Instant chemistry

COMBINING subtle harmonic vocals with minimal electronic melodies, Pastel Lite comprises Eff Hakim and Mohd Faliq, two like-minded people who just want to make music that they both enjoy. But the band was not formed without any trials and errors throughout their music journey.

The pair met after a friend introduced them through Facebook and initially Faliq was reluctant to form a band because he wanted to produce Eff as a pop star and felt it wasn't going to work with just the two of them. But the two hit it off after going to Faliq's studio and having a jam session.

"It was instant chemistry. I realised I have never been this comfortable with anyone else," Eff said. "We ended up making a song and I told Faliq we should do something with it."

"I was looking for a female singer and when I met Eff, it was like magic. She was really serious, and we made songs that people love," Faliq added.

Their band name is probably proof of the trials and errors they faced. "We didn't know what was the cool name that would suit our music. Initially we wanted to call ourselves The Orchid Was Dying, but Faliq thought it was too metal and I said that's too avant-garde," Eff said.

"Then what about CatDog? But Faliq said that has nothing to do with our music although we liked the cartoon. I was thinking pop, pastel colours and putting some electronic sounding word in it. So why not go 'lite'? We thought of Pastel Lit at first, but that was too hip hop so we ended up staying with lite."

Their album, Balada was completed after two years amidst personal turmoil including a studio that burned down. During this period, they had thoughts of quitting because of the problems they were going through.

"We pretty much gone through everything, but it wasn't because of these problems that the album took longer than expected. It happened when we decided to take our time to make all these songs that all these personal problems started popping out of nowhere," Eff revealed.

Still, they persevered and their silver lining was landing their first performance at Baybeats 2012 in Singapore after releasing their first demo, being called up to perform at Laneway Festival 2015 in Singapore, and going on a three-day tour at Chongqing, China. But that's not all to their track record, having played in multiple local music festivals to opening for international bands with the most recent being The xx in January.

Who does what in the band?

We both do everything respectively together. It is just a matter of who starts and finishes it. Back when we started I was a novice so Faliq tends to start or he would give me a guideline of the song. As I progressed and learned more, I started things myself.

What I like working with Faliq is he always gives me room to do what I want to do and if he wants to experiment, I wouldn't stop him. I would be like are you sure that would work and then I would put my 100% trust in him. The best thing about making music is working with someone who is willing to experiment with you, and Faliq is just open-minded to everything.

What kept you both together?

I think it was a miracle. There were a bunch of random small miracles with the first one being our previous manager who was nice enough to lend us a space on top his cafe for us to use.

The second miracle was getting the most random call to be opening act for Tame Impala even though we weren't releasing anything. During the show we played four songs from Balada and the response was really good. People were excited about what we were going release and we thought people have forgotten about us.

The third miracle is having a number of music labels calling us up, and we ended up joining Yuna Room Records. That really saved the game.

What's your plan for the future?

We are thinking of penetrating more into the Malay market. In Balada, we released two Malay tracks and it was our first time making Malay songs. We didn't think we were going to have good feedback from the Malay speaking community and we would love to educate them when it comes to independant music, and the only way to do that is by speaking their language.

We think this is a good way to further expose the market to synth pop. We won't be forgetting our English fans; it is just our habit to not stay in the comfort zone.

What can the next generation look up to you with?

Perseverance. I know it is such a boring answer but it is true especially when it is so easy to quit these days. Everything is super fast nowadays that it is very easy to fall out of love with something. Perseverance is about staying with it and letting it grow on you. I think we have it the most because there were so many times we wanted to quit but we thought we should stay; it's been three years, what's another seven or 20 years.