Alex Bong

Honestly singing

Article from the Sun daily by Peony Chin (posted on 22 June 2017)

IN this digital age where millennials shine best, it’s refreshing to see more youngins emerging in our local music scene in varied genres. One of them is Alex Bong, or better known as alextbh; lower case and all. He officially debuted as alextbh in March 2016, when he released his first soulful single, “TBH”. Since then, the young Sarawakian has been slowly but surely gaining popularity, performing in popular gigs around town such as Urbanscapes, and soon to come, in Good Vibes Festival 2017.

How did you get started with music?
I was playing around with musical instruments a lot and when I got my iPad as a gift at the age of 15, I began fiddling around with the GarageBand app.

Afterwards, I proceeded with more professional softwares, but it didn’t really get me anywhere. I was still learning a lot from YouTube videos. Everything I know was selftaught, although I do have a musical background in the piano.

What made you want to make music?
It was my breakup. After ending my relationship, I needed a cathartic release, so I started writing music. It was the perfect time for me to experiment and also figure out which sounds I was really into.

I channelled all my emotions into designing the music, when it hit me that, oh, I was actually really good in making music.

You’re going to be performing at Good Vibes Festival 2017.

How do you feel about going on an international platform like that?
For me, I tend to treat big stages just like any other stages I perform at. Whether I perform in front of 500 people or 10, I still see it as a performance.

Honestly speaking, I do that because I don’t want to get myself too nervous too. I tend to have a lot of anxiety when it comes to performing in a public space, especially if there’s a massive crowd.

What inspired the “tbh” behind alextbh?
Firstly, it’s a millennial thing. Putting “tbh” behind my name adds the millennial element into it, and it’s also because I used to say “to be honest” very often.

Ironically, I don’t say it very much nowadays because I realised that I’ve been saying it too often.

We notice there’s a lot of “millennial pink” going on in your singles album art, and your social media. Why pink?
It’s just embedded in me. I love the colour, and I love colour schemes. I love when things are in order, and I love a unison colour, hence I chose pink as my main element, so people can associate my brand easily.

You are part of the new wave of young Malaysian musicians who are releasing music independently without a music label. How do you feel about it being so much easier now to be part of the industry without going through the traditional means like before?
Being a musician is definitely not a farfetched idea these days; every element is easily accessible to you. From the music-making software to distributing your music through streaming platforms, it can all be done at home and by yourself. I guess the only thing I’m struggling with right now is selfmanagement, but other than that, I definitely see the benefit of staying independent and not relying on labels as the body that backs you up.

What do you think of the current local music industry?
I love it. We have a huge surge of creative, independent musicians out there, and they make really different kinds of music compared to what you’d hear five years back. Back then, you’d usually associate local music with bubblegum, ukulele type of music.

There wasn’t much innovation going on, but these days we hear people making techno, drum and bass, jazz, electro-jazz, funk, hip hop, and more. There’s definitely a wide array of genres, and I feel really humbled. I stepped in the scene at the very right time when all the different artistes are starting to come out.

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