August Man Proudly Presents Men Of The Year 2018 – AUGUSTMAN


In partnership with

Words by KC Yap, Celeste Goh, Jessica Fang & Grace Naramol; photography by Kim Mun/Hopscotch Studio; creative direction by Ibnu Aswan; art direction & styling by Joyce Lim; make-up by Joey Yap & Wanning; hair-styling by Mavis Ang & Derren Fong/Shawn Cutler; wardrobe by Bottega Veneta; watches by TAG Heuer; car by Mercedes-Benz Malaysia

As the magazine serves to define the lifestyle and passion of the modern gentleman, our Men of the Year truly are the soul of the August Man, the epitome of success, conviction and inspiration. In our 2018 edition, we celebrate the collaborative spirit of the time – the collective power of passionate, creative individuals who have banded together as a company, partners, co-founders and  in pursuit of making a change and leaving their personal marks. This brings us to a total of 18 recipients across 10 categories.

As 2018 also marks the 10th anniversary of Men of the Year, August Man Malaysia, in collaboration with Johnnie Walker, has taken the occasion to introduce four new exclusive awards – the Johnnie Walker Blue Label 1-in-10,000 Awards. Inspired by the making of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label where only 1 in every 10,000 casks has the elusive quality and character to deliver the exquisite signature taste, the awards are presented to four special individuals from our past 10 years of Men of the Year, each of whom best exemplifies one of the four main virtues of the Blue Label: Rare Craft, Rare Legacy, Rare Character and Keep Walking.


MEN OF THE YEAR 2018: STYLE

SHAHRIN BAHAR

Outfit by BOTTEGA VENETA; Aquaracer Calibre 5 Automatic in 43mm stainless steel with ceramic bezel and stainless steel bracelet by TAG HEUER

Great Things Take Time

Fashion comes and goes, but style is forever – that, with a little bit of honesty, a pinch of humbleness, and a whole lot of patience, and one would arrive at the strenuous milestone tailoring designer Shahrin Bahar has reached so far. He started out in 2007 making made-to-measure and bespoke suits for friends, but his reputation soon preceded him and, through word of mouth, Shahrin was able to set up S Bahar in September 2016, a small outfit that carries a household name in Malaysia for made-to-measure and bespoke tailoring; a little gentleman’s secret, if you may, which eventually grew with good traction and feedback from his supportive clientele.

What made you decide to set up S Bahar in 2016?

I was aware that there was a little gap in the market that I believe I could fill in, that I could introduce to the market – that was several years prior to starting up S Bahar, when I was abroad in Amsterdam for two and a half years. The obstacle was to find a team that understood my vision for S Bahar. Once that was done and dusted, and I returned from Amsterdam, everything just fell into place quite easily, mainly because we knew that certain flavour that we felt would appeal to the crowd, especially in Malaysia. Had I established the brick and mortar store some eight years ago, I don’t think things would’ve gone down as planned. It gave me the time I needed to get the right experience, the right knowledge, the right mentorship, and the right amount of, dare I say, procrastination as well.

How do you hold true to that commitment? 

When I decided to start my own label, I knew that I must not compare myself with other fashion houses. I pictured myself and the whole brand as a tailoring atelier and as such would just focus instead on having a distinct house cut and a distinct DNA for the brand. It should be a stepping stone from then on that we could hold our ground, and believe in what we are.

What would you say is the highlight of your career?

Just meeting a lot of great individuals through our by-appointments-only setup – from different parts of the country, the region even. These people used to be just clients , but now, they are acquaintances or even good friends. I’ve been inspired by entrepreneurs who share their trials and tribulations, and have had the honour of being chosen to dress them on one of the most memorable days of their lives… the wisdom and strength accumulate over time.

With what I do, I finally get the emotional connection that I needed for so long. If I were in another fashion house, it would probably be all about foreseeing what would be in trend six months down the line, having a mood board of what he might like based on say, what music he listens to. Tailoring is more of giving what people like or need, instead of directing them in what they like or need. The heartfelt one-on-one conversations with customers, while I’m making a living out of something I love – that’s second to none.


