Music as sustenance
After the launch of her single, Circles, Dani Komari looks forward to performing her music and leaving covers behind
Article from the Sun daily by Azizul Rahman Ismail (posted on 02 Apr 2020)
AT THE end of last year, Dani Komari released her first single, a soulful, jazzy and bluesy piece called Circles that was inspired by her newly found independence. The song earned her the title of Hitz.fm’s Homegrown Artist of the Month in December.
Now at 29, the songstress looks forward to spreading her wings further with her songs, fueled by her passion for music.
By day she teaches refugee kids at MSO Learning Centre, and by night she does rehearsals and live shows.
What is music to you?
“Music is like an escape from reality. It’s like being awake while still dreaming. Whenever I listen to music or sing, I feel transported to a safer place where music becomes colour. I see a picture being constructed piece by piece in my head.
“It’s like being in a trance, but that’s also when you know you have completely let yourself become one with [the] art. Music can do that to me, and now that I have felt what it can do for me, it’s like breathing, it becomes a necessity, it becomes a way of life for me. So, I equate music as sustenance to my life.”
How do you listen to music?
“When I wake up, I start my day with a hope for a manageable day, and then just before I hit the shower, I turn on Spotify on my phone, and leave it on loud. I just moved into a new place about nine months ago, and I am slowly, but surely, filling up space as I progress with my career, so I don’t have a source other than my phone and Spotify at the moment to listen to music.
“However, because I commute to work via public transport, I can still stay in touch with the latest top tunes in the charts thanks to radio stations! Thank goodness for them still being around.”
What is currently on your playlist?
“A bunch of random flavours, because I like my music colourful! But currently, I’m mostly listening to a lot from Jordan Rakei, Hiatus Kaiyote, Pink Floyd, and Anderson Paak, to name a few.”
How has your journey in the music industry been over the past few years? What have you learned? Has anything changed?
“It has been a climb. From doing solo acoustic shows to performing with a band of seven incredible musicians, it’s been a massive climb with visible growth. I’ve learned to be patient and to trust the process.
“Music has become my full-time partner, and there are days when it does feel like a job, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, everybody involved wants to eat too, just like I do.
“There is never a time when I’m not grateful, though. Today I don’t have to do covers all the time. I can sing my originals and people are starting to enjoy those more.”
What is excellent and lacking in the Malaysian music industry?
“I wish there were more avenues and emphasis out there to support the local English indie music scene. It’s good to know that there are now organisations such as Cendana that have been set up to assist musicians with various activities including workshops, funding and touring. I wish there were more radio and television stations out there that will support the local English music scene such as Hitz Met 10, TRAXXfm, BFM, and so on. This will give us the platform for our music to be heard.”
What are your thoughts on busking?
“My personal opinion on busking is that it’s a fantastic platform to start. If you can sing and perform in front of a bunch of strangers who would probably not care to take a second look at you, you’d know your skin is growing thicker, and you do need a thick skin to be in the entertainment industry.
“However, you also gain the most amazing confidence and trust in your own ability when people do pay attention and tip you, and after that, ask you more questions about you and your music. Those moments change a musician for the better. For now, I still busk occasionally at Publika to work on my guitar playing and not so much my singing, because when I do live shows with the band, I’m always singing only.”
Sing it for the world
Article from the Sun daily by Jason Lim (posted on 28 May 2019)
WITH lyrics like: “You can be the one to bring me down but I will be just fine,” 16-year-old budding songwriter and producer Rufus Sivaroshan’s music blends upbeat electronic soundscapes, soulful blues and acoustic vocals with an understated melancholic charm.
His debut single Fine strikes a chord with most people, with relatable lyrics that flood our hearts with emotions and memories from our teenage years, and remind us that everything will indeed, be fine.
The self-taught guitarist started off performing in his bedroom, posting short covers of songs on his Instagram @heyimrufus, and later venturing out into performing gigs in front of large crowds.
Rufus then became the first Malaysian artiste to sign with British distribution company and record label AWAL, and even caught the attention of international musicians Wrabel, JP Saxe, and Sara Diamond.
He shares: “I just want to see people happy with my music and I hope that they would make something out of it.”
