The femme factor! | Daily News

The femme factor!

First female metal soloist in Sri Lanka - Shehara Jayathilake Napoleon

Being recognized as the first female metal soloist is a high honour in one’s perspective, and also a challenge in a mostly male dominated society and culture, which prevails especially in a country like Sri Lanka.

The International music scene includes quite a number of female soloists and bands such as Nightwish, Evanescence and Arch Enemy, (or even the Cranberries) but in

Sri Lanka, it’s a rare scene, also in heavy metal. Females entering the metal music scene may not be everyone’s cup of tea, though it will be approved by those who appreciate. Most individuals may look at it in different angles. Some might even say that ‘Heavy

Metal’ is not for women in the Sri Lankan context. In such an atmosphere, you may

not be able to wear tattoos, pierce your nose, wear highlights or leather jackets and boots

everywhere, but Shehara Jayathilake Napoleon is one of the Sri Lankan females who changed the trend and made a huge change by indirectly showing that women are capable of anything - even Heavy Metal!

Excerpts:

Q: Tell us about what you’re up to these days.

I’m mostly focusing on aspects of my life that need improvement right now. I’ve been working on teaching my kids, improving my designing skills, practicing, a bit of gardening, fitness and plans to improve the online store for Sh3hara, the e-store for Sri Lankan Music.

I’ve also been working on new music and music videos.

Q: How would you describe yourself?

I feel blessed to have the ability to recognize my weaknesses and to be somewhat aware about myself to understand what needs to change.

I’m not perfect.

I believe conquering my inner demons is very important. I love nature and music.

And I‘m empowered by hardworking and genuinely kind people who believe just as much as I in never giving up!

Q: What inspired you to select heavy metal music in the first place?

I have always been a huge fan of great music. That’s one trait I got to unlock as a kid because of the exposure to various genres of music my Dad played loud on his setup.

Maybe that’s what opened my ears to Metal and made it easier for me to understand it while others see it as noise and distortion.

I Love all kinds of Music but, I’ll choose Metal any day because I can’t think of a band or artist from any other genre that plays as amazingly or writes lyrics that completely shatter my pain and make me whole with a complete song or album.

Q: What were the challenges which you had to face when you first entered the heavy metal scene, especially as a female?

Personally, it was an inner challenge to confidently approach others and ask for their help to progress because I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I felt like people wouldn’t take me seriously because I was just a little girl. Sure, it was cool to be a girl in the industry but, I felt like I wasn’t as good as I’d like to be so, it took years of experience, trial and error and lots of practice to be able to believe in myself and just be confident in my own decisions. When I put aside validation for personal development and happiness, it opened a lot of doors for me and brought the right people into my life.

Q: You are the only female heavy metal artiste to release an album in Sri Lanka. How do you feel?

I feel blessed and driven.

Q: The International scene has several female lead singers such as in Arch Enemy, Night wish and Evanescence. How would you think being a female vocalist in a mostly male dominated industry would empower all women?

Firstly, I think it reassures other women that entering the industry is possible for anyone! And secondly, I think it shows them a way things can be done as a woman in the industry or even how things shouldn’t be done.

Q: What were the bands which inspired you to select Heavy Metal?

Metallica for sure. Iron Maiden, Dream Theatre, Dragonforce, Nightwish, Pantera and last but certainly not least, Stigmata.

Q: What are the themes which you mostly take to write your songs? Do they include personal experiences too?

The base is always a personal experience or belief and the lyrics revolve around self-reflection, empathy, addressing a problem and transcendence.

As a creative I’m happy to say that when I write music, things I’ve read, watched and listened to, every artwork, design, person, scientific theory and pattern in nature gets activated in my mind. I love that certain things have definitely influenced me and that I’ve absorbed the parts that I think are truly beautiful and good. They make me who I am and that reflects in the music I write.

Q: Do you see any changes in the metal music scene when you first approached it?

Most definitely, yes! We have more people supporting the scene and individuals who are working hard to develop every aspect - from gigs to sound, to promotions and digital sales. The Bands have more knowledge on sound and equipment which has resulted in a range of versatile and unique sounds and better recordings. And thanks to social media, fans and musicians have a better way to connect with each other, especially during times like this when we can’t play gigs and meet them in person.

Q: How did you form your band?

Rewan Jayatilaka who is also my brother was helping me out with Tenny for acoustic shows before the full band came together. Izzy Wildchild was one of my producers for the Album and I’m super glad they joined the band because they knew the songs well and I feel comfortable working with them.

Ash Lanthra was recommended to me by a very close friend when I was looking for musicians for a full band to play the Album Launch concert and when he joined us on drums at the first practice, I knew he was The One.

When Dimitri joined us on Bass, I Loved his vibe and how he and I are somewhere near the same frequency. I also like that we can openly talk about and understand the importance of a positive mindframe.

We played our first gig together, which was the launch concert and have been playing shows, recording music videos and writing new music since.

It may sound funny but in 2019, I asked The Universe to bring the right people into my life and things started falling into place accordingly. It’s a blessing to have them all in the band, They are all amazing, driven and talented guys.

Q: How did your family support you after you decided to select Heavy Metal?

I think it wasn’t as hard for me as it is for most kids in Metal because I listened to various sub genres of Metal. I listened to everything from Extreme Metal to very Melodic instrumentals when my parents were around and I think the mix of it all warmed them up to the genre as a whole. The fact they have music running in their veins too really helped a lot. My mom eagerly listened when I used to point out cool drum patterns and my dad has always been a huge fan of Rock and Metal too.

Q: You are also involved in your profession as a Graphics Designer. How do you manage to balance all this with your music career?

On the technical side of it, I suppose it’s easier because both involve technology.

And in a creative sense, I love both because I get to keep being creative and learn new things all the time. It makes my life so much better so, it’s more of prioritizing the work and also making room for music.

Q: Looking back at your musical journey, how do you feel?

Grateful. I feel blessed to have been guided and supported throughout the years.

Q: Any albums coming up in future?

Definitely. Watch out for our second album!

Catch Shehara online with www.Sheharamusic.com or @shehara.official on Instagram.

Pictures by Shameem Ismail and Praveen Mirando