The J.J Twins………strumming our hearts with their music
By Sunali Fernando
Emerging voices of rhythm, let us introduce you today Julian and Jason Prins, twins from the lineage of yesteryear's keyboard maestro Peter Prins who of course needs no introduction to the world of music. Julian and Jason bring to the world of music a fusion of genres which emerge as their own unique style, often reminiscent of the vocal wizardry of great such as Everley Brothers and show very positive promise of fast developing into a sensational Sri Lankan musical combine.
Q. Tell us a bit about yourselves?
Jason: I'm Jason and my brother is Julian and we are the J.J. Twins. We come from a musical family background. Peter Prins was a musician in Sri Lanka and his son was a drummer. So we come from that line. We do music as a full time job.
Q. When did you start your musical journey?
Jason: We started writing music when we were 10 years old. Our first public performance was when we were 9 with a band called 'Damage' at Waters Edge. After leaving school in 2012, we started playing music and singing as a full time job.
Q. What inspired you to take up music?
Julian: We loved music since we were kids. So it was like a calling. However there are few artists who influenced and inspired us. The musician who inspired us mainly was Akon. We were influenced by other international musicians such as Backstreet Boys, Westlife and such 90s music groups. We grew up listening to them so we imitated their style. Then we started imitating Akon and adopting his style into our music.
Q. What are the genres that you sing?
Jason: We usually do Pop, R&B, Hip Hop and ….. So those are the main genres that we focus on.
Q. Do you also play musical instruments?
Julian: Yes we both play the guitar.
Q. You are famous for your covers, but have you also done any original songs?
Jason: Yes. We have written over 30 originals. We include them at our live performances.
Q. How do you promote your music?
Julian: We promote it through social media and live performances.
Q. You have been in the music industry for quite some time now. What have been your achievements so far?
Julian: We won our first award in 2015 at a competition called Friends In Action We became all-island winners for Performing Arts in Sri Lanka in 2013 and 2014. We were also featured in a book called 'Heritage of Songs'. It includes all the old musicians in Sri Lanka and we were the only young musicians to be featured in it. It was launched in Sri Lanka as well as in Australia.
Q. Does being a newbie full time musician have affected you financially?
Jason: when we were in the training process, we were not getting many gigs. Actually this year was our breakthrough. And it's all about how you manage your money as well.
Q. What are your thoughts on the Lankan music industry? Is it hard or easy to survive out there?
Jason: It is difficult, but of you work hard towards your goal you can make it work. However if you are doing English songs in Sri Lanka, it's a bit difficult to break through to the industry when compared to doing Sinhala songs. Yet again it's all about your effort and dedication for your music, if you get caught up in other things, it will be hard to survive. If you pursue music as a full time career, you can be successful in the industry.
Q. Have you faced any challenges in the music industry?
Julian: Yes, as we sing only in English it's a bit challenging because only the English speaking crowd gets to hear us. Sometime people come up to us offering us help, but at the end of the day they are nowhere to be found. There is not much opportunity for English songs in the Sri Lankan music industry. Our aim is to become international singers. However before getting to that platform, we have to gain recognition in Sri Lanka. So it is challenging, yet we have come a long way from where we were to where we are now. So with hard work and dedication you can overcome any obstacles and achieve your goal.
Q. How about the support from the people in the industry?
Jason: Actually Prince Leone, a renowned rapper in the Sri Lankan music industry recognized our talent and gave us an opportunity to perform at his concert in Nelum Pokuna and that was our gateway to the local music industry. So he helped us to come out to the industry. Sheaam Deen, a singer and a producer also helped us do a song. So yes we have been getting good feedback from the local music industry.
Q. What are your future plans in the industry?
Julian: We did a song with a DJ and music producer called 'Mad Max'. So we are hoping to release a video for that. We also hope to be signed in a record label soon and to win a Grammy some day.
Q. What is your advice for the youth aspiring to join the music industry in Sri Lanka?
Julian: Not to give up. Work hard with passion and dedication and you will be successful. It is also important to believe in yourself. You will get discouragements down the road, people telling you not to do it a career. But if you have the passion, believe in yourself and work hard.
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