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Sunday March 16, 2008

Living the crazy life


Music has become a common tool for one to express their thoughts. Through music, many have come to discover themselves. Just like former Malaysian Idol finalist Ash Nair, who recently released his debut album, Chameleon.

The process of self-discovery through music has become his theme for the album.

Ash feels he is lucky to have met all the right people to produce a great album.

“While I was discovering myself musically, I was in a band and we were mostly into grunge. Eventually I got into punk, soul and metal. So, I wanted to capture that period of me discovering myself in the album. And also to really, to put into perspective that period of my life when I was growing up, discovering myself, my voice and the lyrics (of the songs) have been as sincere as I wanted to be,” Ash, 28, explains.

Not only does it explain the title of Ash’s album, but it also explains the way rock is infused throughout the album, in all tracks.

“The way I’ve approached the album, it’s like a celebration of rock. You have the pop rock song, the slow rock song, and it tries to cover every sub-genre of rock,” he says.

And apparently, it was also the nickname he got from Paul Moss while he was one on the second season of reality TV show. Ash made it to the 5 finalists of Malaysian Idol 2.

The album has 10 tracks and each song has a different meaning. Ash in fact draws some comparison between the album and his own life journey.

Chameleon, which was released in early January, has made quite an impact on the local music industry. If you’ve been listening to the radio quite a bit, you’d be familiar with his current hit single, Crazy. The first single A Day Before Tomorrow was released in 2006 while Crazy came on air August last year. The next single would be Splinters, and will be on air this April.

The album was produced over a span of 4 years. Why 4 years?

“I don’t know really. It just took that long. On and off, over the course of work and Idol. I was working while I was recording the album and Idol came in, that got me sidetracked a bit,” he says. The album was also partly financed by him. Furthermore, the recording process took a long time particularly since Ash is quite “anal” about his work.

“We work on a song for a month. At the end of the month, we’ll review the song and I’ll hate it, and we’ll change it again. Greg (the producer) was a bit like me. He shares the passion for rock, so the album was quite personal to him as well. There were days he said ‘Ash go back and write a new song’,” he adds with a laugh.

The album was first conceived in April 2003 when he and JD of Pop Shuvit started working in the studio. Later, through JD, he was recommended to Greg Henderson, who produced the album. Henderson is one of most renowned producer in Malaysia and he has been a producer for many local bands such as Pop Shuvit and One Buck Short. Arnie Acosta, who has worked with U2, mastered the album while Vandal and Arvinder (of Reshmonu’s Hey Whally fame) were guest vocalists. All songs were written by Ash.

Ash feels he was lucky to have met all the right people to produce a great album.

“If you were a new musician, I think the problem is finding the right people who could work with you. You might not know what to do next. What was good about my journey is that, I met the right people while I was trying to find my own sound. So, I knew where to go, who to turn to,” says Ash.

As the album presents different sounds in each track, Ash feels a range of listeners will be able to identify with the album.

“I’ve received emails and feedback from whoever actually bought the album and it has been very encouraging. What I like about the reception is that, if I let ten people listen to the album, everyone would have a different favourite song. So, different people from different walks can identify with different songs.”

When asked whether if he was emulating the styles of artistes like U2 or Lenny Kravitz, Ash says comparisons are inevitable.

“Regardless of what you do, you will be compared to someone. Even playing drums with matchsticks with tin cans, somebody would say ‘oh you sound like someone’. I think the secret here is not to copy but to take something and make it your own. It’s like paraphrasing a great story,” he says.

Plus, he doesn’t think he could do cover songs. Ash says with a smile, “That's one similarity I have with Bono of U2, in a very minor way of course, is that we sing our own songs the best. We both can’t do covers.”

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