I (Kirk Harrington, DDTTRH) recently caught up with Sharmila and I am so happy I did. I've read her articles online (she works for the Examiner) and always knew she was an avid Duran Duran fan; this led to my interest in interviewing her. I have also had the pleasure of talking with her in relation to the DDTTRH effort. She has followed our effort for quite some time and I have always appreciated her enthusiasm about it.
Hi Sharmila! Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us at DDTTRH. One of our core missions is to speak with people just like you who are in the music and entertainment business to get their thoughts on Duran Duran and to raise awareness of how they have impacted music history.
Please tell us about the Examiner. How long have you worked with them and have you always covered concerts or do you write about other topics as well?
The Exmaminer.com is a media company that operates a network of local news websites, allowing pro-am contributors to share their city-based knowledge in the areas of music, fashion, lifestyle and everyday news on a blog-like platform, in 238 markets throughout the United States and parts of Canada.
I have been a NY Concert Reporter with The Examiner since September of 2012 and covered an array of music concerts and fashion events from New York Fashion Week to Counting Crows, Chic and Nile Rodgers to Duran Duran…of course.
I've read that you've worked in the entertainment industry for the last 15 years. Can you tell us where else you have been and what led up to you becoming a reporter?
My career started out working on film and television show sets in New York City. My first job was on The Cosby Show as a production assistant while studying Television and Film Production at St. John’s University in Queens, NY. It was an opportunity that I was determined to make mine and my shear persistence paid off. I spent 2 seasons working with a great cast of talented actors. After I graduated with a B.S. in Communication Arts, I went on to work on many commercials, films and television shows, such as Sex and the City and MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch as a Production/Business Manager and Line Producer. After eighteen years of working in television and film, I needed a new direction, but at the same time wanted to continue to work in the sane industry. So I made the jump to Digital Advertising, working as a Production Business Manager for Digital Studio at R/GA down in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City. This experience brought me to a whole different level in regards to how products were represented in the digital world. After three and a half years in Advertising, I felt the need to revisit my passion for writing and photography. I published my first children’s book in 2012, launched a photography and quotes website, started writing lyrics and re-learned how to play the acoustic guitar. While keeping myself busy, my love of music grew in a different direction. I started analyzing melodies and lyrics. And the first album that I ripped apart was Duran Duran’s “All You Need Is Now.” While the band was in full tour motion, I made my way to see them live at Foxwood’s, Madison Square Garden and Atlantic City with a group of Duraniacs. I figured, my hardcore passion for music needed to make its way from my head to paper, so I started approaching PR agencies to review new album releases and indie artists. Surprisingly, the response was overwhelming, so I signed up with The Examiner and a few other publications. This road to reporting has opened many doors for me. While I still spend many nights in photo pits, trekking my gear in and out of the city, I started my own business as a Music Agent, representing several independent musicians and speakers. This universe is so drenched in talent, but there are a few that strike a chord in me and having the opportunity to help them grow as artists and exposing them to the world is the biggest reward.
Passionate about their music, yes. I’m part of the 30+ club. I hope that doesn’t give my age away. Music was my outlet, a way to express or hold back. And when I first heard of Duran Duran, it was the easiest thing to digest at the time. I really had no idea who I was as a teenager dealing with the world and they knew exactly who I was. They understood me. As my obsession with the band grew, my love of music became my sanctuary. I bought every album, poster, button, t-shirt and anything that had their face or name on it. I plastered every inch of my bedroom wall and closet with their gorgeous beings. I spent the last thirty plus years listening to their music, but it wasn’t until a few years ago, when I started reconnecting with other Duranies and experiencing them live. Having built up my reputation as a writer and photographer with several agencies, I was stoked when I was granted coverage of Duran Duran’s Foxwoods venue and John Taylor’s book signing in New York City on my birthday of last year. I honestly have to say that it was an overwhelming feeling when I was in that room at Sirius XM, standing face to face with the man I had a crush on growing up. It was a different this time because now I’m no longerfangirling, I’m actually there to cover a story, a story about a man whose overcome his demons and it was my responsibility as a reporter to capture this moment and share it with the Duran community. I have the utmost respect for him as a musician and human being. My devotion for the band will live and die with me, but while I still dance through life, I will continue to find a way to get the interview of a lifetime with the band that was born to make me dance!I've seen you write about Duran Duran. For example, I saw that you covered John Taylor's book release that happened recently. Are you a big fan of the band? Are you passionate about them and please tell us why!
