KK wins the day!

Saturday, 2 November 2013 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The ‘Best Female Artiste’ of first-ever Yes Home Grown Awards shares her story with the Weekend FT She has always been a superstar in the making. From her days of putting on shows for her family with her niece Yasara sharing the limelight while her younger sister was pushed to the sidelines and her little nephew was ordered to dance to the tunes of the ‘superstar’ duo, Kaushalya Fonseka Mark – better known as KK among those who have a penchant for homegrown talent – has always dreamt of owning the stage, creating an uproar and healing souls through music. Now living in Australia, KK made her way back home to partake in the award presentation of her first song getting nominated at the first-ever Yes Home Grown Awards under the ‘Best Female Artiste’ category, not with 100% confidence of taking home the title, but with pure excitement and elation. Later on at the event held last Sunday at Stein Studios, Ratmalana, KK was all smiles and tears as she mumbled her thanks and got off stage, clutching her award to her heart, big-eyed in surprise. Giving her a few days to catch her breath and accept that her song ‘How It’s Done’ is a proven success, a beaming KK joined the Weekend FT to share her journey so far. Following are excerpts of the interview:   By Cheranka Mendis     Q: How did it feel when you heard your name being announced as ‘Best Female Artiste’? A: I wasn’t expecting it at all; plus we were seated right in the middle and from where I sat I saw the likes of Natasha Rathnayake and Ashanthi sitting right in front and accepting the first few awards that were given that night. I thought it made sense for us to sit where we were, because winning did not seem a big possibility given the other artistes who were in the category I was nominated for. So when they said my name, there was a bit of happy, surprised confusion. Sohan, Maxi and Raj who were giving out the award meant to say my name together but when they did say it, it came across as somewhat of an echo. I remember looking at my niece and asking if I heard right and then got up and tripped. It was very embarrassing. And like I said, I wasn’t expecting to win so I did not have a speech ready and I started crying when I got the award. I thanked ma, my uncle and Yasara and got off stage, overwhelmed. I must have seemed a very ungrateful person. I really wanted to say something.   Q: Given the chance what would you say? A: I would thank Saranga Dinesh for producing it. My husband for pushing me forward to get it recorded finally (along with Yasara) because I usually write my music at home and record it on my phone. The only exposure I give them is when I show it to all my friends who come over. Also, my friends and family for supporting me throughout.     Q: The song that you won the award for, what is the story behind it? A: The song is ‘How It’s Done’ and it is about relationships that eventually die out; where you feel like you’re the victim because it died out without exposure so you are left wondering what happened.     Q: What was your introduction into the field of music? A: When I was a kid and was living with my dad, we had a grand piano and my dad used to play a little by ear and eventually I started as well, playing by ear. I was pretty good and my father decided to hone my talents and enrolled me in a music class. That didn’t work out too well because I wanted to play the piano in a manner that was comfortable to me, which unfortunately was not the proper way of playing. My teacher, Ms. Antoinette, really tried hard to get me on track, right up to my A/Ls by giving additional lessons after classes, etc. It was somehow not a success. In school (Bishop’s College), my niece and I along with my best friend formed an all-girls band. We had seven in the band, which included a drummer, a pianist, a girl who played sitar and four of us singing. We were called the ‘Civets’ and we had a lot of fun.     Q: What was your aspiration as a kid? A: A singer, obviously. I used to have those scrapbooks with all the song lyrics pasted in them, partly because everyone in school did that. But what kind of a singer would I be if I didn’t have that!? I used to also have shows for my dad and when my niece came home we used to put on shows for our family. We got our kid nephew to come dance for us, and the younger sister was on the side. My niece and I were the stars.     Q: What was your exposure in professional singing? A: Just as I was leaving school I got the opportunity to join Warren and Rozette in their band RMC. We all wore the same outfits and it was fun. It was here that I learnt a lot about harmonising and discipline as we had to be on time, etc. However, I soon got bored of the nightlife because we sang from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. This was around the same time I started studying business management and it was very hard to cope with the hours since I had classes at 9 a.m. and as a result had to miss a lot of lessons. So I had to choose to concentrate on one and I chose to finish my studies. I was also in Oman for a brief spell and there too managed to sing as part of a band, it was very different to singing in Sri Lanka.     Q: Why did you decide to go to Australia? A:  After Oman, I came back and was working at Maharaja for Yes FM. I handled a lot of event management and I absolutely loved it. While I had the option to stay back and further my career, I wanted to learn more about this subject. So I went to Melbourne to study event management in 2008. When I went there, it was the typical student life – couldn’t afford anything. Having grown up with pianos around me with both my parents having them at home, I really missed it while I was away. I begged my husband for one and for Christmas, he gifted me a piano keyboard. This got me started again.     Q: Any more songs in the pipeline? A: Inclusive of what I won for, I have released two songs so far. The second one ‘One More Time’ was not as successful as the first. People love drama and heartbreak, the minute you write about finding love, people seem disinterested. The second song was also produced in Australia. However, I do have a few more songs written and I will record them when I go back.     Q: Living in Australia, how did you get your song playing here? A: Yes FM had submissions for local artistes and I sent in mine. Yazmin and Ramzi really liked the song and put it into the charts the next week itself. The song went up to number seven from 15 and played in the charts for close to two months and then my song got nominated. They were really secretive about it. I wasn’t given any indication of winning. I’m glad I did because if I didn’t, I would have missed out on the biggest thing in my life so far.     Q: Have you won anything previously for your singing? A: I have come second place in inter-house singing competitions in school.     Q: Why go by the name KK? A: When we were in school, my younger sister refused to call me Kaushi akki in front of others and came up with ‘KK.’ It had a certain ring to and it stuck around. Also, when I went to Melbourne my sister and I were working at the same place and she introduced me as KK to our colleagues. KK was an easier name to pronounce than Kaushalya, which everyone kept getting confused for Natalya and even Cassandra. But for me, KK stands for the initials of the first and last letters of my name – Kaushalya Fonseka Mark.     Q: What sort of music do you like to listen to? A: The music I listen to is nothing like what I sing and write. I love Beyonce and listen to a lot of Rihanna, and Emeli Sande. Alicia Keys is my all-time ‘it girl’. I am going to see her perform in December and I can’t wait for it. I also like Boyz II Men, whom I got to see live last year. That was like going to church for me – there I was standing in the second row, in pure joy and awe. However, I listen to a lot of music, depending on the song and the mood. I love sad songs to be depressed over.     Q: What plans next? A: I have about eight songs written so far. I will be recording one before I go now. They all fall into the pretty sad category. But since that seems like the way to go, I intend on making a lot of money in the future.     Q: Who are your biggest supporters? A: My mum is my biggest supporter and my biggest promoter. She posts my songs about 10 times a week on Facebook! My close circle of friends, they know who they are – they are honest with me and critique when needed, which I think is the best form of friendship. My father has always pushed me to do better. I am one of those people who don’t take steps everyday to achieve my dreams. I need someone pushing me and my husband has been doing this all throughout. I am very grateful. I consider my two sisters as my second and third biggest fans; they have promised to bring lighters when I perform one day. My niece Yasara, my friends and family who have come forward to do a lot of free stuff for me – my niece organised the music video, my brother Damith Fonseka for helping with picture boards, etc. and SJ Design Studio for taking my photographs. I am also thankful to Yazmin and Ramzi for picking my song, airing it and supporting my music. Pix by Lasantha Kumara