What is music to you?
“It is a form of universal expression. I’ve always had difficulties with speech ever since I was younger, I was never able to form perfect sentences correctly, especially when I’m under pressure, and it got really difficult on top of being bullied in high school.
“Music is this medium for me to express myself, without any barriers preventing me from saying what is on my mind, so it becomes really therapeutic in that sense.”
How did you find your genre?
“The story of how I found my ‘sound’ has been all over the place. When I started producing music, it was all EDM, with influences from Martin Garrix and Avicii, then it came to a point where I decided that I was pretty bad at it.
“As time progressed, I found myself listening to pop music, but not the typical kind you hear on most radio stations. I was listening to niche pop on Spotify and music from up-and-coming artistes.
“I slowly realised I was able to write and sing in the same [vein] ... it is something that I enjoy making.”
What is the story behind Fine?
“When I started writing it, I had just gotten out of a really toxic relationship, and at the same time just started my A-Levels, with a lot more things going on.
“I wrote Fine as a way to console myself that things will be alright, and that they’ll resolve [themselves] eventually.
“I wasn’t supposed to release Fine initially, but my friend Daniel who co-wrote the song with me really liked it, and said that it should totally be my debut. The song took me three months to complete, from drafting to perfecting it.
How did you manage to sign with AWAL?
“On the day I was about to submit the song to Spotify, I got an e-mail from AWAL saying that they really liked the demo I sent, and they would love to invite me onto their platform.
“One of the reasons why I was so stoked was that AWAL signed up so many artistes that I look up to, such as Lauv, Bruno Major, Rex Orange County, Verite, and [other] EDM artistes like Don Diablo and R3hab. It is just cool to be among that roster of artistes.”
Do you think it is hard to get noticed, when the music industry is so saturated right now?
“It is not difficult to build a fan base, because that can easily be done through word of mouth, but to break through as a professional is a little difficult.
“That being said, as long as you know what you’re doing, then it becomes a lot easier to go in the right direction and hopefully be where you want to be.
“Social media platforms are incredibly impressionable, and so easy for everyone to get around. We use Instagram to keep up with our favourite celebrities, so why not use that to learn about key people and have conversations with them.”
If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
“Honestly, I don’t think I will be doing music full-time, which is ironically weird because everyone in the creative industry is so passionate about what they do, and want to do it with all their hearts.
“I’m planning to study politics in university next year (not political politics but developmental politics).
“I like comparing [progress made by] less developed countries and developing countries to the progress [made by] developed nations, seeing how they have succeeded, and how can we [use] the same framework. I’ve always been intrigued by that.”
Article from the Sun daily by Yee Jie Min (posted on 3 April 2018)
COMBINING subtle harmonic vocals with minimal electronic melodies, Pastel Lite comprises Eff Hakim and Mohd Faliq, two like-minded people who just want to make music that they both enjoy. But the band was not formed without any trials and errors throughout their music journey.
The pair met after a friend introduced them through Facebook and initially Faliq was reluctant to form a band because he wanted to produce Eff as a pop star and felt it wasn't going to work with just the two of them. But the two hit it off after going to Faliq's studio and having a jam session.
"It was instant chemistry. I realised I have never been this comfortable with anyone else," Eff said. "We ended up making a song and I told Faliq we should do something with it."
"I was looking for a female singer and when I met Eff, it was like magic. She was really serious, and we made songs that people love," Faliq added.
Their band name is probably proof of the trials and errors they faced. "We didn't know what was the cool name that would suit our music. Initially we wanted to call ourselves The Orchid Was Dying, but Faliq thought it was too metal and I said that's too avant-garde," Eff said.
"Then what about CatDog? But Faliq said that has nothing to do with our music although we liked the cartoon. I was thinking pop, pastel colours and putting some electronic sounding word in it. So why not go 'lite'? We thought of Pastel Lit at first, but that was too hip hop so we ended up staying with lite."
Their album, Balada was completed after two years amidst personal turmoil including a studio that burned down. During this period, they had thoughts of quitting because of the problems they were going through.
