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.