Its interesting how you portray your experience with Duran Duran. Mine is similar, except I am not much of a collector (don't tell Andy Golub). I actually showed my devotion through how I dressed, through sharing with my high school friends my interest in them (though sometimes I was ridiculed...I was considered too effeminate, particularly by 'the jocks'). I have listened to their music for years. Like you, only certain music touches a chord with me. Duran Duran has a way of 'singing to my soul' like no other music has. I too only recently connected with Duranies through Duran Duran to the Rock Hall. My first live concert experience was here in Cleveland when they came for All You Need is Now. I have not met any of the band in person...though you might think its funny that I've had dreams of them since DDTTRH.
You mentioned the word 'Duraniacs'--did you mean Duranies? Tell us what you think is the difference between Duranie and Duraniac (this should be a fun one for you). I know I've met all kinds of fans...some I am more glad to have met than others (to be honest).
Duraniac is an individual who has a stratospheric devotion to the band Duran Duran. Certainly not one who is insane or dangerous. Duraniacs have an increased spirit, a reflex of intoxicating happiness, a fight or flight kind of attitude and a highly reduced sense or fear of danger.
Not to say that Duranies are that much different. Where we differ, is the overwhelming respect we have for each other. We are a group of women who are above and beyond elated when other's are granted opportunities to connect with the band in ways we never dreamed of. The fabric of our being in no way is that of jealous tirades strewn up and down social timelines and hidden behind direct messages.
Tell us about some of the fun moments you've had connecting with Duran fans? Tell us about some of the people you've met or had nice experiences with.
Over the last 2 years, my circle of fiends has changed shape in the form of a "D". I have friends that I grown up with since elementary school and have stayed in and out of touch til today, but the Duraniacs friends that I have made have touched my life two fold. We experienced loss that has made our bond inseparable and we have experienced elation that gives life to the memories we have made.
Standing in line at Terminal 5 and the whole Steve Aoki experience has got be one of my highlights of 2012. I started out 3rd in line and somehow ended up further back as the day turned to night but managed to get right in front of the Bass God along with my Duraniacs Angela and Shannon when we were finally able to get in. Here we are, a group of 40 something women and a few men in a sea of 20 something men and women trying to stand our ground to see Duran Duran perform only to be bathed in bubbly and painted with Kermit the frog green cake icing. Fun times had by all and certainly an experience I would honestly love to relive again.
The "All You Need Is Now" tour made it's way to my side of the globe at The MGM Grand at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, CT and as a reporter, this was one venue that I had to cover. I was granted a press pass and polished my gear...my camera that is. Needless to say my camera was knocked out of my hands as the hordes of Duranies bum rushed the stage as soon the lights faded to black.
It was back on the road and off to the Revel, which was cancelled due to Nick Rhodes illness, but we made the best of our stay and created more life memories. But the one memory that holds true for all of us Duraniacs, is our "Duranies Who Brunch" luncheon at Brother Jimmy's in NYC on March 25, 2012. It's sole purpose was for us to bond in person and not over some social cable that we held into as our only means of communication. For some it went as far as Scotland and for others it was local. We ate, we drank and we mad life long friends. And unfortunately two weeks later, our dear friend, Sandy Isabella-Ahrens passed away. If ones heart could break into pieces so minuscule, than that's how I would describe the state we were in when we heard of her passing. Today our bond continues to strengthen and our memories continue to grow. To all my #DuraniesWhoBrunch girls, Angela Grella-Oropallo, Sandy Isabella-Ahrens, Kayren Campbell, Cynthia Graham-Hughes, Shannon Marie Moyer, Petra Jorden, Lee Ellen Becker, Brandi Goldstein, Margherita Maramonte Leffe and Claudine Commisso, I will always hold a special place in my heart for them.
Sharmila... it's been so great getting to know you more. Thanks so much for interviewing with us. Here are your final questions:
Who is your favorite band member of Duran Duran and why?
To choose or not to choose that is not even an option. Even thirty three years ago I had a tough time choosing. They each represented something different to me. The instruments they played, the way they dressed and the way they conducted themselves on stage. Till this day, I admire them just as any mother would admire her children, equally in their own way.
If you could meet this band member, what would you ask him or talk to him about?
I’ve had the honor of meeting the band on more than one occasion and I’m above and beyond grateful. It is an indescribable feeling to most brought on by the connection that we make when the music makes its way to our ears and down into our hearts and souls. It’s pretty deep. An afternoon with the band talking and singing about music and life as opposed to asking them questions that have been asked numerous times over would suit me just fine.
Is there anything you would like to say to our DDTTRH fans...or to DDTTRH as we continue to do what we do? Words of wisdom much appreciated.
Duran Duran will always have the best fans any band can ask for. We have been there fromthe start and we will continue to support their music as long as they continue to believe that their music is just as essential to the water we drink and the air that we breathe.