MEN OF THE YEAR 2018: SPORT

JAZEMAN JAAFAR, NABIL JEFFRI & WEIRON TAN

Outfits by BOTTEGA VENETA; Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe by MERCEDES-BENZ

The Power Of Three

As the first all-Malaysian racing squad to compete in the World Endurance Championship (WEC), Jackie Chan DC Racing’s drivers Jazeman Jaafar, Nabil Jeffri and Weiron Tan made history for the nation this year by winning the LMP2 class in 6 Hours of Fuji, their second consecutive podium win in the prestigious Championship. Prior to this, the dynamic trio finished second in 6 Hours of Silverstone, which was preceded by a fourth place at the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Despite sharing the same roots in karting from a tender age, the three had since charted their own individual course in motorsport, predominantly as single-seat Formula racers – Jazeman, a runner-up in the British Formula 3 Championship and a winner in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series; Nabil, overall second in the German Formula 3 Championship, not to mention the youngest ever test driver in Formula 1 history; and Weiron, overall fourth in the Pro Mazda Championship with four victories. Through the SIC Talent Development Initiative in collaboration with Jackie Chan DC Racing, the three passionate drivers have since the beginning of the year formed a tight unit, sharing the #37 Oreca 07 nicknamed Fortune Cat.

How would you describe the synergy of the team? 

J: We have different characters. Each of us comes from a different discipline, which makes the team whole when combined. The joy of training, travelling, eating together is something that money can’t buy. It’s a special bond of being one in mind and spirit, sharing a common goal and passion.

W: I always thought that these guys were super serious, which they are, if need be, but upon working together, I found them to be surprisingly cool and easy to get along with.

N: It’s something new for me, working with Weiron and Jazeman. Endurance racing is a new chapter for me. Before, it has always been individual sports. This year has really opened my eyes to team work – working together, winning together.

What have been the challenges thus far? 

N: From our first test at the Paul Ricard Circuit in France, it has been about knowing each other better; figuring out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. There were some ups and downs along the way, but that has only helped us discover more about each other and made us even tighter.

W: Trying to perfect everything. At such a high level of competition, the only way to win is to be free from any mistake, to be extremely precise. I believe the reason we won at Fuji was we had the fewest errors compared with other teams.

J: Adaptation. The Jackie Chan DC Racing team was a whole new environment. For us to adapt, to have the same goal and move in the same direction was a challenge at first, but once we got the right formula, it became easier. You can see it in the buildup of our performance and that we’ve been fighting, trying to find the right adaptation strategies.

How do you cope with pressure?

J: I normally like to take a moment to be on my own, with my music, just so that I can maintain my focus. Sometimes there are just a lot of things happening around you, like the media, the sponsors, your performance, etc. All this builds up even before the race. Your performance has a lot to do with how focused you are when you arrive at a race.

How do you find success at a young age?

J: It’s overwhelming. There are all these big stars up there, like Alonso, Button, etc. These were the guys we looked up to growing up, but now we’re racing side by side against them. It’s overwhelming but at the same time pushes us into giving our best.


MEN OF THE YEAR 2018: ENTERTAINMENT

BATE/DJ DUO ETHAN CURZON & YEOH WAI HONG

Outfits by BOTTEGA VENETA; (On Ethan) Aquaracer Calibre 5 Automatic in 43mm stainless steel with ceramic bezel and stainless steel bracelet by TAG HEUER; (On Wai Hong) Formula 1 Chronograph in 43mm stainless steel with matching steel bracelet by TAG HEUER

It Takes Two

DJ duo Ethan Curzon and Yeoh Wai Hong’s music career began in a rather conventional way, much like how music collectives around the world do: despite running around in the same crowd back in high school, they barely spoke a word to each other, until their common interest for dance music drew them together. Six years prior, BATE was paired up by their sifu DJ Classick, and for about a year or two, mucked about in the dance music circuit playing small gigs, under the mentorships of notable local DJs like Blink and Goldfish.

