When I was exactly 15 years old, I was introduced to cable television. To make people want to subscribe to watch more American comedies, National Geographic, CNN, and most importantly, for me, MTV, the cable TV company frequently allows basic tier subscribers to preview other channels for free sometimes for a full week. It was the school holidays when I experienced for the first time, true R&B music never before I’ve experienced other than the R&B/pop hybrids from the likes of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. This came in the form of a falsetto-singing afro-man named Maxwell. Because of this one single experience, I discovered HIS influences; Marvin Gaye, Prince, Donnie Hathaway, and more Prince, and eventually I discovered his contemporaries such as Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, D’Angelo and more. This one video changed everything for me.
The song, the lyrics, the music, the guitars, the music video. It was the first time I had done so much homework on an artiste and I wanted to find out where did he come from, what else is he working on. I had even bought a video TAPE off Amazon online, the first thing I ever bought online too, and it was shipped to Singapore, and I had watched it on repeat, well, “til the cops come knockin’” (Please find out what this pun means). I didn’t have YouTube back then. So basically MTV was my only source of what’s new and what’s hot. I can’t sing like him, I can’t even try, but to know that this world outside Malay pop-rock, and Top 40s blew my mind! I had learnt so much from this one Afro dude. I know most of his songs by heart, except for his latest work. (You might recognize him for his duet with Alicia Keys!)
I sang his song, and just like how people tweet to me when they’re out karaoke-ing my tunes, I tweeted to him. Guess what? He replied! I was ecstatic! I was 15 all over again. If I didn’t have 140,000 followers, I would have probably told him that I’m a big fan and shamelessly promoted my own videos, but it would have been so tacky. I should respect his space. He replied to me, I should treasure that and just shut up. Urban Hang Suite, Embrya (I have 3 copies, I don’t know!), Black Summer’s Night, The Best Man Soundtrack, Life Soundtrack, the list goes on! I have your remixes, dude! Your ‘Seguranca’! This one guy changed everything I know about music and he doesn’t even know it. I suppose that’s just a reminder for me, that when I can, I’ll reply to my followers, because you know, it might just spark something in them! Thank you Maxwell, you are the reason! I hope I am the reason for someone out there too.
Terima kasih sudi baca
I had the great privilege of owning a premium WeChat account where our login is not via the mobile app, but via desktop/web. With this function, I’m allowed to broadcast messages including audio and video files to my followers. What started out as a humble 400 following for quite sometime had skyrocketed to 1700 followers in the past week. I’ve been promoting for people to “follow” me to have a sneak peak at the ‘Setulus Kasih’ song that I was going to share to only my WeChat followers. Based on my previous experience, it might take up to 2 hours for everyone to receive my message(s). I had uploaded the 30 second clip at 8pm and even though I said I’d start chatting at 10pm to 11pm, I started at 6pm right through til 1am! Thank you WeChat Malaysia for believing in me wanting to try something new with my music.
Terima kasih juga kepada semua yang download WeChat hanya semata-mata nak dengar lagu ‘Setulus Kasih’. Ada yang dah memang terror dah, dia yang mengajar kita gambar dan audio yang saya hantar boleh share ke Moments untuk tatapan contacts yang lain. Ada yang banyak pulak soalan tanya macam-macam semasa sesi chat tapi saya OK jer. Maaf kepada mereka yang “follow” akaun saya selepas pukul 8malam, tak dapatlah dengar previu lagu tu! Next time ya. Terima kasih memberi sokongan kepada lagu baru saya ya. Insya-Allah, kita chatting lagi! Thank you semua!
Join me this Sunday as I reveal my latest single “Setulus Kasih” exclusively on WeChat. All you have to do is download the WeChat app from your favourite app store, look for ImranAjmain2525 and follow me! You will receive the snippet between 8pm to 10pm, and we will start chatting then for a full hour! I’m expecting a crowd, so please be patient! Do your part and Retweet, Like, Repost this image above.
“Setulus Kasih” is written by Reyza Hamizan and is the first single off the album of the same title.
See you on WeChat!
I have given it much thought. As an artiste, sometimes it is hard to block out the noise from the outside world and focus on your craft. A painter can remain faceless and most of the time, nameless too. Yet we can appreciate their art work and even those who have something to say, the painter remains oblivious. He has no-one to please. But that is not similar for a pop artiste. The art of making music, as a singer-songwriter, is distracted by first, the need to become famous to get any sort of attention for their work, and secondly, to remain relevant as the years passed. With days gone by, and the initial fans grow up and sometimes grow out of touch, the artiste needs to keep up with the game; frequently having to resort to writing music similar to what’s hot out there, and frequently reminded that, without that compromise, one wouldn’t be able to last.
