After Faizal's first album "Aku.Muzik.Kamu" won AIM's Album of the Year in 2008, we wondered what we were going to do next. It's a tough act to follow. I feared that the next album would be self-indulgent OR we would stick to formula and repeat ourselves. (Personally, it's easier for me to "syok sendiri" and come up with a "musician's album".)
Then I remembered Zainal Abidin's "Gamal" and decided that I will "syok sendiri" for his fifth album.
So we came up with Adrenalin instead.
This is one of the earlier songs that I presented to FT. After he heard it, he said that it will be the first song on the album and he was going to title it "Adrenalin". This is why I think FT is a natural marketing genius.
This is the very first new song we worked on and it was supposed to be for Anugerah Bintang Popular 09 in March. We thought it was too predictably "Faizal Tahir". So we put it aside and came up with "Bencinta" instead. I feel that "Superhero" is a safe song that everyone will like. It's almost to remind listeners that "Hey! This is still a Faizal Tahir album after all." I like it that I got to play those Queen's "Radio Ga Ga" analog synth parts. And the title? Again, natural marketing genius.
3. Selamat Malam
This was the second single. I love this song. We recorded a string section which was exquisite. I was inspired by the energy of the extended ending jam of The Beatles' "Hey Jude." In fact, you can hear the guitar softly playing the line from "Hey Jude" at the last chorus. This CD version is a little different from the radio single.
Hands down, this is my favourite song in the album. FT magically came up with the riff. He wasn't even sure what he was playing but it triggered something in me. Then we realised that it was in this odd time signature. It's in 7/4 or 6/8 alternating with 4/4. Some Berklee graduate told me that. FT was sure about this song but he was cool enough to go with it. It was going to be my "syok sendiri" song. That's why I had that guitar/synth/breakbeat interlude and the lyrics are also a little risky. It's about a girl who was abused/raped by her father. He goes to jail. Later gets our of prison. Surprisingly, his daugther welcomes him back only to kill him. I had dialog and sound effects but I took them out when it became too dark. To soften it up, we had a female voice do the "hey hey" in the chorus. Guess who? It's the amazing Siti Nurhaliza who was so generous and cool to do it!
My second favourite song after "Karma". For a recovering ballad-hater, Faizal loves this song way more than I do. I just wanted to do four things with this song: The first verse and the second verse are different. The chorus doesn't repeat itself in it's original form for the ending. Double bridge. And an a capella intro inspired by Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You". After I got that out of my system, I could move on. But what makes this song work is Faizal's amazing performance and his God-given voice. This is HIS song. No one else can sing this song in this arrangement and give you the emotional response you get when you listen to him.
This is the first single which we feared no one would get or like. Thank God it worked!
This is one of two last songs we did after FT's hospitalisation. I think FT wasn't sure about this either but I had a feeling it would work with his voice. (I actually love it when he thinks something might not work. It means I am pushing him out of his comfort zone!) This is the one song where I've doubled his lead vocal track. (He is singing the same thing in the same way twice.) And we have that Queen-esque chorus. I love how lyrically, the chorus nuetralises the seriousness of the verse. Faizal and I are not serious people and we still enjoy fart jokes!
This is the kind of song that I'd like to hear at the end of a concert. We wanted a "Thank You" song because as cheesy as it sounds, we are here because of the fans. And also, because of God. So this song has a dual perspective for me. Musically, we borrowed from our inspirations. We have "Hanyut" and "Sampai Syurga" in there, some Alanis Morrisette, some Guns N' Roses, Prince, and some of my other personal inspirations. We thank you and everyone. Hopefully it will guilt those who downloaded the music for free to go buy the CD.
Amazingly, FT and I worked on this album in secrecy. His label did not hear any demos and I thank Ahmad Izham Omar and Edris Adrian, the label manager, for letting us get away with it. It take a lot of courage and trust.
Finally, I want to rebut those who say that I write the best songs or only reserve the best songs for Faizal. The reason why FT and I work so well together is because he knows who he is as an artist. My job (if you can call it that) is to amplify who he is with music. With FT, it's not that difficult. 85% of the magic you hear is because of him. I would not be able to come up with this sort of music if it weren't for him. I am just glad and grateful that I was invited to the party.
I told Jennifer Thompson and FT at supper at PJ Hilton back in 2008 after the AIM win, that the next FT album will make the first album sound "bad". I think we did it!