However, how they get to where they are today, depends on the hard work they put into their career. This year, BATE went viral after they dropped their first single, One I Love, which featured 19-year-old Australian singer Blake Rose. “It’s all within reach, it’s just how you get to where you want to go,” Ethan quips.

What is your secret to success? 

We won’t say that there is a formula to it, but there are ethics. It’s all about the hard work, and if you really want it, you have to go for it. If you work hard enough, someone will realise your hard work and you will get somewhere. It’s something that we have always believed in for a long time. It also has a lot to do with trust and patience for us. If either of us does a mistake, or if there were any miscommunications between us, we’d just lay them all out on the table and talk about it. It’s not easy to stay with someone for eight years; heck, it’s even longer than any of our personal relationships!

What is the highlight of the year for BATE? 

It would definitely have to be this year, as we released our single, One I Love. To date, we have achieved close to 12 million streams on Spotify; that’s quite an achievement for us. The song was on the local Spotify viral playlist, as well as the global one topping at number 12 out of the top 50 list, which is a huge thing for us. Back then, when we first started six years ago, we were entranced with the novelty of it all, but when we reached this milestone this year, it’s a whole new ball game, and we realised that actually, it’s only the beginning of what we have been working on for so many years.

Do you have any upcoming projects to top this achievement?

We have laid down four tracks for an upcoming EP, two of which are original collaborations, the others perhaps international collaborations, like One I Love with Blake Rose. At this point, we don’t feel that we are ready for an album just yet. We’d probably want to spend time doing tours instead, hopefully in the US or Europe. Like we said, reaching 12 million streams is only the beginning. It doesn’t mean it’s done and dusted for us. You don’t want to end up as a one hit wonder. You want to keep going, keep being consistent and relevant.


MEN OF THE YEAR 2018: POP CULTURE

KELVIN LONG

Outfit by BOTTEGA VENETA; Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 Automatic Chronograph in 43mm stainless steel with ceramic bezel and stainless steel bracelet by TAG HEUER

Having A Laugh

It all began with a bad design of the Kuala Lumpur City Logo – not to mention the uninspiring and typical representations of the country – that fuelled the creative fire in Kelvin Long to kick start Apom!, a little outfit that established two years ago, pushing out witty products Malaysians would be proud to wear and carry around, even gift to their friends visiting from other countries.

“We are blessed to live in a country that is so much more than just the Twin Towers, the Rafflesia and the Hornbill,” he pipes in. “Apom! is our way to showcase the more colourful, unique and more interesting side of Malaysia. You know, celebrating Malaysia as Malaysians know it.”

What kind of impact do you think Apom! has made on society? 

The idea of Apom! is to get local Malaysians and tourists to be proud to wear something that’s Malaysian. And one of the reasons why our products always carry a humorous tone is because we want to get Malaysians to laugh at themselves. Just two years ago, it was a difficult time for Malaysians to even crack a smile, because of the different landscape that was happening back then – politically and economically. There were a lot of people that were having a tough time just getting by, and we want to create something to get people to just laugh at themselves a bit more.

What about when it comes to contributing to the local creative scene?

Since we started Apom! two years ago, we have come across a lot of other smaller Malaysian outfits or individuals who have been doing like-minded things as well: the popular Politiko card game by LoyarBurok, the people behind the Pantun enamel pins, Nadia Hasbi with her collection of yoga and fitness apparels for Fit Rebel… That’s when we decided to connect and collaborate with these different indie brands, pulling together the creators and curators into a common space where we can distribute their products – something that might not have gained as much traction if done individually. We realised that if we do this like-minded projects on our own, it’s very difficult to form something, but as a group we might just be able to pull it off together.

We also see Apom! as a platform to showcase lesser known people with amazing talents. We are currently working with Farhan Iqbal, the photographer behind Documenting Kuala. He realised that KL is changing so fast, and someday what we see now will be forgotten. He is an accountant by day, and after hours, he goes around the city taking photos, commemorating everything frame by frame. He has never thought about merchandising his photography, but when we approached him for a range of T-shirts, tote bags and possibly, a calendar for the New Year, it was another way for him to tell more people of the stories he has been capturing on camera.

