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From YouTube to the Stage: Meet Singer and Actor Diluckshan Jeyaratnam

Diluckshan Jeyaratnam was a musical theatre student in Denmark when the opportunity of a lifetime came knocking on his door. Already known for his YouTube covers of popular English and Tamil songs, Diluckshan has gone on to star in the lead role of Moses in the theatrical world premiere of The Prince of Egypt, and lend his vocals to a song in the hit Tamil film Podhuvaga Emmanasu Thangam.

Diluckshan recently sat down with TC to discuss his rise to fame and upcoming artistic projects.

 

TC: You’re a viral sensation. Your videos have been widely shared on social media and have amassed thousands of views. Tell us about how you first got involved with music.

Growing up my family had a band. My father played guitar, my mother sang, my sister played the keyboard and I played the drums. According to my parents, I always expressed an interest in drums and it would go on to become an outlet for me to express myself. At the same time, I always found myself randomly singing at home. One day my parents told me that I should practice singing for the band, and since then, I’ve just been singing ever since.

Over the years, my dad also encouraged me to learn other instruments. I fell in love with singing and playing the guitar. As I grew up, I kept going back to music as a hobby while going to university and pursuing a degree in multimedia studies. After completing my degree, I applied to jobs and grew frustrated with not finding opportunities in my field.

At that point I really reflected on what I wanted to do with my life and realized I wanted to see where music could take me. Around this time I was also involved in some amateur musical theatre productions. I decided to go back to school to pursue musical theatre and ended up auditioning for the The Danish National School of Performing Arts. Luckily, I was one of eight students selected for the program.

 

TC: You sing some very difficult carnatic pieces and play a number of instruments. Have you ever received training?

This is surprising to most people but I have never received training. I learned to sing carnatic songs solely by ear. Ever since I was little, I loved to imitate sounds and voices. Some of my earliest inspirations were singer Hariharan and composer A.R. Rahman. I really tried to mimic what they did. At the academy, I received professional training and vocal coaching but it was different from learning how to sing carnatic songs.

As for training on instruments, I have always had an interest in taking up different things. I would start off by just playing what made sense to me in terms of sounds. I’d try to imitate what I heard on the drum or guitar and trusted that what I was doing was right. Over the years, I became comfortable learning by ear and have gone on to teach myself other instruments like the bass, saxophone, Irish tin flute, the bongos, and piano.

TC: How did your parents react to you pursuing a career in the arts?

It actually wasn't a surprise to them when I made the decision. They told me they had sensed that this would become my path and were just waiting for me to make that realization on my own. My father always encouraged me to do something in music. While my mom has always been supportive, she’s also a bit more sensible minded and encouraged me to have a back-up plan — hence the Bachelor’s degree in multimedia. While I’m happy with my career choice, I’m also grateful that I pursued a degree as it has provided me with another transferable skill.

 

TC: You were cast in the lead role of Moses in the world premiere of The Prince of Egypt. That is major! Tell us about how this opportunity arose.

While completing my studies I was working at the local theatre. The creative producer reached out and said there was a big production that I should audition for. A few weeks before the audition he told me the name of the show and I was surprised to learn that it was the world premiere of The Prince of Egypt.

As I was still in school I decided to do a video audition. I remember feeling so overwhelmed in the moments leading up to it. Luckily, the audition went amazingly. As I gathered my things to leave the filming room, the creative producer at my theatre told me to wait a few minutes. When he returned, he told me that I had landed the lead role of Moses. I literally fell to my knees. I still had six months of school at the time but landed a major role in a world premiere! It was a great moment.

 

TC: In the Prince of Egypt you worked with legendary composer Stephen Schwartz who has written songs for the hit musical Wicked and a number of successful films. What was it like working with him?

I have always imagined what it would be like to work with a legend like Stephen Schwartz. The fact that I was working on new material with him for The Prince of Egypt was both nerve racking and exciting. I had definitely always had the dream of working with such talent and I could have never dreamed that it would be so soon in my career.

 

TC: You recently released music for the film Podhuvaga Emmanasu Thangam. Tell us about how that happened. Do you hope to be involved in more Tamil cinema in the future?

It all began with D. Imman contacting me. He said he liked my YouTube covers and wanted to see if I’d be interested in singing vocals for a song. He sent me a demo, and I admit that I was a bit skeptical that my voice would suit the record. When I listened to it and saw that it was a fit, I immediately told him that I wanted to do it. He asked if I could fly to India but it wasn’t possible as I was still in school.

I then proposed recording my vocals at my home studio and sending it over to him. He agreed to this process and we started a back and forth of me sending him recordings and him sending me notes. On the third exchange we were both happy with the product and he played the track for the film's producers. He called me immediately when he got their approval and I was thrilled. Since then, we have kept in touch and he has been open to sharing songs that he’d like me to work on in the future.

I’d definitely love to do more playback singing in the future but I want to make sure it’s right and worth doing. I don’t want to do things just to do them. I want to work on projects that I can be proud of. I’d love to do more but it will come down to finding another right fit.

 

TC: You’ve become a double threat as an actor and singer. Which do you prefer doing?

I’d say singing if I had to choose one. However, I’ve always had a passion for combing the two. Ever since I went to art school and saw the two combined in musical theatre I fell in love with it.

TC: What other projects do you have in the works?

In terms of theatre, I’m currently working on a musical production of Tarzan. We are in rehearsals at the moment and plan to open next month. After that, I'm doing a musical called Urinetown and in the summer of 2019 I’ll be doing The Prince of Egypt again in Copenhagen. For the next little while I’ll be busy with musical theatre.

As for music, I have a few upcoming concerts in Denmark with a symphony orchestra. I recently sang with them and it was amazing.

I also have my own project in the works. I did a Tamil feature film five years ago that received a lot of acclaim. Since then, I’ve been working on a sitcom called Komali. It’s inspired by a sitcom we have in Denmark named Klovn. The characters act out true events that have happened to them and it’s hilarious. In Komali, my friends and I play ourselves and attempt to spice up moments that have really happened to us. Our pilot has been released and we’re working on getting a second episode out soon.

 

TC: Who are some of your artistic inspirations?

I’d definitely credit my boss Soren as a mentor. He was one of my vocal coaches in school and was the one who got me in touch with The Prince of Egypt production. Obviously my parents have been a great support, but Soren made me realize that I had all this potential that I never knew myself. He made me realize that I offer something unique and if I really wanted to pursue things I could go places.

I never thought that I would work on a huge production like The Prince of Egypt and get to work in the U.S. but he was the one who saw that I could. He’s been a great source of inspiration and has always guided me on the right track.


If you are interested in learning more about Diluckshan Jeyaratnam and his many projects, check out diluckshanofficial.com.

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Tanya Yoganathan
Oct 04 • Toronto

Best. Artist. Ever!

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