The local music scene is booming with young talent emerging from all around the island. When it comes to local English music, there is a handful of musicians that keeps the industry alive. Middle Class Richkids took the local music scene by a storm with hitting over a million listeners and their singles constantly topping charts.
Hi! met with the talented Middle Class Richkids duo Hibshi and Shenic and chatted about their music and what it means to them.
Hibshi: We are an Electronic / Pop act from Sri Lanka, writing, producing and occasionally singing our own music. From the music to the imagery, our project is built on authenticity, telling our own stories about relationships, heartbreak, friendship and growing up, which, hopefully, give our listeners a glimpse of their own lives.
MCRK is made up of myself and Shenic. I spent a couple of years before MCRK releasing my own music and producing music for other popular artists in Sri Lanka. As an English-music artist in Sri Lanka, I managed to figure out a very effective release model, seeing results across Spotify primarily and Youtube. Shenic had a reputation in the local underground circuit, releasing very interesting experimental music, and he’s also a part of the filmmaking crew, the “High School Junkies”. So he also has some experience with film scoring and filmmaking. Look up the High School Junkies and their work.
Hibshi: I feel like MCRK was in the making a long time before it really was. I had some success in 2017-2018 with my own music, but doing something together as a duo was something we had talked about even before that. It was in 2019 when I took a hiatus from my music that I reached out to Shenic again about pursuing something together.
Shenic: The more we talked about it, the more we realised how much we could accomplish together, musically. We’ve both got such individual strengths that complement the other, in a way where I believe MCRK wouldn’t work if we were to replace either one of us. We spent nearly 8 months before we launched creating heaps of music, doing photoshoots and fully developing our project and vision.
Shenic: I wish we had a cool answer for you but the truth is it's just something that really resonated with us. Hibshi had the idea and when he said it, it just clicked. I think we’re both pretty aware of our Middle-Class roots and how everything we’ve done, we’ve had to create for ourselves and put in the work. Nothing was just handed to us. So that’s the idea of Middle Class Richkids; just us taking pride in the fact that we’re two Middle Class Kids building something for ourselves.
Shenic: Sri Lanka has a pretty small music industry that is pretty set in its ways. It works well for people that create Sinhala music but English music artists really have to innovate to get somewhere.
Hibshi: I think we realised that when we make English music, we don't just make it for Sri Lanka. We make it for everyone that speaks English (or not, because sometimes you don’t need language to enjoy music). But we had to figure out a model that allowed us to release music through international labels and curators that let us reach audiences across the world through Spotify, Apple Music and Youtube promoters. So the way we do things is quite different from most SL artists.
Hibshi: Could be anything. A lot of our songs begin with songwriting. So, I might have a story to tell, or a concept or I might pick Shenic’s brain for a story. Then, I’ll sit at Keyboard when I have a line or melody I like, and if I’m inspired, the entire song could just flow out of me. I’ll send it across to Shenic and together we figure out how it should sound and we work on the production together.
Hibshi: I was influenced a lot by artists like Avicii, Calvin Harris, Diplo and Skrillex. In the last few years, I’ve been inspired quite heavily by artists like The Chainsmokers, as well as Indie artists like Lauv, Chelsea Cutler, Jeremy Zucker and so on. Locally, I grew up on artists like Ranidu, Chinthy and Iraj (who we’ve both had the honour of co-producing some music for).
Shenic: Before MCRK happened, the type of music that I would listen to or create were very experimental. So I was mainly inspired by artists like San Holo, Yellow Claw, Flume and Cashmere Cat. But working with Hibshi, we quite found our sound and I fell in love with Indie music along with artists like Lauv, blackbear, Alec Benjamin and many more. Locally, I would definitely go with Hibshi. He's been an inspiration to me since day one and continues to be.
Shenic: This is a tough one. We still feel like we have a long way to go. We’ve had some success with each of our singles surpassing a couple hundred thousand streams and our Spotify channel doing a little over a Million. I think we take pride in the little achievements, like being able to put out our single ‘Quarantine’ just before the lockdown and have it really resonate with what people were going through. But we don’t necessarily feel accomplished. Middle Class Richkids is just over 6 months old and we still have so much we have to do.
Hibshi: It’s easily why we do what we do. When people comment on songs like 20 Days Without You or Too Hurt Too Often, and tell us they’ve had their heartbroken and they relate to the song, it feels good to know someone feels a little less alone because of the music. We’ve also seen hundreds of comments on channels across Youtube where Quarantine was uploaded with people telling us they loved it or needed that kind of positivity. It doesn’t get better than that.
We thank Hibshi and Shenic for chatting with Hi! for it’s been a pleasure!