Speaking Out

In the midst of turbulent street protests and a spiraling economy, Sri Lankan artist Bo Sedkid dropped his album Goring, where he airs out feelings of despair, anger, and kinship. Indy hip hop and spoken word vocals in Sinhala are layered with a collection of effects, altering his voice in dozens of different ways. It’s a folky record with lots of acoustic guitars but nimbly avoids categorization, driven mainly by rhythm and passionate production. He digresses into grimy electro house and blustering rap beats mixed with South Asian drums and strings, and even autotuned gospel.

Sedkid, whose real name is Muvindu Binoy, is a prolific multi-media artist who makes music videos for local artists, creates digital art, makes collages, and does editorial photography. “I let my ideas choose their medium,” he says. “Making music videos served me that sweet spot where I can combine both of those interests to one point.” But this album is by far the most fleshed out and cohesive project he’s released to date.

Binoy’s musical journey started with piano and guitar lessons as a kid. In high school, he taught himself drums and played with hard rock and heavy metal bands. In 2011 he started a dance-punk/dubstep band called DuckDog, which he says was the first dubstep to come out of Sri Lanka. Afterward he kept experimenting with production and dropped two beat tapes. Goring, which took him six years to complete and was released by the Chinabot label, is the first project to feature his vocals. His audio/visual single with Thattu Pattu is quite similar.

A lot of the percussion and textures are made from Foley recordings of objects like kitchen supplies, neighborhood ambiance, and even some chopped off from ASMR videos. He also samples regional instruments like the tabla, miruthangam, and sarangi. And he draws inspiration from vintage Sri Lankan sci-fi flicks and pop songs, as well as old-school Indian Bollywood songs. Tracks like “Kavvandha,” “Paaththaya,” and “Full Dot” feature regional leanings most prominently.

He says he prefers a lo-fi quality sound and tries to make his music feel unfinished and raw. “Honestly, I work on the go and in most cases, I use my phone to record most of my stems. I add beats and spice afterward on my laptop. Digital tools make everything sound so flat and too clean. I want mine to sound more human.”

The only instrument on the album Binoy plays live is the acoustic guitar, and the rest is either programmed or sampled. That is, unless you consider lyrics a form of instrumentation, which he certainly does: “My lyrics are mostly used to express a certain mood or a feel more than any literal meaning. Because of this, they’re usually fragmented or abstract. Once I have a set of lyrics that align with my beats, I try to add more depth and meaning. But the rhythm is always my main priority.”

Some tracks, like “Hallucination Nation,” are straightforwardly political. But overall the project is personal and driven by vibe.”It grips on personal subject matters which vary from political to philosophical,” he says. “My own perspectives about love, suicide, political violence, and how to endure this existential dread melodically. It’s a musical collage of various moods.”

Just because something isn’t explicitly political doesn’t mean it’s not connected to current events, and Binoy says that he chose to release the album now, after all the years he worked on it, simply because of the ongoing protests. Crisis can be a catalyst. The Sri Lankan music scene is largely happening online these days because COVID and the current crisis, but artists are very active on social media. “Personally, I think this is the best time for Sri Lankan art. We need more of it right now than ever before. Whoever is contemplating making more local art, I say do it! DO IT NOW!” When asked what type of effect he hopes his album will have, he replied, “A simple kick in the gut! A fist in the air and a kiss on the forehead.”