"We pretty much gone through everything, but it wasn't because of these problems that the album took longer than expected. It happened when we decided to take our time to make all these songs that all these personal problems started popping out of nowhere," Eff revealed.
Still, they persevered and their silver lining was landing their first performance at Baybeats 2012 in Singapore after releasing their first demo, being called up to perform at Laneway Festival 2015 in Singapore, and going on a three-day tour at Chongqing, China. But that's not all to their track record, having played in multiple local music festivals to opening for international bands with the most recent being The xx in January.
Who does what in the band?
We both do everything respectively together. It is just a matter of who starts and finishes it. Back when we started I was a novice so Faliq tends to start or he would give me a guideline of the song. As I progressed and learned more, I started things myself.
What I like working with Faliq is he always gives me room to do what I want to do and if he wants to experiment, I wouldn't stop him. I would be like are you sure that would work and then I would put my 100% trust in him. The best thing about making music is working with someone who is willing to experiment with you, and Faliq is just open-minded to everything.
What kept you both together?
I think it was a miracle. There were a bunch of random small miracles with the first one being our previous manager who was nice enough to lend us a space on top his cafe for us to use.
The second miracle was getting the most random call to be opening act for Tame Impala even though we weren't releasing anything. During the show we played four songs from Balada and the response was really good. People were excited about what we were going release and we thought people have forgotten about us.
The third miracle is having a number of music labels calling us up, and we ended up joining Yuna Room Records. That really saved the game.
What's your plan for the future?
We are thinking of penetrating more into the Malay market. In Balada, we released two Malay tracks and it was our first time making Malay songs. We didn't think we were going to have good feedback from the Malay speaking community and we would love to educate them when it comes to independant music, and the only way to do that is by speaking their language.
We think this is a good way to further expose the market to synth pop. We won't be forgetting our English fans; it is just our habit to not stay in the comfort zone.
What can the next generation look up to you with?
Perseverance. I know it is such a boring answer but it is true especially when it is so easy to quit these days. Everything is super fast nowadays that it is very easy to fall out of love with something. Perseverance is about staying with it and letting it grow on you. I think we have it the most because there were so many times we wanted to quit but we thought we should stay; it's been three years, what's another seven or 20 years.
By Dr. Mercola
Music predates language and speaks to us on a primal level. Thinking back to your adolescence, you probably associate key memories with the soundtracks that played during these formative years.
Before this, music likely began shaping your reality during infancy — there’s even evidence that babies respond to music while still in the womb. At the other end of the spectrum, elderly people, too, including those struggling with degenerative conditions, come alive again when they hear their favorite tunes.
“What is it about music that moves us so intensely and directly, and how can it be employed in the treatment of neurological and physical disorders?” Such are the questions answered and explored in the above documentary, “Music on the Brain.”
Miraculous Results Simply by Sharing Music With Dementia Patients
In the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, patients often become moody and withdrawn. They may forget events as well as their own personal history, leading to a loss of identity and self.
The simple act of listening to music may help people with Alzheimer’s to reconnect with the people around them and even remember past life events, which is why the non-profit organization Music & Memory has made this their mission.
The organization works with nursing home staff and elder care professionals, along with family caregivers, to create and provide personalized music playlists using digital audio systems like iPods to people with dementia.
When executive director Dan Cohen first thought of the idea in 2006, he was surprised that none of the 16,000 long-term care facilities in the U.S. used iPods for their residents.
He spearheaded efforts to change that, and today personalized music programs are available in thousands of nursing homes and other facilities in the U.S., Canada, Europe and beyond.
In the video below you can see a clip of nursing-home resident Henry, who was “reawakened” by listening to his favorite musical artist, Cab Calloway.
As Music & Memory put it, “These musical favorites tap deep memories not lost to dementia and can bring participants back to life, enabling them to feel like themselves again, to converse, socialize and stay present … The results can be nothing short of miraculous.” The video below speaks for itself.
Personalized Music May Reduce Agitation and Use of Drugs in Alzheimer’s Patients
It’s interesting to note that some of music’s benefits appear to be rooted in its familiarity. That is, a person’s favorite music or songs they associate with important events can trigger a memory of the song’s lyrics, the related event and even the feelings and experience of it.
