I’ve been playing drums for 10 years. From then till now, it’s been nothing but music. I’ve got no hobbies, nothing. I eat, breathe and sleep drums, songs and music. So each time I strike that drum, it makes me feel happy. My aim when I play music in a band, is to make myself happy and make others happy. If you guys are happy when I play, then I’ve done my job
The diverse septet of Crimson Inc talked to us in December, days before their first live gig at Esplanade. On February 1st, they officially debuted as a band, and we couldn’t be happier. This post features a part of our conversation with the band – read the rest of the interview in Issue 4. Read until the END of this for mic-drop-worthy thoughts from the band, Crimson Inc.
So, in relation to our theme, [3^2 UP: Beyond Cloud 9] how does music allow you to achieve a sort of satisfaction? How does your own work allow yourselves to enjoy yourselves and be happy with who you are?
Zul: Apart from Crimson Inc, I make my own guitar music at home. Maybe in the future, something might happen with it, but I’m quite happy with what I have achieved at the moment with my own abilities. I always try to be better with what I am doing.
Shai: For me, music was my escape for everything. It saved me, in a sense, and it gave me a sense of direction in life. When I first started out, I wasn’t confident about singing, but once I realised that it was my calling (because everything for me leads back to it), it became a safe haven to me. I can just express myself without being afraid of being judged or anything, because this is what I want to do, and if you guys don’t like what I’m doing then it’s okay. I’m not forcing you to listen, but this is how I express it.
Zai An: I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I always feel like there’s people who are better than me. I was always thinking of how I can improve myself – like, maybe it’s in the way I play and they play, or maybe I need to listen more to something.
But what they do, is not what I do. When they play all the complicated stuff, I just kept thinking, I cannot do this, I cannot do that. So why do you want to follow them when you can be your own person?
Melvin: To talk about how I feel when I play music and drums…I’ve been playing drums for 10 years. From then till now, it’s been nothing but music. I’ve got no hobbies, nothing. I eat, breathe and sleep drums, songs and music. So each time I strike that drum, it makes me feel happy. My aim when I play music in a band, is to make myself happy and make others happy. If you guys are happy when I play, then I’ve done my job, plus I get to do what I love the most.
That said, self-satisfaction can come in many forms; you don’t have to play music to enjoy music, so it really depends on each person. Some can feel satisfied playing music which cater to the crowd, something that connects with people’s feelings. On the other hand, I have friends who are happy playing progressive, where their timings are all weird, but that’s not for everybody.
Indra: In creating music for other people to love, at the end of the day, you have to go back to why you started playing music first, which is because you love playing the music you play. So even if the music you’re making is not likable to society, you’re making yourself happy.
Yifen: Quite shockingly, my parents are actually against me playing music, so it’s my way of rebelling. For so many years, I’ve been wanting to do music, but my parents have always said no, and I just somehow found a way to wiggle my way through and connect with music. Even it’s just singing or listening to a song, along the way I have to acknowledge that it will take some time for them to accept the fact that I’m doing music, but I just told myself that no matter what has happened in the past, it will always go back to music. So I should just accept that part of me, and I should be happy doing it! I’m still working on the confidence side; the band-mates will agree on that. I am happy doing music, just with a bit of nervousness here and there.
Sufian: I think society’s 10 out of 10, and how 1 out of 10 is different to your own satisfaction. It’s subjective, because no matter where you are or what music you play, there will always be that stereotype that it’s not a proper thing to be. Unless you’re back in the 1600s where you play for church and it’s prestigious since only selected people can play–but right now, it’s only how people, or families usually see it[music] as not so much ofa “proper” career. That said, self-satisfaction can come in many forms; you don’t have to play music to enjoy music, so it really depends on each person. Some can feel satisfied playing music which cater to the crowd, something that connects with people’s feelings. On the other hand, I have friends who are happy playing progressive, where their timings are all weird, but that’s not for everybody. For me, I’m more on the Japanese music side, but not everyone enjoys Japanese music. So it really depends [what makes you happy] and feeling above Cloud 9.
Who would guys say are your biggest inspirations right now?
As you know, we[our music background] come from different genres, so we all have different music preferences.
Shai: Jessie J, Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Grace Vanderwaal…mostly power vocalists. They really inspire me and I sort of model my writing after theirs!
Indra: Before, I used to be inspired mostly by international artists, but now I listen more to local music. They’re from a multitude of genres, but all of them inspire me. but they still inspire me.
Zul: I like a lot of alternative rock, so I really like bands such as Muse and Aeon.
Yifen: As the second vocalist, I prefer music by Ariana Grande, Mariah Carey. I like listening to the people that have small but strong voices, especially Mariah Carey; her high notes and all are amazing to me.
Melvin: For me, when I arrange the song, I think about what they’re good at, and I slowly work out the parts from there. Basically, my inspiration is the band (Woaahhh from band).
Sufian: I really agree with what Melvin said; you have to really cater to the band, because you can’t just go and join any random band without knowing about it or have any attraction to it. I get a lot of inspiration from Japanese music. However, I can’t incorporate every element from Japanese music inside our music. Honestly, it depends on what the band needs at the moment.
Zai An: To be honest, I have no idea what I listen to (laughs). I listen to a lot of weird stuff: R&B, Pop, Chinese pop, Fusion; I just listen to a lot of different varieties. I like to explore my choices so why restrict yourself to only a few genres?
Do you guys have any specific process you guys go through in creating a song or a piece of music?
So far, we have two original songs written by Shai. She had her own arrangement with the piano, but she put it on the table for the others to contribute to it, by using it as a reference and [they] make their own arrangements of it.
How do you deal with the creative differences in the band?
Communication is key; we all have our opinions and ideas. We individually present the ideas and everyone else contributes to the idea [selected], so everybody has a say in it. That way, it’s fair for all of us.
Are there any positions set?
CI: Everybody has their own parts to play. There’s not really a position, per say. If there’s a show, everyone does what they need to do. We don’t really want to be a group that has someone who leads and everyone follows after them. It’s more open than that.
Catch up with Crimson Inc here.
*Featured image does not show all of the band’s members. For a full image of team #CARPExCRIMSON, click here.
❤ Special thanks to Shai and Indra for making this conversation possible!