The quest for ‘Hysteria’


By Mahika Panditha 

For those of you who enjoy some good live music, I must encourage you to take the time to watch the amazing Q perform, if you have not already. She has been performing since 2017 at several venues such as Botanik and Café Ceylon as well as at events such as Colombo Fashion Week (CFW). With the circumstances these days, it is a little tough to go with a huge group of friends and family for a wonderful live performance, but lucky for you, Q is releasing her EP Hysteria for all of us to enjoy in the comfort of our own homes.

At this moment, aside from being an insanely brilliant musician, Q is also a marketing assistant, model, journalist, researcher for The Arka Initiative, and a co-owner of a bed and breakfast. Talk about a woman who can do it all! Q hopes to continue working on projects she loves and sustain healthy relationships and friendships – we are all here for it and cannot wait to see where she goes next.

We had the pleasure of having a chat with Q earlier this week and discussed all things Hysteria and music. Let’s dive right in.

Do tell our readers a little about yourself.

I exited the womb and entered this world as a superstar, so the past 24 years has been about maintaining that position! Jokes aside, I have a drama and English degree and have an intense love for RnB (rhythm and blues), soul, and jazz. I’m passionate about the performing arts, and yes, that’s my real hair.

You have an absolutely amazing voice. What made you get into music?

Thank you! I started singing in school concerts and choirs when I was 14, but my real love for music only kicked off later on when I began listening to albums by Amy Winehouse, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Billie Holiday, Jessie Ware, Florence + The Machine, etc. Being able to combine writing, singing, and performing seemed like heaven, so I started releasing my own songs.

I really admire female musicians who have complete creative control over their projects like Solange and Beyoncé. They don’t limit themselves to just making music, but instead create musical experiences that encompass the best of cinema, choreography, fashion, and poetry. I’ve got so much more to learn, but it’s the potential of everything that keeps me interested in making music.

On the topic of music, talk to us about your EP. What was the inspiration behind it?

I’m so excited to release my debut EP, Hysteria, after working on it for the best part of four years. I knew I wanted to create something that would be all shades of weird, sexy, and honest, so I was deeply inspired by artists like SZA, Lianne La Havas, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, and Princess Nokia.

This EP documents how I’ve tried to navigate my way through things like sex, hook-ups, independence, and self-doubt. Women are more nuanced than the stereotypes we’re exposed to, especially in the Sri Lankan music industry, so I’ve tried to bridge that gap by writing about my own experiences. Hopefully, it resonates with other women too.

What is your favourite track from the EP and why?

Definitely 100K. Produced by Murandu, it’s an absolute banger and it’s the first track I’ve ever rapped on. I’m particularly proud of the lyrics, as it’s my ode to making money and women killing it in every single way.

What do you want to say to your listeners before they tune in to the EP?

This EP sways between genres and features some wonky beats and introspective lyrics, so I’d say go in with an open mind. But also feel free to troll me if you think it’s absolute sh*t!

Aside from being a talented musician, you are also an actress, model, and journalist. How do you maintain your work-life balance?

I have yet to achieve a good work-life balance, but I’m a true Amy Santiago, so I love schedules and I’m good with time management. There have been instances where I’ve been overwhelmed by too many commitments, so I try to be militant about getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and taking time to enjoy life. Self-care truly is about investing in a couple of more tattoos.

Which profession would you say you have the most passion for?

I definitely lean towards music, but I wouldn’t be satisfied doing just that. Every job fulfils some part of me, whether it’s getting to write about people I admire (I once interviewed Phyllida Lloyd!) or working on ground-breaking projects with Arka that will help end period poverty. I’m lucky to be involved in so many things.

Any advice for aspiring musicians/actresses/models/journalists?

I’m not really in any position to give advice, so take what I say with a pinch of salt. But what I’ve learnt over the past few years is that talent only gets you so far. Three-quarters of it will be down to hard work, so it’s important to have discipline and always put 100% into what you’re doing. Nothing moves unless you do. As esteemed scholar Britney once said: “You better work b**ch.”

Before we wrap up, any funny stories for us? 

I once cried at my cousin’s birthday party because no one was paying attention to me. Sorry Anisha.

Photo Malaka MP


Other photos credits

Photos Rumesh Madushanka and Malaka MP