In many cases, listening to individualized music appears to be more effective than listening to a random song.
In one study of 39 people in a long-term care facility in Iowa, for example, listening to individualized music led to a significant reduction in agitation (such as anxiety, shouting and irritability) both during and after the session — more so than occurred when residents listened to generic classical relaxation music.
Other research has shown individualized music may calm agitated patients and lead to significantly lower anxiety scores.
The success of the technique depends on nursing staff being able to figure out a patient’s musical preferences, which is why you may want to ask your aging relatives about their favorite songs now (or relay yours to your caregivers) just in case.
It’s also dependent on a person’s interest in music throughout life. You needn’t be overly musical to appreciate music emotionally, as virtually everyone does, but as written in the World Journal of Psychiatry (WJP):
“ … [I]t would not be appropriate for a person who did not have an appreciation for music prior to the onset of cognitive impairment. A positive correlation is expected between the degree of significance that music had in the person’s life prior to the onset of dementia and effectiveness of the intervention.”
However, listening to music is a simple, inexpensive and risk-free intervention that has the potential to benefit many.
The response from nursing homes that have implemented Music & Memory’s individualized music program has been overwhelmingly positive, with many even reporting reduced drug use as a result. Margaret Rivers of Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital & Nursing Facility in New York City told Music & Memory:
“One of the more positive results we’re seeing is a reduction in the need for psychotropic medication. Music soothes the residents to the point where they actually may not need all of the medications that they needed prior to going on [Music & Memory’s] program.”
Familiar Songs May Help Alzheimer’s Patients Recall Memories
When you listen to music, a broad range of neural networks become engaged, including those linked to autobiographical memories and emotions. The brain region behind your forehead, known as the medial prefrontal cortex, is one of the last to atrophy among Alzheimer’s patients; it’s also the hub that music activates.
Petr Janata, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at University of California (UC) Davis’ Center for Mind and Brain, conducted a study to map the brain activity of subjects as they listened to music. He said in a press release:
“What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head.
It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person’s face in your mind’s eye … Now we can see the association between those two things — the music and the memories.”
Janata is among those who believe providing Alzheimer’s patients with digital music players and customized playlists could improve their quality of life. In some cases it may also help them to share those memories as well.
When Alzheimer's patients sat in rooms filled with music and were asked to tell a story about their life, their stories contained more meaningful words, were more grammatically complex, and conveyed more information (per number of words) than stories told in a silent room.
The findings suggest that exposure to music may help people with Alzheimer's disease to overcome neurolinguistic limitations. This makes sense, the study's co-author noted, because "music and language processing share a common neural basis." In the video below, the late Dr. Oliver Sacks, neurologist and author of “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain,” explained how listening to familiar music may allow Alzheimer’s patients to access personal memories that have otherwise become inaccessible.
Your Brain Is Hard-Wired to Respond to Music
Music on the Brain discusses that music may have evolved from an earlier form of emotional communication, an emotional proto-language of the sort you may hear between a mother and a baby. Tone of voice and pitch are incredibly important before language emerges, and it’s thought this early form of communication eventually split into language, which conveys more information, and music, which conveys emotion.
When you hear music, many areas of your brain light up. Music triggers activity in the nucleus accumbens, a part of your brain that releases the feel-good chemical dopamine and is involved in forming expectations.
At the same time, the amygdala, which is involved in processing emotion, and the prefrontal cortex, which makes possible abstract decision-making, are also activated. Meanwhile, oxytocin, the bonding hormone that’s released when we interact with our loved ones, is also released by music, specifically by singing together.
Many evolutionary biologists believe that music was fundamental in our ability to function as humans and hold together large communities of people, as music is capable of producing oxytocin, i.e., bonding and sharing emotions, on a massive scale.
Music Helps People With Parkinson’s Disease Move More Freely
Even brain areas that control movement are affected by music. This may seem strange until you consider that movement, such as drumming, was once essential to creating music. Today, music is now being used to help people with diseases like Parkinson’s to move more freely.
