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    Monday, August 25, 2008

    I would like to acknowledge one of the most amazing things in my life which I realised I cannot do without. It's probably something we all take for granted. I cannot imagine my life without it. I am talking about the reverse sensor in my car. Every beep it makes to warn me of potential damage is music to my ears; how it starts with a beep. Then another one. And another. It gets faster and faster until it becomes one long continous beep. As if to tell me..."Dude...stop already!"

    Thank you reverse sensor! You are so smart and amazing. You just know things!

    Still on the matter of cars, why is it that whenever our car remote-alarm-lock-unlock thing doesn't work, we shake it and smack it? Poor contact points? Weak battery? What part of that action fixes it? And more importantly, WHY does it actually work?

    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    I had this strange revelation the other day. What do Nikki, Farah Asyikin, and Elyana have in common? They all have great albums. AND their albums were snubbed at the Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM) awards during their eligible year. Why, you might ask?

    Highly competitive year?

    I don't think so.

    It probably had more to do with the fact that these artistes were "strong" female artistes and were singing "strong" songs. None of that "singing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-begging-the-man-to-kembali-kepadaku-because-I-tengah-melara-jiwa."

    While not Alanis Morrissette or Avril Lavigne-potent, our local sisters were making a musical stand. And I think a lot of the "men" in the voting committee cannot handle that sort of thing. They were still expecting a sweet thing whose name is Siti-something, doing Siti-esque-type songs, and not show any form of independence or attitude in their music.

    Truth be told that I was surprised and borderline-pissed that Elyana's and Farah Asyikin's album were not nominated in this year's AIM. I am biased when it comes to Farah's album but I really like Elyana's album and Aidit Alfian (the producer and composer for the songs that really mattered) did a really good job. He and I paint with different colours but we are on the same page.

    So come next year, I am curious to see what happens with Nikki's album and possibly Farah's album. These two will have really kick-ass albums this year and we shall see if my theory is right.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    I am excited about music again!

    I've been quite quiet these past months. Haven't released any music but I did upgrade to a quad-core Intel PC and now working on upgrade the other two computers at the studio to quad-cores and dual 24-inch LCDs as well. Just the thought of it causes a stir in my loins.

    Anyway, I am slowly getting back into my groove. I think I am going to end up doing maybe only three albums this year. That's not a lot compared to the previous years. I just really want to focus a few projects and do my best instead of writing the same song over and over again. I am really looking to do something new this year and I have given myself a challenge with every project.

    I'm working on Nikki's album and we are almost done. I am very excited about this song I produced written by Pam Yuen and it's going to be blow a lot of people away as to what a modern ballad should sound like. I've gone crazy stupid with this album. There is so much colour in this album and you've never heard Malay pop like this before. Kieran Kuek is working on a couple of songs as well. So the direction for the album is going to be tight.

    The challenge for Nikki's album is that I cannot use the crash cymbal in the entire album.

    I am also working slowly but picking up steam, on Maya Karin's album as well. Her's is an interesting one because when it comes to her singing, she is the undergod. But let me go on record here saying that she is one of the best singers I've worked with. Flawless pitching. Her challenge is her unique tone. It's a double-edged sword. And my challenge is finding the right material and direction for her. When we get it right, you will hear a new Maya and I am looking forward to that.

    The challenge for Maya's album is writing the kind of songs that I've never written before. So help me God.

    And finally, album-wise, I am very excited to be working on Farah Asyikin's album. I just finalised the mix to the first song and Farah sounds great. I got this new hybrid synthesiser with knobs and things I can grab, twist and turn. I am going to be using the heck out of this for Farah's album. I am making the effort to design and program new sounds for this production instead of using standard stock sounds. I will use real thing when I need instrument sounds but everything else will be synthesised. This is going to be so much fun for me.

    The challenge here is to use the synthesiser as the main instrument.

    And for something on the side, I am working on a dangdut track for this well-known dangdut singer who is perhaps crazy to risk her career on getting me to write and produce a dangdut track for her. But this is my chance! Whenever there is an opportunity for me to make a complete fool of myself, I am there!

    Friday, August 08, 2008

    I completed this song for Nikki recently. It's called "Relakan."

    Nikki had a hit with "Caramu" two years ago. A hit so big that it overshadowed the rest of the album to the point that radio stations and listeners didn't want to listen to anything else from the album. (We just get too comfortable with our old shoes!)

    Now we are working on her new album and "Relakan" is the first single. Generally, the response has been positive. It's a simple song. I think it sounds new and fresh from the perspective the singer and compared to what's on local radio today.

    After "Caramu", you would not expect something like "Relakan."

    And that's exactly the point. I like "Relakan" because it shows a different side of Nikki's vocals. She is much more restrained and in control. Sorry, no hyper-sonic dog-range whistling (yet.)

    If people are open-minded enough, this song will be a refreshing hit. But given our track-record on the matter of being an open-minded society, it might get trashed.

    Therefore, I feel the need for this preface to explain what is going on.

    The decision to go with "Relakan" as the first single is because it's a new-sounding kind of song. There hasn't been a Malay song that sounds like this, in terms of production or melody. And more importantly, I personally feel that this song could be the song to start tipping the scale against music from last century and the "other" country.

    This song could get people who do not listen to Malay music, listen to Malay music.


    How supportive will listeners and mass media be?

    And why wouldn't I think listeners will be supportive?

    Because it's not like "Caramu!"

    Nor does it sound Indonesian.

    So the conclusion here is that, people can't label this song.

    So what does it sound like?

    It's fucking Malaysian, dammit!

    Why? You can't digest what modern Malay pop sounds like?
    Why? You need Agnes Monica or some Indonesian to do it first? Then only it's OK for us Malaysians?

    As a "songwriter/producer" (ahem!), there are times when I do something people want. And there are times when I do something I think people want but don't even know it yet.

    (Name drop alert!) Izham Omar sent me this SMS a long time ago which I had some issues and it put things in perspective for me: "If I asked people what they want, they would have asked for a faster horse." - Henry Ford.

    No one asked for Hujan or Meet Uncle Hussain. No one asked for Air Asia. No one asked for Caramu.

    So the point here is that it's really not whether the song is good or not. Because it is. Yes, it may be a matter of taste. But it's about keeping our minds open for more than three minutes and 28 seconds.

    But here's the irony. If I had done something like "Caramu", people would say it's the same typical Audi Mok production and that I've run out of ideas. Damned if I do. Damned if I don't.

    This is more than a song. It's a sociocultural test.

    I personally feel this song is one of my best songs because it's so deceptively simple. And if you know my songs, I have trouble keeping things simple and I have this God-given gift of overdoing things.

    You want proof that this song will work?

    I challenge any radio station to play this song 10 times in a row at a decent hour of the day.

    10 times that's all. If there is no response, never ever play the song again and I will gladly give the label back their money.

    Think about it. To show that the radio station is fair and that they play everything (even though it's at 4.35 am) they might play the song more than 10 times over a course of a month or two. Forget that mercy airplay. So, I am asking for sudden death. Just TEN TIMES in a row. And if you don't have listeners calling in, I will write and produce a song with the radio station's name in it and have Nikki sing it. (Subject to Vernon's approval. Terms and conditions apply.)

    Contrary to what you might think, this is not to call attention to myself. Far from it. I am a rational human being. This is only music! Not a peace treaty. But when I feel it's worth fighting for and does not interfere too much with my blood pressure, I will do it. I really just want to make the world a better place.