Columnists,Shavinya Illankoon,Main Slider,Top Story l by Shavinya Illankoon l 22 Dec 2020     - 329

Lankan Plug: with Melissa Stephen


You know what’s hot? Female Rap Artists.

You know what’s way hotter? Sri Lankan Female Rap Artists!

That one thing every singer would’ve learned when being in the music industry is that, if you want to make it big, then you have to stand out from the rest - in simple terms, you have to be unique. Your work and music should be out of the ordinary, and it must have a long-lasting effect on your listeners and fans.

Melissa Stephen's got that defined edge to her lyrical persona, ever since her early days!

Since the age of eight, she has had an exquisite interest in rap. Back when her family was residing in the Maldives, she would learn the words of her most favourite tunes and perform in front of guests who visited the hotel that her father used to work in. Melissa’s father was her biggest strength when inspiriting her to pursue her musical dreams. He helped her in exploring various genres of music such as the styles of Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Jay Z and many more, which she grew up listening to all throughout her childhood.

The story behind her debut single is an extraordinary one. While completing her Bachelor’s degree in Creative Arts in Australia, Melissa participated in an online competition that she has come across. She had to submit a demo to Grammy Award winning producer, Scott Matthews and was victoriously rewarded an opportunity to work with him in his studio! This gave birth to her first rap baby “Believe”, as she was one of the selected winners from this contest.

“I had never been in a professional studio before, it was a humbling experience to work with someone who has worked with artists I look up to”, Melissa shared. “Believe” was written and composed by this amazingly talented rapper and it was her first public hearing out in the open!

Following up a career as an independent artist who composes English music is undoubtedly a big struggle in the Sri Lankan Music Industry. Similar to the previously featured artists on this segment, this has been the same for Melissa as well.

“The limitations of the music industry here in comparison to the rest of world is definitely a challenge” she told us at Hi!! Online.

What with the fast-moving 21st century we all live in, Social Media has once again come to the rescue! When wanting to reach out to a bigger audience, platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube have rendered Melissa with countless benefits. “The possibility to be an independent artist and grow freely with complete creative control is a beautiful thing”, and we solely agree because you have power to make your own decisions to enhance your progress for the better.

The young singer is very grateful for modern technology as she was able to interact with new musicians and artistes online to discuss possible future collaborations. Even the response from fans has been completely positive whenever she dropped a new beat of a song - “One thing I have definitely noticed is that my followers are very supportive, the feedback is always full of love and so encouraging” explained Melissa.

She also wanted to give out some advice to upcoming artists in the local community; “Put out your music on everything. You will be pleasantly surprised with the feedback, someone is always going to click with you”. Exactly! Don’t think twice - just go ahead and release your work for everyone to hear! You will be astounded by the love you receive! 

Melissa moved to Sri Lanka in 2015 which was followed by the release of her second single “Victory”. This song was, in fact, later on recognized to be an anthem for the Lankan LGBTQ community. She also has two more singles down the line; “Feel The Love” and “What You Got Though”, where she was able to explore a new sound, while gaining a rising demand among listeners. “What You Got Though” would be her latest and it focuses on improving and facing your fears dead on with a little personal story entailed to it.

She was also granted some whopping openings to perform at, such as for DJ Yella of NWA and for UK Singer-Songwriter, Tara Mcdonald. Moreover, Melissa has performed along side Apache Indian and she was even given the opportunity to perform her own set at The Ministry of Sound Sri Lanka Tour and The Colombo Music Festival, where she was able to share the stage with popular International stars Shaggy, Big Mountain, Diana King and Maxi Priest! Her most memorable moment on stage would be when she was the official MC at the Colombo Music Festival as that was one of the largest crowds she has ever performed in front of. According to Melissa, the experience has been surreal! 

Here are her social media handles for you to follow-up on her music;
Instagram: @melissastephenofficial
YouTube: Melissa Stephen
Facebook Page: Melissa Stephen Official
Twitter: MelissaCStephen
SoundCloud: melissa-stephen
TikTok: @melissastephenofficial

From entertaining passers-by on Aussie streets with her portable mic and speaker to manifesting her own story musically, Melissa has some remarkable words of wisdom to share; “See, the only person stopping you is you. When I feel blocked by myself and my own mind, which will happen to you often, just try to remember why you want to do this and try to take small steps so you don't get overwhelmed. Be consistent and love what you do above all else. Focus on the music and the rest will follow. Work at it and be patient, it really does take time. So make sure you love it.”        

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shavinya Illankoon

I am an independent solo artist that debuted last October. I write lyrics, make my own music and collaborate with fresh and talented producers. I focus on themes such as Mental Health and psychological aspects of people in order to provide a voice to them and to let them know that we're all in this together and they are not alone.

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