Slowness, tremor, stiffness and impaired balance are common in Parkinson’s patients, but emerging research suggests music may be an effective non-drug intervention. People who ordinarily are unable to control their movements are suddenly able to follow the beat of a song and dance. The music seems to provide an external rhythm that bypasses the malfunctioning signals in the brain.
A variety of neurological disorders have shown improvement from music-based interventions, including not only Parkinson’s disease but also multiple sclerosis and stroke. In fact, music-based interventions had similar or greater effects than conventional rehabilitation on upper limb function, mobility and cognition among people with neurological disorders.
Music Opens a Back Door for Memory Recall in Your Brain
By tapping areas of your brain linked to both emotions and memory, music can act as a back door to help you access past events that would otherwise be lost. As Music & Memory put it:
“Even for persons with severe dementia, music can tap deep emotional recall. For individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s, memory for things — names, places [and] facts — is compromised, but memories from our teenage years can be well-preserved.
Favorite music or songs associated with important personal events can trigger memory of lyrics and the experience connected to the music. Beloved music often calms chaotic brain activity and enables the listener to focus on the present moment and regain a connection to others.
Persons with dementia, Parkinson’s and other diseases that damage brain chemistry also reconnect to the world and gain improved quality of life from listening to personal music favorites.”
If you’re a caregiver to someone with dementia, creating a personalized playlist for him or her is a simple way to help them reconnect with the outside world and feel like themselves again, even for a little while.
On a larger scale, if you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may want to suggest they consider the use of individualized music for their residents. Music & Memory also accepts donations of gently used Apple music players, including iPods, iPhones or iPads. If you have one you’re no longer using, consider donating it to this worthwhile cause.
No love songs for her
Article from the Sun daily by Jessica Chua (posted on 27 September 2016)
TAKAHARA Suiko aka The Venopian Solitude’s first attempt at writing happened when she was griping about her brother on her blog using metaphors. She was only 14 when she learnt how to mask her words. Little did she know, she was paving the way for songwriting.
“It’s a horrible way to start writing, but it taught me how to be creative,” said the 26-year-old.
Despite her growing interest in music, Takahara took up electronic engineering in Japan to appease her parents. But as she was about to finish her diploma, she concluded that studying engineering became a chore, and she just wasn’t cut out for it.
So Takahara returned to Malaysia to focus on creating music – producing a number of EPs along the way, and even released her first full-length album Hikayat Perawan Majnun in 2014. The singer-songwriter dabbles in various sounds and genres, but one thing’s for sure: she doesn’t write love songs.
“I tried to but I couldn’t. It’s just too personal. Even if I did, I wouldn’t put it out,” she said.
Takahara recently hit another milestone as she’s the first Malaysian artiste selected – among thousands from over 100 countries – to attend the esteemed Red Bull Music Academy in Montreal this September.
“I'm trying not to let the pressure of being the first Malaysian alumna get to me because it will definitely distract me from learning as much as I can, and to some extent, basking in Montreal while I'm there,” she divulged.
Could you recall the beginning of your affair with music?
I started composing music in standard two or three. I wanted to take up piano but my mother didn’t allow it. So I started making melodies using my father’s phone instead. That was when phones had monotone sounds you can play with. I never had any exposure to musical instruments except for the recorder in school. So it was either that or the phone.
How would you describe your music?
It’s really loud and annoying. I say that because I don’t know what kind of style it is. It changes from song to song. If you don’t agree with that and you happen to like it, then good for you. I scream a lot when I perform live – it’s necessary to convey the emotion that was written for that part of the lyrics or song.
What is music to you?
Music is something as natural as breathing and eating. I don’t pride myself in doing music because it’s like having pride in eating and breathing. Everyone does that. But it comes naturally to me that it doesn’t become a thing that I focus on. Like eating and brushing my teeth afterwards, music is something that I have to do, whether I like it or not.
The best piece of advice you’ve ever received.
There are several but the one that I really remember is by Fynn Jamal. She told me to make my own path, and that I cannot follow other people’s paths because I’m different. While everyone else walks down a certain path, it was actually easier for me to make something of my own because the other paths were already crowded. To me, that was a revelation.
What is your main goal?