What is your approach to success?

Personally, my standards aren’t very high (laughs). Just seeing someone wearing a T-shirt that we created, seeing customers come into our shop and looking at our products and having a laugh about it when they get the humour, being able to create cool Malaysian products that get people to carry around proudly, or bring home as souvenirs to another country – that’s success to me. If I can do this for a living, I’m already living the dream.


MEN OF THE YEAR 2018: SOCIAL INNOVATION

BRIAN TAN

Outfit by BOTTEGA VENETA

The Digital Bridge

Crossroads in life: we’ve all been there at some point or another, especially when it boils down to building a career. Despite an impressive resume spanning the likes of a Biochemistry Degree, a year of research at Oxford University and a Masters in Management from Imperial College, to name a few, Brian Tan had once found himself in the same boat.

Enter FutureLab (futurelab.my), the brainchild with co-founders Tai Fung Wei Tan and Clarissa Chang – a digital platform that connects enquiring minds like fresh graduates and aspiring entrepreneurs to global mentors consisting of industry professionals and established entrepreneurs.

What results have you seen so far in budding professionals who use your platform? 

We have been around for two years – to date, we have around 5,000 mentees from 60 countries, ranging from University students, fresh graduates and aspiring graduates. Our success stories include students securing their dream jobs, and mentees raising RM300,000 in funding to start their own companies. A lot of millennials may not know what they want to pursue after graduating, and they end up going down a path that they regret soon after. FutureLab helps them connect to mentors who have been there and done that, to help them find their own path. We have also integrated into MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre) where top promising startups in Southeast Asia apply FutureLab to connect to mentors around the world as part of their Global Accelerator Program.

Why do you think many graduates don’t really know what to expect when entering the job market?

We believe a robust feedback between the education institutions and the industry can help supplement the current syllabus with industrial insights. Technology is changing the world so quickly; it doesn’t matter which industry, companies find it hard to adapt to the technological changes. It is especially hard for university programs to keep up with the new roles and skills required by these evolving companies and industries. Our vision is to build said industry-to-education feedback loop that will allow students and educators to better prepare for the changing world, to help develop a growth mindset in the students, and to help them find jobs that make them feel they don’t have to work a day in their lives.

What do you think are qualities that graduates need to equip themselves with for the workplace?

I think to prepare yourself for the future workforce, graduates need to focus on developing a growth mindset – the idea of being a lifelong learner. As new technologies disrupt jobs and roles, having a growth mindset will give them the confidence to learn whatever new technology springs up next, and to adapt to the rapid industry changes.


MEN OF THE YEAR 2018: EDUCATION

RAJ RIDVAN SINGH

Outfit by BOTTEGA VENETA

Empowering with Education

“It’s not because I’m trying to be, like, POYO or whatever,” Teacher Raj Ridvan Singh explained his unconventional title. “The whole idea is to sort of get people to respect or recognise the field of teachers.” In 2000, he founded Science of Life Studies (SOLS) 24/7 with his father and brother, an NGO which educates and empowers underprivileged societies throughout the world.

At the tender age of 17, Teacher Raj was easily gearing up to be a technological prodigy. Instead he has since channelled his experiences and expertise into what has now become an award-winning social enterprise.

For someone so young to have such strong earning power to leave it behind to do humanitarian work full-time, what was the defining factor for that? 

Because my family had travelled a lot. When I was three I went to Papua New Guinea, and then I went to a boarding school in India for six months when I was seven. So you really get to see poverty and you understand poverty. It doesn’t make sense how, here I am, I have my video game in my hand and I have food to eat, and these people are struggling, collecting rubbish just for income. And you see this trend everywhere. To me, it just didn’t seem fair, when I was young. That’s such an unfair environment because no one chooses to be born into a family, or into a country, or into poverty.

How did you apply your educational experience to your programmes under SOLS 24/7? 

