By Easwaran Rutnam
Her parents wanted her to be a pianist. But she had other ideas. Shanaki Perera, better known as Missy Flame, is without a doubt the leading female Disc Jockey (DJ) in Sri Lanka. But her rise to the top was not a bed of roses and it took a lot of hard work, dedication and of course talent to be where she is today.
Born to a family with a musical background Missy Flame was encouraged by her parents to take up piano lessons.
“Ammi (mom) enrolled me into piano classes and one day my parents hoped I will be a piano instructor. But with my studies I just could not focus and progress as a pianist,” Missy Flame told the Colombo Gazette.
A big fan of retro music Missy Flame had a hidden interest to be a DJ and one day she decided to pursue that goal with a little help from her friends.
She approached popular DJ and friend Steven Pieres who offered to teach her how to mix music on a console as there were no female DJs around at the time.
Missy Flame was eventually encouraged to also follow electronic music which was growing in popularity in Sri Lanka.
Her break as a professional DJ came when she was recruited by the club/pub Bristo Latino where she remained for about 6-8 months.
But her DJing skills were then limited to just mixing CDs and she was contacted by another popular DJ Tareeq Musafer who urged her to join his DJ academy to learn using the turn-tables.
Missy Flame learned the skills to use a turn table and after one year at the academy she was all ready to set Sri Lanka on fire…or should we say flames.
She recalls her father was not too happy with the idea considering that she will be in an industry where she needs to stay out very late around hundreds of strangers on a dance floor.
“Before when I was very young dad used to stay outside when I used to go for parties and at times even walks in to see if I’m ok. That’s how concerned and protective he was. But now he has begun to understand things and is happy with what I am doing. Mom is also happy I’m doing what I love,” she said.
Despite being a male dominated industry Missy Flame says she does not feel uncomfortable being a female DJ especially since she gets a lot of support from the top male DJs in the local industry.
Today there are two other well known female DJs in the local industry, namely DJ KC Grey and DJ Sunara and Missy Flame feels though it’s tough to be a female DJ it’s not impossible.
“At the start I was shy and scared but now I have adjusted. I’ve understood how to entertain the crowd and make them happy,” she said.
Miss Flame has over the years performed at several parties and events including the Hikka Fest, Red Bull ‘X’ Fighters as well as weddings, birthdays and corporate events.
“A Dj is not just playing track after track. There are so many little things that go into it which you don’t even realize. The key needs to match when mixing and so on. It’s really hard. There are so many details and even I am still learning day after day,” she said.
Her most embarrassing moment as a DJ was when she was invited to perform at a party at Shelton Beach in Mount Lavinia.
Missy Flame arrived at, whet she assumed, was the venue and was escorted inside to spin the disc, which she did for a god one hour.
After she finished her performance she approached an organizer at the gate and asked for her payment and she was in for a shock.
Missy Flame was told she was at the wrong party and the venue she was looking for was actually next door.
An embarrassed Missy Flame ran next door where the organizers had been waiting for her for several minutes and did her thing.
Missy Flame has a full time job and spins discs as a hobby but she hopes one day she will be able to be a full time DJ, play internationally and produce her own music.