I would like to experience a black hole. I guess that’s the metaphor of my dream; to understand something that I don’t understand, and to understand as many things as I can.
Where do you want to see this industry go?
All fields have to collaborate to make every field relevant to each other, which can foster appreciation. People are starting to appreciate some form of art now, like a nice-looking tudung or a locally made T-shirt. To me, that direction will head towards performing arts as well. For example, Yuna incorporated a silat artist and ballerina in her recent music video. But right now, it’s too early to say whether or not it’ll work. It will take time. But what matters is that we keep doing it.
Favourite time of the day: When she goes to bed.
Childhood ambition: Doctor.
Currently on repeat: Yuna’s Unrequited Love.
Where to find her: Takahara Suiko (YouTube), The Venopian Solitude (Bandcamp)
By Health+ Magazine
What if I tell you that music isn’t just good for your ears but your health too? Based on recent study, music has been found particularly effective in improving health, both physically and mentally. No kidding.
Here are FIVE reasons why:
1. ACTS AS A PAIN KILLER
Music can help a person feel less pain as it is a form of distraction. Many hospitals are using this method to complement the anesthesia given to patients particularly during labour. This will further decrease post-natal anxiety and pain while lowering the chances of postpartum depression. The next time you’re in pain, skip the pills and give music a try.
2. BOOSTS IMMUNE SYSTEM
Certain type of music can create a positive and profound emotional experience, which helps produce immune boosting hormones. This helps reducing the factors responsible for illness.
3. SLEEP BETTER
Don’t you just miss being well-rested? Listening to classical music has been shown to effectively treat insomnia in college students by helping them relax. Perhaps the slow music works as a lullaby to those who aren’t able to sleep naturally.
4. BAD MOOD NO MORE
It’s not something new that music can help improve your mood depending on the genre. Go for a more upbeat music to start your day right.
5. AIDS MEMORY
It has been proven that music helps to recall information. Which means whatever you’ve learned while listening to a particular song can often be recalled by “playing” the song mentally.
Finally, more reasons to have your headphones on!
Striking a chord
Article from the Sun daily by Pam Kaur (posted on 23 Feb 2016)
THE formative years of Wanted Symphony were most definitely rocky, even if it's impossible to guess with the strong bond shared between its members Daniel Wong, Andrew Mok and Aaron Jiam.
But with a shared passion for good music, Wong, Mok and Jiam overcame the obstacles with plenty of communication and familiarising with each other's tastes in music, to get their band up and running.
This year, the alternative rock outfit is embracing their sixth anniversary, and not only does the trio make music together; they have become the best of buddies searching for the same goals in music.
Lead vocalist Wong, 26, guitarist Mok, 23, and drummer Jiam, 25 have full-time jobs and play as Wanted Symphony after work and during the weekends.
But juggling between two vocations did not stop them from winning several awards including at the 2012 VIMA Music Awards, and performing at Urbanscapes and the Shout! Awards.
How did the name 'Wanted Symphony' come about?
We were randomly sharing words and names that resembled us. After awhile, the word 'symphony' was mentioned and it felt right so we decided to keep it. 'Wanted' on the other hand, was decided after weeks of deliberation because we wanted to make people who listen to our music feel like they want more.
What are some of the things that inspire your compositions?
Things that happen in our lives inspire us; usually drawn from relationships and our perspective on things. Funnily, some of our music was composed based on a chord that was struck on the guitar at 4am which felt so right.
Could you share your passions as a band, other than music?
Being Malaysians, who are juggling two different roles in our full-time jobs and the band, we often gather to participate in our favourite activity: eating. We are passionate about food because we seem to bond better around a meal.
How does Wanted Symphony stand out from so many other bands out there?
We choose to believe that we're different from how we try to present ourselves. We try to engage with our audience and fans through a monthly series that we hold, known as Soundstruck: LIVE. This is our initiative to give back to the people who have given us so much through their endless support. At Soundstruck: LIVE, we create a platform for young, passionate and potential musicians like us to unleash their talents. We've been running this for almost two years now.
Name us a key factor that makes your music unique.
We create music from our hearts. We take our music very seriously and each note we play has an expression of its own.