Many ways, so one, technology has been a very big part of my life. And I always believe technology can alleviate poverty 10 times faster than anything else. But somehow technology is constantly used to make, you know, college kids rich, or billionaires, but never really used to transform those in poor communities. And they are the ones who need it the most. So I always try to make sure that in whatever we do, we constantly try to innovate.

Why do you place a lot of focus on teaching English to these communities?

If you want to help someone get out of poverty, you have to get them a job. So we wanted to figure out what was the fastest skill that could enable them to do that. We found out by teaching them English, very, very quickly they would get a job – almost immediately. And their salary would double or triple that of a person with a technical background from a poor family. And we had developed a methodology that could teach someone with zero English how to speak what we call employable English, in a hundred hours. So that’s how we rapidly grew from Cambodia, with literally 24 kids living in my home, to a few thousand within three years.


MEN OF THE YEAR 2018: ART

SEAN LEAN

Outfit by BOTTEGA VENETA

Third Time’s A Charm

Three is a big number for artist Sean Lean this year. Not only is his latest artwork titled “3,” this marks his third solo exhibition (at Wei-Ling Gallery), three years after his last showing. It wasn’t on purpose though, he mused. “3” was simply and purely about Sean’s series of triptychs that each encompasses three separate panels of strong visual commentary on political, social and religious issues.

It was back in college that Sean found his calling. While studying digital animation, he attended a Fine Art seminar where he was evidently sold on what he describes as “the dream of this romantic lifestyle as an artist.” Reality however, was a little trickier.

What is the expectation versus reality aspect of being an artist?

It’s weird, I don’t know if it’s a very Malaysian thing, but every successful Malaysian artist that I know – they live the most boring life. It’s like, the more boring your life is, the more interesting your works are. It’s like, because being an artist you have no bosses, you kind of have to structure your own life. And being able to manifest your work physically, actually making work and not keep it in your own head, being productive; it’s a big part of being a full time artist. So it’s very important that you structure your life accordingly so that you can be productive, that you can share your ideas by making work. So yeah, it’s very different from imagining being an artist having a fast and loose lifestyle.

Your work throughout the years is quite different from one another. How would you describe your evolution as an artist?

I suppose it’s different on purpose, in a sense. I am naturally quite impatient. I tend not to be able to stick to one specific way of doing things for long. So after every body of work, I tend to try to find new things and new approaches to how I can make art. So that resulted in works that look quite different from one body to another.

Do you feel uncomfortable when you have to get really personal in your work?

Being an artist is very daunting, especially if you’re honest with yourself, and you produce work that is really honest. Like, my work is about my relationship with my dad. I didn’t want people to know that. It’s very raw, it’s very real, but I felt compelled to make that piece of work. And you go through that process of kind of revealing yourself, almost like, naked to the public, like, “look at me.” I think that’s a good practice to kind of relinquish your ego, in that sense. And when you have less ego about yourself, you have more confidence.


MEN OF THE YEAR 2018: ENTREPRENEURS

GAVIN LIEW & VINCE KOH

Outfits by BOTTEGA VENETA; (On Gavin) Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 Automatic Chronograph in 43mm stainless steel with ceramic bezel and stainless steel bracelet by TAG HEUER; (On Vince) Carrera Calibre 16 Automatic Chronograph in 41mm stainless steel with ceramic bezel and stainless steel bracelet by TAG HEUER

Building Homes For The Heart

Friends since high school, Gavin Liew and Vince Koh have started multiple entrepreneur ventures together – and failed almost as many times, before they cracked the code that changed the landscape of property investment almost four years ago. With their combined passion of creativity and property, The Makeover Guys entered the market with a then never-before-seen effortless solution for property investors: by providing strategic makeovers aimed to draw in higher returns through rental – all done within a cost effective budget, and a tight schedule with a turnover of just 30 days.

