Music Business

Music Gateway Meets The Editors - Thushara Chandrasiri, Darkus Mag

Photograph of the blog post author, Becca Smith

Becca Smith

31.3.2021

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We recently caught up with Thushara Chandrasiri – founder and editor of Darkus Magazine. We chat all about his journey so far in the industry, the incredible artists he’s covered in the past and how you can get your own music featured in Darkus. Let’s dive in!

Hi Thushara! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the industry? 

Hey! Thank you for having me! My entry into the industry goes back to my university days, where at the age of 19 years old I went to my first ever concert – a Sum 41 gig over in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Up until that point I had never been to a gig in my life but after that night in 2003 – and oh boy that is when I fell in love with live music. I then joined my University Radio Station and also wrote a few articles for my university newspaper. 

After graduating in the Summer of 2005, for a bit of fun I decided I would do a little bit of blogging, writing about some of my favourite things – such as the latest album I had bought or even a new band I had just discovered. Having done a bit of blogging for a while in 2012 I decided to have a go at making my own magazine, and it was at that point DARKUS was born. 

While I don’t class myself as a trained journalist, I am instead someone who is lead by a love of writing and a passion for celebrating the music that I enjoy. By believing in my dreams, the experience and knowledge then followed to where we are today – 9 years later with a magazine that is centred around celebrating the positive and creative things in life.

Thushara Chandrasiri

If you had to pick – who is your favourite artist that you’ve featured so far at Darkus?

Ooo that is a tough one! I have had so many over the years and many who have become such good friends. I guess if I had to choose it would probably be the band Pale Waves in 2017. When I first met them it was when they were still very new to the music scene and it has been so great to see how they have grown in confidence over the years. Another couple of more recent artists would have to be FIAA and George Holliday. 

I have so much love for both of those artists. I have a lot of respect for FIAA because she has such a great amount of energy and strength which you can really see in her music, and the journey she has taken to become the person she is today – man that is some pretty inspiring stuff right there. 

For George, everything he does and the projects that he is part of (Made On The Road) just amaze me. I always refer to him as a Pioneer of Music, because by working, supporting and empowering emerging artists, George Holliday is leading the way to create music that just leaves you smiling from ear to ear.

FIAA, Photo Credit – Ellisha Iddon

What do you think is the most rewarding part of your role and what motivates you?

The most rewarding part is seeing the journey of an artist and being able to invest in their stories. I have always seen DARKUS as much more than just your typical magazine, but instead a platform which enables all musicians the opportunity to have their voices heard. As I said before many of these artists have become friends, and when you are creating an environment where everyone lifts each other up and everyone is made to feel like family, then that is the most beautiful feeling anyone can experience.

What are the key things you look out for in the artists that you cover at Darkus?

Whenever I receive a message to check out any artist, there are a few things I look for. First the vibe of their music and their narrative. I am the type of music fan who loves lyrics, so I will pay careful attention to the words as it helps to paint a picture of the artist’s identity as a songwriter. 

Confidence is also an important factor, and that can come in different forms. Confidence is not just adding a touch of sass to your music which makes the listener go ‘hell yea, you go girl’ – it is also about showing strength to share vulnerability and creating safe-spaces in music to discuss important topics in life. 

Of course I do love an artist who makes me want to get up, dance and do an unapologetic hair brush moment in front of the mirror – but hey, if when I press play and can really get a connection with the artist, then that will tick all those boxes each and every time.

Do you have any advice to give to upcoming, independent artists that are pitching their music to you – are there any do’s/don’ts?

The most important thing for me is for artists to believe in yourself and believe in your vibe. I have the privilege of coming across artists who are at different stages of their journey, all playing the hero and title role in their own music and what I admire about each of them is that they are embracing their identity. 

Also make sure you do your research on the publication or media outlet that you are pitching to. If you are new to Darkus Magazine and we are equally new to you, we want to hear a little bit about you – because as I said before, once you’re in we will invest in your journey and celebrate your milestones every step of the way.

Do not just send an impersonal email or even a pitch with minimal information with ‘check out our new track’ and nothing else, because when myself and the rest of the team are working through those submissions we are looking for those artists who stand out and have put thought into their pitches. As an Editor-in-Chief, when my ears prick up, and I say the words “oh my days, where you have been hiding all of my life!”, that is when you know that you have got my attention, haha!

FIAA, Photo Credit – Ellisha Iddon

Are you working on anything new and exciting for Darkus that you’d like to shout about?

There are so many great things going on DARKUS, I don’t know even where to begin. This year will be officially 10 years since I founded the magazine – so when 2021 began I knew that this was a year I wanted to take a new step in the magazine’s evolution. 

One of the things we are excited about is our Official Podcast, which is a chance for us to invite guests as we reflect on music and life and really give our guests that arena to connect to music fans even further. 

This year I also want to go back to our roots at DARKUS – be it in our print magazines, website or other platforms such as the podcast, as a way to really support emerging artists of all genres, so stay tuned to find out more.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Thushara! Is there anything else that you’d like to mention?

No no, thank you for inviting me. This has been super fun! I would just like to say a special I have a huge love for the Music Gateway family and it is such a pleasure to work in collaboration with you. Long may the good times roll! 

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