How do you guys juggle between the band and a full-time job?
It is not easy. We won't deny that it is a challenge,
and sometimes it does get to us. However, we are driven by passion. We do it because we love what we do. There are many sacrifices and compromises that we have been making on this journey but we've gotten used to it.
More than a song
Article from the Sun daily by Joyce Ang (posted on 11 Feb 2016)
BELIEVE it or not, there was a time when Razlan Shah was ridiculed for his horrendous singing , or so he claimed.
"I used to busk at Telawi Street in Bangsar because I was so bad that I wasn't allowed to sing in the house, and oh my goodness, the amount of heckling and trash thrown into my guitar case was unbelievable," he laughed.
However, that experience spurred him on to pursue what he loves – regardless of the rejections and obstacles that came his way – at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
Now, not only is the 25-year-old an artiste in his own right, he also manages Najwa Mahiaddin, Bassment Syndicate, and Kyoto Protocol.
Would you ever only sing or manage?
As an artiste, I love singing as a mode of expression, but I like to look at different avenues or different mediums to find expression. With management, it's not so much about expressing, but letting artistes express what they really want, as opposed to making them create content that is geared towards generic interest.
The artistes I work with have completely different dreams and creative methods, so it's always fun to explore those with them, and work with their craft. It's a very rewarding process because instead of just working on me, I get to work on other people! It is one thing to make your dreams come true, but a completely different feeling to make another person's dream come true.
What's your take on the Malaysian music industry?
Like any arts industry in Malaysia, it has great potential. We have so much to share! However, I think the biggest obstacle to its growth is the lack of gumption in artistes. A lot of Malaysian artistes are big fishes in small ponds, but many stop when they've attained some sort of achievement, then move on to something else. I want more people to be hungry to do something bigger. The world is so connected and globalised now; it is disappointing to see only a handful of Malaysian artistes that have crossed borders. We have numerous artistes with great original sound – I want more of that – and I'm proud to say that the artistes that I work with are keen to do more.
As an artiste, what do you want to achieve through your art?
You know how sometimes when you watch a film, something they do or say just strikes you and you go, 'Wow, I've never thought of it that way before!'? I want to do that with my art. I want to bring people fresh perspective and different angles to a thought.
What would you like to do before you reach 30?
I want to see my artistes grow and achieve their dreams. For myself, I will release my art just for that sake and not so much to gain awards or airtime.
If anybody wants to listen to my music, by all means they shall. In fact, I will be releasing my next EP, Hounds, for free for the first few months. I also want to hopefully start creating films.
Tell us more about Hounds.
Hounds refer to the hunting dog, which is a metaphor for searching. It is for the twenty-somethings, and is essentially about the pursuit of purpose, and that includes self-doubt, finding inner confidence and the sense of self. It has about five songs; and I have released, with Darren Ashley, a music video for Jungle, one of the singles from the EP.
Songs for the soul
Article from the Sun daily by Joyce Ang (posted on 11 Dec 2015)
FROM learning the piano at the tender age of three to graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, music has always been a prominent part of Najwa Mahiaddin’s life.
“Ever since I was little, I have always been intrigued by music. It always makes me feel something; it was a way for me to express myself,” said the contemporary writing and production graduate.
Now 29, the songstress has performed on many renowned stages, and received some of the most prestigious awards in the Malaysian music industry.
However, even with all that she’s achieved so far, what matters most to her is the impact of her music on people.
How did you get started in this industry?
The very first time I got a gig was actually through Mia Palencia. I was still studying when I attended one of her workshops, where I got to sing one of my originals.
After the performance, she approached me and told me that she liked my performance, and invited me to be featured on one of her projects, the Bedroom Musician series. That was my first show as a singer-songwriter playing my own music.
It was a nice feeling, just me on the keyboard. Then, Reza Salleh, one of the pioneers in the Malaysian singer-songwriter scene, came up to me and offered me another gig.
From there, I was offered more gigs on various stages and at different venues, including No Black Tie.
Describe an event that shaped who you are today.
There was a time when I was going through a lot of things that I was unhappy about, and I was using music to make me feel better.