Today, The Makeover Guys have expanded its services via Groundwork Design for residential homes and privatised office spaces, such as Tang Space and Shang Gallery at KL Eco City, the rés280 co-working/communal living space in Selayang, and many other residences across Klang Valley and beyond. Not to mention, appearing on Astro OK’s 13-episode reality TV series, Ruang, in which Gavin, Vince and their 62-strong team were seen in action.

How do you keep things fresh at work?

When people talked about furnishing last time, durability is key. They want furniture that last 15 to 20 years. However, furnishing trends do change overtime. We provide template choices to allow you to keep refreshing your furnishing, without committing to the same old design from 20 years ago. That being said though, our materials and furnishing do last (laughs)! So, if you’re one of those property investors who’d prefer to keep to the same design 20 years from now, it’s possible too. That’s the ideology behind what we do, and that’s how we keep things fresh – in the most literal sense!

How do you think The Makeover Guys contribute to, not only property investment, but the public as a whole?

At the end of the day, we want to enable more people to enjoy better homes, that are cost effective, not to mention, look good in the long run. Less than five years ago, the idea of having cost effective furnishing did not exist. We were property investors ourselves in the beginning, and we experienced first hand the trouble that goes into furnishing our own units. Buying a property for anyone should be a happy thing; it’s something exciting. But in reality, the happiness soon fades the minute you realise that there is so much to do for this new home! On top of that, developers approached us to service the market with fully furnished packages, and easy move-in kind of concept. That got us thinking: if there is one thing we really need to solve in the property market, it is actually the accessibility of renovation. We noticed the big gap in between going from a house to a home, and we believe The Makeover Guys could fill in that gap.

One the other hand, how do you think The Makeover Guys has changed the entrepreneur landscape?

It’s safe to say that we are the pioneers. When we first started, as with most businesses that managed to break new ground, it was a bit challenging to get people to accept what we are doing. Today, we see a lot of people emulating the same business platform. What we have been seeing is a downward pressure in pricing for cost effective furnishing – which used to be thought as a luxury for the privileged. Mindsets have changed, and supplies are growing to meet the demands, which at the end of the day, benefits the entire industry.


MEN OF THE YEAR 2018: FILM

ADRIAN TEH

Outfit by BOTTEGA VENETA

Blood, Sweat & Tears

We may never know the true extent of the hard work that goes on behind the camera — the efforts of the ones who set the scene, bringing life to stories and ideas. And having the director not just behind the camera, but also working and training alongside his cast, is truly another level of commitment to storytelling.

Filmed in Malay and written and directed by Adrian Teh, PASKAL: The Movie gives people the sense of homegrown patriotism that’s meant to be instilled in every citizen. Being the first action flick Teh has ever done, he’s surpassed expectations and trumped a new genre in filmography. Based on true events, PASKAL (abbreviated from Pasukan Khas Laut) is about an elite unit of the Royal Malaysian Navy Force (TLDM). Lieutenant Commander Arman Anwar and his team set out on a mission to rescue a tanker, MV Bunga Laurel, which was hijacked by Somali pirates. Amidst this, Arman’s mother remains disgruntled about his choices, having lost her husband in a similar predicament.

Like most Malaysians who, prior to this movie, might not have known about PASKAL, Teh did not as well. Having been informed by a friend, Teh grew curious and from there began his research. This brought us a film that entertained us and heartened us to the sacrifices made by our unsung heroes in the military. Teh had his fair share of negative and unsupportive opinions during pre-production, but was headstrong and adamant enough to challenge other people’s beliefs, pushing all of his boundaries in the process.

What was it like meeting the real-life heroes that you film is based on?

I’ve met a lot of actual heroes. There are three incidents or missions that took place in real life in the movie. The first two were actually inspired by three events. I’m very lucky and grateful to have met some of them who were actually involved. They’re just like us, the first Laksamana Panglima, he’s the chief of PASKAL, he was the one who did the mission back in 1998, where he single-handedly rescued five hostages from a group of rebels. So I met him and he’s just like any other uncle you’d see in a mamak, very low profile, very soft spoken, and very humble. He knows what he can do, his responsibility and duty to the nation. When I speak to someone like him, I feel very small. The way he carried himself made me feel very little, but that’s why I felt very privileged to have been able to learn from someone like him.