Guess what? I don’t believe in it. I believe pure talent know that they only need to push through the noise, accompanied by a handful of true supporters, they will soar great heights. I have allowed myself since 2009 to not come up with anything new. Let me start with this 1 song first. The title is ‘Setulus Kasih’ and it is written and composed by upcoming singer-songwriter-composer Reyza Hamizan. The album will be titled ‘Setulus Kasih’ as well. And it’s about your pure love to me.
Join me this Sunday 17 Nov 2013 10pm on WeChat. Find “imranajmain2525″ and you will receive a voice-note, a preview of my new song, and we can chat for an hour after that! How about it?
I looked so different! That baby girl must be at 5 years old by now. Her name is Cempaka. She played my “son” in the “Selamat Ulang Tahun Sayang” music video, who, grew up to be Ferdaus Tajuddin, the real son of Taj from Innuendo. Fun facts for tonight! Wow, time flies huh?
Subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE.
Last Saturday, I was in Singapore to have my key taken by the one and only Pak Ngah for the concert to be held at the Esplanade on the 1st of January next year. The concert is to honour songs written by Cikgu Yusnor Ef. In a night of 26 songs, selected out of Cikgu’s 400 song catalogue, I will be singing 5 songs! Get your tickets from Sistic. (Pictures by Deanna)
For more pictures, check out my Tumblr post.
I have been selected to perform alongside some contemporaries namely Sezairi, Zaibaktian, Maya Rahman and some legends such as Rahimah Rahim, Sanisah Huri, J Mizan. It will be my first time under the musical directorship of renown traditional Malay music maestro, Pak Ngah. We will be singing songs written by Cikgu Yusnor Ef, in an evening tribute to him! Get your tickets.
Today, in Singapore, I got to meet the talented illustrator, Izwandy, who used only coloured pencils to draw a portrait of me. He had passed me the original, and I had signed a copy for himself. Masya-Allah, I cannot possibly draw like he can; such an amazing gift. Thank you again!
Received this piece of art from ArtPortraits. Baik per?? It does look like me, but maybe a little skinny than I actually am. Can I use this for the new album cover artwork? The moment I received this, I obsessively changed all the avatars in all my social media networks. Did I miss out anything?
Ingin jadi penulis “music-tech” untuk @amanz
— Imran Ajmain (@ImranAjmain) November 5, 2013
My passion for technology news, and all things apps and gadgets, was paused for a second when I realized that such literature is hardly available in Malay. There’s Amanz.my but they don’t cover the stuff I like, for example, YouTube monetization tutorials for artistes (in Malay), or how to get onto Spotify (in Malay), and perhaps, how does free audio streaming really work, (in Malay)? So guess what I did?
Look out for THIS when it becomes a clickable link soon.
This footage used to be on Keek but ever since I took it down, I’ve been waiting for the right moment to share this again. This video contains a snippet of “Hargailah Dia” (Treasure Her) from the upcoming “Setulus Kasih” album. Take a listen and share! Tell me what you think?
If you are wondering why I am wearing all black at the beach, I was, literally, under the weather, hiding under the shade off the coast of South China Sea. 1 big night of seafood at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah a few days earlier didn’t go well with me, but I jumped out of bed and made my way through the zig-zag inner-roads of Johor to get to Mersing. I had NO IDEA that these was where the beautiful beach islands were all located, like Perhentian and Tioman. If I had done my Google Maps prior, I would have packed some sunblock, soak in some sun. Alas, my visit was purely an educational one. My team and I were invited to speak about Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media, and we had done so in the capacity of the invitation extended to us via Kolej Komuniti department. If I was not mourning over my sensitive stomach, I would have dived into a fresh catch of prawns, in huge abundance, as the border of Johor-Kuantan is famous for. Next time, janji!
Thanks to the kind people at SMK Mersing, Johor.
Kini di udara: dikALuNg kAsihAN – iMRAN ajMAiN. Dengar Online: http://t.co/OF6Dot3mOH
— Suria FM (@suriafmradio) November 6, 2013
There must a system that radio stations use that tags songs in its playlist to its YouTube videos, because more than 1 radio station tweets my song with the spelling similar to the way the first video that contained my song spelt it. It was a fan-made video recording of my first time singing “Dikalung Kasihan” on TV, and the uploader spelt it as seen in the tweet above. Even after the official video came out with all the spelling corrected, this recurring tweet remained with Red FM, and a few other stations too. My dear Lord knows how OCD I can get when people spell like this. Not the radio station’s fault, but the system is flawed! Anyone knows how I can correct this?
