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London's R&B Sensation: Arjun

Arjun Coomaraswamy is an aspiring R&B/pop artist from London, UK. Arjun is a man of many talents: he not only sings but also writes and produces his own music, music for others, plays an array of instruments and studied music production and sound engineering at Point Blank Music College in London.

Arjun Coomaraswamy is an aspiring R&B/pop artist from London, UK. Arjun is a man of many talents: he not only sings but also writes and produces his own music, music for others, plays an array of instruments and studied music production and sound engineering at Point Blank Music College in London.

Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Arjun moved to the UK when he was four years old. His inspiration to play music came from his family. “My mom plays the piano as well and they always played a lot of music in the house,” said Arjun. He grew up listening to western music, but he has always been open to Hindi, Bollywood, and Tamil music.

Arjun first got into playing instruments around the age of four. He learned to play the piano, guitar, saxophone, and the drums. It was in his late teen years when he started to take an interest in singing. His favourite genre of music is R&B and urban music, specifically late 90s R&B—such as Donell Jones.

“I started off as a producer actually, so my initial phases in the industry were writing and producing other artists,” said Arjun.

When he was in university at the age of 19, Arjun entered a regional talent show and won. Impressed with his performance, his friends encouraged him to pursue a music career. From then on he started to do gigs and sing at university shows.

In August of 2010 Arjun released his first single on iTunes, Remember Tonight.

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Arjun has been making quite the mark in the music industry; some of his notable success thus far includes, being nominated for Best Newcomer at the Brit Asia Awards, 2011. His second single Stargazer reached 26th on the BBC Official Asian Download Chart. Stargazer also reached #2 on the Buzz Asia Radio Chart.

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One of many artists who Arjun has worked with is Shivali. He produced Shivali’s album The Bhajan Project, which reached #10 on the iTunes World Music Chart. At the Globe Indian Music Awards, 2011 (GIMA) The Bhajan Project was also nominated for Best Fusion Album and Best Debut.

Arjun has had the privilege of gaining mainstream fame recently. With his single Kabhi Kabhi, which is a remake of a song originally sung by Mukesh, becoming so popular. His songs can be heard on MTV and BBC Radio 1.

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Like any artist there are tough challenges Arjun has endured while achieving his dream. “The main thing I found difficult is that in the UK being an Asian artist, making R&B. Basically what it is, it’s a brown guy making black music for a white audience,” said Arjun.

Arjun explained that there isn’t a big R&B music scene in the UK, as popular genres include rock and dance music. In addition, with many of the youngsters in the Asian community listening to Bhangra and Bollywood music there isn’t a lot of room for artists like him.

However, it isn’t impossible for an artist who may not be mainstream to make it big. According to Arjun, rising UK artists like Mumzy and Jay Sean, who is known worldwide now, are examples of success stories. What sets Arjun apart from fellow artists is his passion for knowledge in the music industry.

“Production I think is the most challenging part,” said Arjun. He goes on to explain that there is a lack of appreciation for producers in contrast to artists. “Who makes the music? A producer,” said Arjun.

With his production and sound engineering education behind him, Arjun understands all the work that goes into making an album and a single. According to Arjun, he is a producer first then an artist. When he puts a song together he is not single-minded—he’s thinking of how it will be produced, what instruments would be used and what sounds best lyrically all at the same time.

Fans can look forward to Arjun’s upcoming album, which will be released February 2012.

- Raman Nijjar

Images courtesy of Arjun's Facebook page.

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