How do you think the local industry can up their game?

Myself and other local film producers and directors are trying to expand our industry to the foreign markets. I’ve been doing that for the past five to 10 years. For all my works, I’ve screened them not only in Malaysia, but mostly in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan too. While Hong Kong and Taiwan do not have a quota, China has, as it is the biggest pie in the world. I’ve managed to sell a few movies there as well. As a local film director, and producer, for us to be able to travel, we need to deliver a quality product for people to watch. That’s how I think we can go further.

What’s your advice for aspiring filmmakers?

I think in order to achieve anything you must have this sort of determination and belief in yourself that you can and you will be able to deliver without being put down by others’ opinions. Eventually, you’ll be the one doing it, and you’re the one who’s going to work it out. Find a way, find a source of inspiration and determination. Being stubborn is key to success.


MEN OF THE YEAR 2018: MUSIC

KYOTO PROTOCOL

Outfits by BOTTEGA VENETA; Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe by MERCEDES-BENZ

The Power Of Rock

Over the past nine years, Kyoto Protocol has easily become a household name for Malaysian rock music. Comprising of band members Fuad, Gael, Hairi, Shaq and Shan, Kyoto Protocol is no stranger to headlining music events that take place throughout the nation – not to mention touring the likes of Japan and Singapore.

The band released their third album titled The Pen is Mightier at this year’s Good Vibes Festival, with singles like Delta Wing and Guilty Plea leading the way. “It’s making the music that we really want to make,” singer Fuad shares with us, adding that the band has come out stronger than before, following a journey that had plenty of ups and downs.

Tell us about your latest album The Pen is Mightier.

F: I think it was almost a way to get over hardship. So it was about finding writing as the outlet, and therefore the pen is my guild. But also in our personal lives, I feel that words can also make or break us. So that’s why it’s a true power that sometimes we should use responsibly. So that’s what I felt about this album – it was nice to get out of a songwriting dark, which was maybe three years plus.

And then what was also really cool was that I felt we have learnt a lot of lessons in our journey so far as musicians. And this is the album where we get to showcase all of those tricks and our newfound prowess. Not from the point of view, like, I can play how many notes per minute, but more of, the songs feel more balanced and convey emotions better, with a good mix of tension and release. I feel like it really feels more complete than anything that we’ve done before.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge being a primarily English-language band in Malaysia?

H: I feel like, talking about media perspective, English radio is focusing more solely on international artists. And we’re kind of stuck in the middle, we can’t really go to the English radio stations and we can’t really go to the Malay radio stations where they focus more on local artists. I think that’s the biggest challenge anyone has ever faced, being an English band in Malaysia.

F: I do feel it is challenging but at the same time it makes us unique – different slices of cake, that’s how we look at it. If we wanted to be like somebody else we would just be another chocolate cake. Whereas we get to be strawberry cheesecake. So that’s nice.

What do you think of the current state of rock music in Malaysia?

F: I like to focus on the fact people are sad because they miss it. It means that people actually do care about rock. And just with every form of music: rap today is not what rap was 10 years ago, and neither will rock today be what rock was 10 years ago. People change and people try to evolve and find a new path. I really like the music landscape of today. I feel it’s very democratic. People can choose what they want to listen to, and people can choose who they want to be in terms of an artist. I think I look forward to the new era of rock.

Do you consider yourselves lucky to have found each other as bandmates?

Shaq: I guess you could say we’re lucky to have found one another in the sense that we all have the same level of passion and interest and commitment that we want to put into our music to see it through as far as we can. But at the same time it’s not something that we can take for granted or be complacent about. We need to work hard to maintain that relationship. Because it’s not a relationship between two people, it’s a relationship with four people who you see on a regular basis. This is your family.

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Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Poll
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Story
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
List
The Classic Internet Listicles
Countdown
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Meme
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Video
Youtube, Vimeo or Vine Embeds
Audio
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Image
Photo or GIF
Gif
GIF format