Shafraz - We Are Living in a World of Nepotism (Sri Lanka Based Singer)


 I used to work for 18 hours a day standing at that age while I look at boys in my age either studying or enjoying life and use to wonder why do I go through this hardship, but today I am proud to have gone through difficult times because I have an identity of my own instead of being under someone's umbrella

Tell us more about your background and journey.

I'm from the most beautiful Island called Srilanka. I have just one sibling who lives in Srilanka along with my parents. I have completed my Masters in Business Administration from the United Kingdom couple of years back. I first started working as a Cashier in a five-star hotel in Dubai at the age of 17. I have been working since then and worked very hard in life for where I am today.

I used to work for 18 hours a day standing at that age while I look at boys in my age either studying or enjoying life and use to wonder why do I go through this hardship, but today I am proud to have gone through difficult times because I have an identity of my own instead of being under someone's umbrella. The same applies to my children and family members who should have their own identity and respect for who they are and not for where they come from. 

Well, I have worked in many places but I currently work for a Private Firm affiliated with Hamad International Airport in Qatar as an Operations Manager and it's been almost 10 years since I've moved to Doha. Before I moved to Doha I worked for HSBC as an Assistant Manager for almost 7 years. Married Mahdiya Farook, the most amazing woman I met in life who parallely has built her own set of audience worldwide for her amazing works related to women empowerment and social media influencing.

When did you first decide you wanted to pursue music or singing and how did you start?

Well, I always had a liking towards singing and acting but never thought I would enter into the showbiz industry until I met a friend of mine back in 2004 who insisted me to sing and he would produce the music. It all started there was a fun activity during spare time turned upside down when the radio stations (only mode of audio in 2004 in Sri Lanka) started playing our song and I went crazy with the response I got. 

That's when I decided to reach a bigger audience with a Music Video. Since then I had an interest in working with newcomers or the first-timers IF talented. Then I met 2 Directors who wanted their first break as well just like me and came up with our first Music video which was widely accepted in the Mass crowd of Srilanka. There was no Facebook, Instagram or even Youtube If I remember well or probably it wasn't popular as of now. 

So the reach we used to have at that point was Organic and purely based on people's choice, not through marketing or any kind of paid boosts.

Can you throw some light on opportunities one gets as a singer?

We are living in a world of Nepotism and surviving in this world with your own identity is the most difficult task. I still remember the struggle I had to go through where I used to stand outside radio and TV stations just to wait till a Producer of TV or Radio show walks out to hand him over my Audio or Video. 

Srilankan music Industry was controlled by a Mafia who never let newcomers rise and shine any TV channel you watch during that period it was always this particular set of Artists or their siblings or some way related to them who appears in all shows. 

With so much grief and Zero support from anyone, I didn't know what to do next. That's when I received a phone call from one of the senior female singers in Srilanka who wished me for what I did and expressed her interest to sing a song with me and that's when I realised apart from the Mafia few good people in the industry let people rise within their capacity. 

Then onwards things changed for me dramatically, the people who turned their faces away from me started calling me and every channel started inviting me for TV shows and Radio. What I understood is that regardless of who controls the industry or Nepotism playing Havoc once you are accepted by people then there's no stopping. In a nutshell "WE CREATE OPPORTUNITIES"

What are the skills required to be a radio presenter?

Knowledge of the content you are presenting and how much you enjoy talking. I first presented a radio show for a channel in Srilanka back in 2008 and I remember how casually we used to enjoy those sessions. But the whole trend has now changed into social media but however, I strongly believe Radio is still one key media which people accept and acknowledge. 

I currently host a show called "ShafraZ on Air" in the first and only Srilankan Radio channel in Qatar. The reason I say only is that this is the only channel with frequency modulation (FM) for a Srilankan network, the remaining ones are either web-based or social media-based.

What makes a person connect with their audience as a radio presenter?

For me personally, it's two reasons. Either you are humorous on Air or you talk the same with fans when you meet them personally and when the word of mouth spreads about your personality and how humble you are they start listening to you. 

I have come back to the industry after a break of 10 years plus and I'm honoured to be accepted into both industries. I am not the type who talks friendly and humble on TV or Radio but ignores my fans when they approach me on any platforms.

Is formal training required (in singing or radio presenter) or can one train themselves purely based on talent?

It works in every way you just asked me. Either you are trained or purely go with talent. But the majority who are in the showbiz industry are for their talent. But we are still among people who came through Nepotism, Influence or any other recommendations who are neither trained nor talented.

What are you currently up to in the music industry?

Well, I have just released an Original called "Vaalkai Poriley" to the International Market featuring one of India's and A.R Rahman's lead playback singer Shweta Mohan. The song was penned by Ansaf Ameer, Music by Kavishka Dombawela(K2), Video by Rocky Gracian @ Whiterock studios and the project was Produced by Mahdiya Farook. This was released on my youtube channel and is currently doing great with positive feedback from the audience.

I have already recorded another track featuring ADK (magudi and showkali fame of A.R Rahman's music) and another female lead which I will announce soon. I have a strong feeling this project is going to amaze you all.

My vision is to reach the Global Audience as an independent artist who connects communities through different Genres of Music. I hope to introduce many newcomers to the industry. If you are talented don't hesitate to reach out to me on my below platforms. I will support you where I can!

Interviewed by - Saba Parveen

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