Today we are catching up with an award winning Hip –hop /Urban artist from Colombo, who won the ‘Best Rap performance’ in 2013 Derana music video awards for his debut ‘Crossroads’ with two other nominations for the best ‘Hip –Hop music video’, and the ‘Best music video edit’ categories. Known as ‘Spike’ in the music field, Manoj Jayawardene truly seems to have a ‘thing’ for Urban / hip –hop, and seems to spread those vibes wherever he goes. As one cool guy who knows his music, and a ‘Whizz Kid’, He has urban / hip –hop running in his veins for sure, and has a genuine passion for what he does.
Spike is a signature artist, producer, song writer, and a rapper, and has his own independent record label, Spike Universe /records.
Q: Tell us about your progress these days.
My first music performance as an artiste was back in 2006, where I performed at Nelumpokuna Theatre. That was my debut performance as Spike.
Q: Why did you take to Urban /Hip hop music?
I grew up listening to Pop, R&B, Hip-Hop and Rock Music in different stages of my life, and it was one hell of a musical journey. Later I was influenced by Trance and House Music which inspired me in a whole different way. I always wanted to bring elements from all these genres into my music whenever I could. I love the swing in Hip-Hop music, the emotional vocals in R&B, the fascinating synths in EDM music, and all the different elements of each genre. It makes me feel like an artist when I mix elements from all genres that inspires me. Understanding what I love as an individual and an artist made me create music in Urban and Hip-Hop genres.
Q: You also emerged as winner of the ‘Best rap performance’ for your performance at the Derana music video awards 2013 for “Crossroads”. How was that experience?
It was one of the best moments in my music career as an independent artist. I won an award for my debut release, and it was a massive achievement. Also ‘Crossroads’ was nominated in two other categories as the Best Music Video Edit and The Best Hip-Hop Video. The Music Video for ‘Crossroads’ was directed by MINAACUS. (Pamuditha Anjana, Pixel, Praveen Aasith, and Muvindu Binoy).
Q: And what were the challenges which you had to face as a newcomer?
As a newcomer, I didn’t have the luxury to learn music production or music knowledge on youtube. Youtube was not a thing in that era. We had to find information in different places such as buying magazines, knowledge gathered from talking to professionals, networking, or simply through trial and error. It was financially challenging to afford studios, and it took a while for me to get proper knowledge of the whole production process. Now when I think of it, it has been a fascinating experience.
A big shout-out to Milan Fernando, Ranga Dasanayake, and Kasun Kalhara for the love and support extended throughout these years.
Q: Tell us about your independent record label, SPIKEuniverse | Records, and also your recording studio.
As an independent artiste, I release my music through my independent label SPIKEuniverse | Records. NZO is also a part of the label, and he is a Producer and an artist himself. We are focusing on supporting upcoming artists who have talent and a great attitude towards the craft.
We have our own Recording/Production studio under the label, and we work on audio & video projects with other artists as well. Currently, we’re working on new music for THIMO, FATE89, and a few more upcoming artists.
The progress has been good, and we have new releases planned to be released soon. Also, we provide our services to corporate projects as well.
Q: How would you define the present international music field and also the local one?
The music industry is at a level where it has become one of the most influential career paths among the new generation. No other proof is needed to believe that this industry is ever-growing and won’t stop until the far end of the universe. Listeners’ choices have changed in many ways due to the availability of great music at your fingertips with streaming and downloading services. Music is now closer to everyone like never before.
It creates great opportunities as well as challenges. You can become an international sensation in a couple of days if you get yourself in the right spot. On the other hand, it has become more challenging for artists to retain the attention of their listeners among the massive competition.
With such opportunities and challenges, the music industry is a growing one. Internationally and locally. Considering the local music industry, many talented artists have emerged over the years. Some even reaching international recognition. It shows great potential in the local industry in the future.
Q: What are the messages which you try to convey through your music?
I always like to express good vibes through my music. I believe that music is very personal and we should treat it with love.
I talk about life, love, and my own experiences packed with stories through my music.
Q: Your singles have gained recognition worldwide. Do you think that your music is given due credit in the local hip hop music scene?
I am grateful that my music has reached international recognition on a small scale. I will be releasing more music, and I hope it’ll outreach a bigger audience.
My creation of music never is limited by the recognition received or the reach. I make music as it makes me happy and is a way of expressing myself. I always want to stay true to my music and keep making more and more.
Q: How has the pandemic situation affected you and the music field in general?
The pandemic has been a challenge for all of us and has affected musicians in an unsupportive way. It has been a slow period for me too. However, being positive, I had more time to work on new music and my upcoming releases.
There are pros and cons of the pandemic influence on the current situation in the industry. Musicians have restrictions on gigs, but most people are practicing social distancing thus have more time to listen to music online, generating more revenue on streams for artists.
Even though currently the music industry faces many challenges, I’m sure that the music business will have a big boost soon.
Q: How would you think both local and global music scene will function from now onwards?
With the pandemic, networking has mainly become online. Musicians have evolved from live concerts to virtual concerts where the performance is brought to the audience by the performers. It is the new way of the industry.
I believe that it creates more opportunities for artists to perform their music at the comfort of their studio or venue.
It is good to see that artists have started to use online platforms to perform their music in virtual concerts and performances. I’m sure people would start to like virtual concerts and performances with the changes in their usual routines due to the pandemic.
And when public performances are allowed again, people will love the option of experiencing both a virtual concert and a live concert. With the ability to create breathtaking virtual spaces, there will be so much to witness.
Q: Any future plans or aspirations?
I want to keep making more music. I would love to experiment with different vibes and inspirations. I have a catalog of music I’ve worked on for years, and there are dimes hidden in the stack. Also, I will be looking forward to working with new upcoming producers and artists, which will help me evolve as an artist. The plan is to keep ‘Dreaming BIG’ and keep doing what I love the most!