Ironically, however, I did not write many sad songs at that time. That was when I knew for sure that I wanted to do music badly.
The moment my parents gave me the green light to pursue music was a turning point in my life because music has finally become more than just a hobby. I was enrolled into music school, and it was then that I felt like I was where I was meant to be.
From that day forth, I cannot think of anything else that I would rather be doing. Had that not happened, I would have been really depressed.
Can you share with us some of your accomplishments?
As an artiste, I want to give people a moment away from what they are going through and to give them hope despite everything, as well as to help people heal from past experiences.
For example, every time I perform After The Rain, a lot of people come up to tell me that the song resonated with them. To me, accomplishments are not just about winning awards. To be able to touch lives already makes me feel like a winner.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope to travel more. I hope to spread my music to more places, experience different cultures, and to collaborate with people from all around the globe – a privilege I had while I was at Berklee, without all the travelling.
I would also like to bring traditional Malaysian music to other parts of the world, and educate the rest of the world about the music that we have here.
Tell us more about your latest song, "Sama Saja"?
The song is about how we are all different in culture, opinion, et cetera, but essentially the same at the end of the day. It’s the first time that people were invited to watch and be part of the video shoot, so I’m very excited about it.
Ultimate comfort food: Mum’s cooking.
Favourite festive season: “I’m Malaysian, so it’s hard to choose one. I would say all of the festive seasons!”
Favourite musicians: Lalah Hathaway, Emily King, Little Dragon.
Favourite movies: Grease (1978) and Mary Poppins (1964).
The girl who does everything
Article from the Sun daily by Jessica Chua (posted on 17 Dec 2015)
STUDYING at Berklee College of Music is possibly on the bucket list of every aspiring musician. This dream is not as far-fetched as it once was for Annatasha Saifol because she is well on her way to joining the likes of John Mayer and Steven Tyler as alumni of the world's largest independent college of contemporary music.
Annatasha's entry into the renowned music school in Boston was quite a process. She waited three months to audition at the International College of Music, and stuck around for another four months before she could take a 12-week online music fundamentals course. Her blood, sweat and tears finally paid off when she got accepted into Berklee to study Music Production and Engineering.
Despite pursuing culinary arts after high school, running an online pastry business, and freelancing as a photographer, she never let go of her dream career in music because it is something that never ceased to fascinate her.
"Music has always been a big part of me since I was really young. The fact that a collection of sounds, with or without words, can trigger emotions really sparked my interest," explained the 22-year-old.
How has your experience in Berklee been so far?
The experience is unexplainable. Sure, music can be studied anywhere across the world. But in Berklee, the people you meet and the opportunities that come by are so rare. All the friends and teachers I've met over the past two semesters have been incredible. On the other hand, there have also been tough times when I felt absolutely incompetent. Everyone around me is so talented and they constantly remind me of my insecurity. I struggled to better myself as a musician, but after a while I got over it because that's what I'm here for – to be better at what I do.
What drives your passion in music?
The same thing that drives my love for cooking. Watching people enjoy what you do is like watching people eat your food. Going to a concert and feeling the way I do, or watching the people react to music the way they do, that drives my passion. It reminds me of how impactful music is. I guess you could also say that curiosity drives my passion in music, because I want to know exactly what makes great music, great!
Tell us about the ups and downs of being a musician.
Being your own biggest critique is definitely both an up and down of being a musician. You always want to improve your work, to be a better musician, but sometimes you're so hard on yourself that you don't get anything done! That's something I battle with a lot.
What do you hope to speak through your music?
Above anything else, I want every listener to know that they are not alone at any point of their lives. It is important for me to remind all my young friends out there that no matter how quiet it gets, my music can help to fill that void. I want to be their companion, musically.
How would you encourage your peers in this generation to pursue their passion?
Even if life throws you off-track, persevere. As long as you keep on wanting, whatever life brings, you will end up closer to your passion. I did photography and culinary arts, still dreaming about music at the time. But had I not done culinary school, my pastry business and freelance photography, I would never have saved enough money to come to Berklee. A certain path may seem irrelevant to your passion, but keep that fire burning and you will eventually get there.