Dr Thushara Goonewardene Interview: The GP electronic musician

East Midlands GP Dr Thushara Goonewardene releases music under the artist name Fushara.

Why did you first decide to take up music as a hobby?

When I was growing up in the 1990s, we were one of only a few Asian families in the area, so we had to integrate features of our culture with western culture; I was left with a mixed cultural identity.

I explored various hobbies and the local music scene at the time felt natural to me. There was a movement towards dance music culture in my area and I became involved in it.

I and a group of friends used to mix records at each other's homes, which led to gigs at house and warehouse parties.

It was these experiences that led me to make electronic music. Although my parents were bemused about my passion, they always supported freedom of expression and put up with all the strange sounds coming from my bedroom.

As soon as I moved to London, I became involved in the electronic music scene there and while at university, I started to release music on different labels.

Any memorable moments?

The best times were using my spare time to visit other DJs' and musicians' studios, and being inspired by what they were doing. There was a period when I was being exposed to and influenced by some of the best producers, and it felt great to be involved. The furthest I have been was to Japan and experiencing their take on music was fascinating.

The first time a record label took an interest in my music was definitely memorable. I was sitting in the university library checking emails and saw one from a label to which I had sent some music, asking me if I wanted to release with them. Those moments can be few and far between, so when it happens, it always fills me with a sense of accomplishment.

I have made some good friends through my music and meeting them for the first time will always stick in my memory.

All of my experiences as a DJ, particularly my long stint as a Saturday night radio DJ in London, were good fun, although travelling in London on night buses with a heavy bag of records could be tiring.

Do your patients know about your interest?

No. Although sometimes in general practice, I may draw on my experiences of interacting with a variety of people such as from the music industry, I do not talk openly about my experiences with patients.

While at medical school I once let slip to a group tutorial that I was a DJ, when a tutor asked us if we had any hobbies. The look of confusion on her face when I said it really affected how open I was about it with my peers.

The great thing I found in moving from core medical training into general practice was the variety and depth of experience GPs have in all walks of life.

I have now started to feel more comfortable talking about my experiences with colleagues.

What would you advise other GPs wishing to give it a go?

It depends how far you want to go with it. For me, it has developed from a childhood passion for music with the influence of friends.

If you have an interest in local radio and local knowledge of the scene, I would recommend getting involved in the neighbourhood record shop and/or radio station.

The hardest part in making electronic music is learning and building some form of studio. It has become a lot easier to make music in the past decade, with the advent of software that removes the need for the analogue set-ups that you see in classic photos of large music studios.

The expansion of social media has made it much easier to share ideas with other musicians. The original producers worked alone for long stretches, only able to collaborate at events or hanging out in studios. Many of my collaborative efforts have been with friends who are across the globe and when it has been difficult to see each other, we just send parts of tracks to each other online and work on them separately.

What music projects do you have planned for the future?

Among my current release schedule using my artist name, Fushara, I have recently set up a special imprint, Lone Foundation, for releasing occasional projects which I have funded.

This is the next step for me and I have been recruiting friends to collaborate and complete projects. In this way, I have continued my motivation through some difficult times to make music.

It feels great to co-ordinate and produce projects with other artists, to promote music. Sometimes it has been tough juggling music with my career as a GP, but the buzz of finishing a track and hanging out and talking music with my closest friends is one of the most rewarding things I can imagine.

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