it", said Shawn.


Shawn Corera.

Question: When you left Sri Lanka in 2002 and went to Washington in the States, were you vary about making a break into regular deejaying in a new country?

Answer: When I went in I wasn't focussing on deejaying. I never knew that I could get to where I am today. At the outset I handled private parties, events, a few clubs locally and made my way up from there. Word of mouth from managements and promoters took me a long way. Five years later after I went into Washington, a DJ competition was held at which they were closing the first 50 best DJs in Washington. I took part in that competition and was chosen as one of the 50. The event was hosted by Panorama Productions and DC Clubbing, one of the premier event companies in Washington DC. They also officiated with Glow which is a world wide knowns electronic dance music company. Winning that first 50 made me become one of their resident DJs and I am now a resident DJ in most of their clubs.

Q: You will agree that the trend today is to produce your own tracks, what they call inventive music. Have you done your own productions.

A: Yes, I do my own productions as mash pre-mix productions. To explain. I take a vocal acapella from another track and add a different beat to it and we call it a mash of pre-mix. Once we play these mash of pre-mixes at the clubs the crowd reaction is surprising. Their energy is high and there is a demand for this kind of music. So we take these tracks put them together and mash it up.

Q: What type of music is being played now in the Clubs. Is it underground, house, break what?

A: Looking at global trends, everyone is into EDM - electronic dance music and when you say house there are different types of house music - the deep, Progressive and all that. The younger generation today is totally into EDM - house mix. In Washington DC there is another sector which we call urban music, which is hip hop. In New York there is a different set of dancers who don't like EDM, they focus on hip hop and urban.

There are separate clubs for this genre of music. The other clubs play open formats. So the dancers automatically get divided. Those who want urban they go to the urban club and those who prefer an open format and house music, they choose the respective clubs playing this genre of music.

Q: What is your format and what's the style that's influencing you now?

A: I like the open format and my favourite genre is house music, as it is more energetic. Where the re-mix mash up is concerned, I like this genre.

Q: They say that deep house is now a popular style in music with DJs and the dancers, how far is this applicable?

A: Deep house is popular but looking at it clinically you cannot play deep house to a crowd that's wanting energetic music. Usually we open the room with deep house music - chilled deep house mix and then we move on to energetic music or any of the Top 40 which is re-mixed with the house beat and keep the hot tempo going, until closing time.


Shawn Corera.

Q: Now that you have gone to Washington and experienced the style of deejaying, is there a big difference between our Sri Lankan deejaying and the Washington style?

A: In the years before I left Sri Lanka, we used to do the basic - mixing one song into another. When I went to Washington I was influenced by the other DJs. I went around watched and picked up styles from other DJs. Finally I thought why am I doing the same thing that the other DJs are doing? I created my own style. My style now is, I don't mix one song into another.

I don't let the song play for the whole five minutes. The reason being I want to be more of an entertainer while deejaying. I mix in and mix out real quick with vocal acapellas, put down more stops and beats which keeps the energy of the dancers going.

Q: In other countries, clubs invite amateur talent to come in and learn deejaying. Does it happen at the clubs you work?

A: There are many DJ academies that have come up in the local area and youngsters ranging from 10 to 13 years are into deejaying. They want to learn because they are influenced by the big producers like Afro Jack, Avicci.

They like to learn producing as well. But as far as deejaying is concerned it's not easy as you think. You have to have a soul for it and you have to know your music. Today in the music world everyone is clamouring to be a DJ. But it is tough. You have to know your music to be a success.

Q: Did you have the opportunity to work with big names in the industry?

A: I have worked with Afro Jack who is a cool guy. I had the opportunity to open the concert room in 2009 for Black Eyed Peas at the Verizon Centre, Washington DC.

Q: What does the future hold for you with regard to your deejaying?

A: I hope to do some good productions and be recognised for it. Besides I'm also involved in lighting. My company is Groove Lighting Productions and I want to take it to the next level to be able to handle big concerts. For special events there is a big demand for mood lighting which is based on a theme colour and a special atmosphere is created.

The other is the high tech lighting for the dance floor which includes the setting up of moving heads and laser. But mainly the popular one is mood lighting. It's amazing how far lighting has advanced in today's world, so much so it's unbelievable!

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