It is my first time meeting singer, songwriter and writer, Dewi Lestari, and our chance meeting could have only happened because I took up the invitation speak at the Singapore Writers Festival’s Malay leg. I have listened to her songs, read 1 of her books which I had bought in Jakarta in 2008, and have watched one of the movies that she wrote, ‘Perahu Kertas’. But only upon having sat next to her, and listen to her speak about her craft, that I knew I’m a true fan. She spoke of her poetic influences and I wasn’t the least bit shy to admit the lack of appreciation towards poetry and spoken word in Singapore. When asked by the moderator, Oniatta Affendi, could music be a distraction when lyrics are poetry in itself; I said this – “On Indonesian television, on Hari Raya, on their Independence Day, at concerts, it is not unfamiliar to have a poetry recital on stage, true?” Dee, as she affectionately calls herself, nods. Afterwards, a kind soul in the audience asked if one requires to be powerful in the Malay language to be able to write lyrics, or can anyone with a flair for words get away with writing songs? I say, kind soul, because I was so confident to answer it as though she came purely to pick my brains.
I replied, “In Singapore, the artiste and the creative individual, be it, songwriter, composer, or arranger, is not identified as different people. It is known to all as one person. Therefore, it is the singer of the song who is seen as creative if the song enlightens you, artistic if the song touches you exactly where it intended to, and automatically too, the artiste is blamed for any errors in language. If the artiste is the songwriter is the composer is the storyteller, the flag that he bears is one that is carefully stitched, and any mistake you hear in the song is not intended. (Going off topic but remained cool to not look awkward, exhale!) Yes, you need to speak well, in order to write (a song) well.”
Dewi was asked if songwriting can be forced. She said “There are some producers who can sit down in the studio, on the piano and work on 2 songs a day, churning out hits for random artistes everytime they come and challenge them with an offer. But I can’t do that. It comes to me, at those unknowing, special times, in the shower, when I’m alone, and a line comes with its melody strikes me, like a lightning!” She took the words right out of my mouth, and there I was, with my mouth wide open, so amazed at her choice of words. Like a strike of lightning, too, I was made to understand this vast unexplored world of Malay-language literature in this short 1 hour forum about “effective songwriting through the decades” from Cikgu Yusnor Ef’s catalogue of 400 since 1947, and Dewi’s 2 song per year repertoire. It made me feel small and humble. At the closing, I sang lines from my own favourite song, “Hanya Menari”, and later in the day, Dewi had tweeted her fondness for my lyrics. The feeling is magical. Is that how some fans feel when I tweet to them? Heh.
Only because I read as a child, as a teenager, as a young man, that I know all the things I today and I write the way I do. Thanks for the inspiration, Dee!
Thank you to Firda, National Museum of Singapore and the Singapore Writers Festival for having me!
I think I have spent too much time on social media, consuming and contributing on a daily basis and have come to a point where it is not exciting as before. I like routines. I wake up, check for missed messages and calls, check Twitter first, then browse through Instagram, skim through Facebook a bit while waiting for the unread messages to load, and the occasional Tumblr-ing. Oh ya, how can I forget? Even trying to see what’s up on Google+. How long can one do this? Just because you’re a fan of fried chicken, doesn’t mean you would eat it everyday right? Ok, some would, bad example. My point is that: As a social media enthusiast, the longer you’re online, the more you do, the more you have to do. The more you consume, the more you contribute. I even asked if it was a good idea to get off it, everyone says they could do without going online for 24 hours maximum. Can you? Erm, can I?
I have decided to blog again, like I did throughout the 90s and early 2000s where it was a joy to read and write online journals, and chronicle the daily doings and opinion to purposefully find a voice. At the Singapore Writers Festival, I was surrounded by readers and writers. I told Rauzan that “most of these talks start off really slow, and when it picks up and gets intense, it’s already finishing”. I was right. It just ended while we were right on course with the discussions. There must be a way for me to say more, to give more, to absorb and learn more at the same time. Botched writing deal, kiss my a**! I know what I can do.
Thanks to my fanclub, #imtiaz100, for encouraging me. They even remember that my old blog was called “Diari Seekor Kumbang” (Diary of a Bug). Oh, those days were fun. They call it long-reads now because everyone is on Twitter for short and quick rants. Twitter is just too quick. Facebook is just too crowded. But here, here on my own blog, is a sort of peaceful garden where you come only for me, only to see me, (how syiok sendiri that sounds). But it is via my blog too, let me remind you, that I did say too much at one time, and unintentionally offended some people with my idealistic opinions. You know what they say, the pen (or keyboard) is mightier than the sword! Not that I’m going to purposely ruffle some feathers, but if this is the only way to be heard, I will try not to be careless. I will tweet less, post less on Facebook, and write here more often. You will simply have to start paying attention.
Here we go. Digital decrease, self-help/self-upgrade/spiritual-healing/Alzheimer’s-prevention increase, starts now.
p/s Thanks to the Admin team who have been updating for the past year!