Singing the blues away

Singer Ryan Deedat believes Malaysian music has a strong potential to be globally appealing

13 Aug 2020 / 09:08 H.

A SONG about anxiety and depression – that is how the singer and composer Ryan Deedat describes his latest track, Menari Dalam Gelap. The song was officially launched on July 10, and is slowly gaining popularity.

He admitted facing moments of anxiety when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced on March 18 to curtail the spread of Covid-19.

“I am a very social person,” says the 28-year-old Kuala Lumpur-born lad, whose real name is Sheikh Eamir Deedat.

“I felt extremely restless that I could not see my friends during this confinement period. I also read that people were losing their jobs. It got me thinking about my own job situation.

“When you suffer from anxiety, you are constantly worrying about what the future has in store for you. You will have a certain feeling of loneliness and emptiness. Anxiety can lead to depression.”

Through this song, he hopes to remind his listeners that they are not alone, despite their feelings of helplessness.

“I am feeling what you are feeling,” says Ryan.

He also believes anxiety and depression should not be buried under the carpet.

“We should have the courage to acknowledge and discuss these topics,” he says.

He composed the song with 18-year-old composer Heil Nuan, a new kid on the block.

“I have been following his social media, and found Heil to be very talented,” he says.

“I would like to give a platform for new faces to shine and showcase their talent. When I started out in the music business, there was no one to provide me with this kind of platform. There was no one to guide me. I was directionless. I had to struggle to be where I am today.

“I do not want other young talents to face what I had faced. I want to provide a helping hand.”

Ryan had his first shot at stardom when he was chosen through a competition to be the opening act for the famous Canadian rock band Simple Plan, when they held a concert in KL in 2012.

His performance was praised and received a standing ovation.

“I really believed my career would take off, and I would receive a lot of good offers,” he said.

Unfortunately, his dream did not come true. After experiencing his 15 minutes of fame, he was soon forgotten. But he did not give up on his musical dream.

His hard work paid off two years ago, when his song Salimah became a hit. Listeners and music critics were impressed by the fresh sound of the track, which had elements of eastern and western musical instruments.

He was able to cleverly blend Malay traditional instruments, such as the button accordion, with a Latin-American musical genre, Reggaeton.

Last year, he was nominated as the Best New Artiste for the Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian award show.

“If Salimah’s [success] did not happen, I would have quit the music industry,” he says with a laugh.

Now, he has a far bigger dream to achieve. He wants his music to penetrate the American music scene.

One wonders if he will pack his bags and base himself in Los Angeles, following in the footsteps of his contemporary, Yuna.

“Today you do not have to really base yourself in Los Angeles to get the Americans to listen to your song,” he says.

“Our technology is so advanced that you can still [record] from the comfort of your own country, and still get the world to listen to your music.”

He pointed out that recently the Indonesian music group Weird Genius collaborated with fellow Indonesian rapper Sara Fajirah to produce their track Lathi, which focuses on a toxic relationship.

“The song is not only enjoyed in America but all over the world,” he says.

“They did not base themselves in Los Angeles. They are still living in Indonesia.”

Dissecting their success, he says that the song had a lot of Javanese musical influences.

“They have given a new sound for the world to listen to,” he says.

“They have used elements from their culture, and we must do the same if we want to achieve success for ourselves.

“This is not a difficult dream to achieve.”

He points out that a lot of Malay traditional musical instruments, like the gamelan and gambus, could easily blend into modern pop songs.

“That will give our music a different touch, and eventually appeal to music lovers from around the world,” he says.

Currently he is working on a new song with high hopes of capturing the world market. He hopes to release his new song at the end of the year.

When asked for a sneak preview of what kind of song it will be, he cryptically teases: “Now is not the right time for me to discuss this song.”

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