Dealing with disappointment and not getting support from the people closest to you is the theme behind Malaysian singer-songwriter Gerard Singh’s song Crazy that has peaked at number 40 on the US Billboard Indicator Charts.
Gerard is the first Malaysian artist from a Malaysian record label Lakefront Records to reach the 40th spot on the Billboard Charts without setting foot in the United States.
Crazy debuted on the charts at number 82 barely a week after its release in late September last year. He was up against the likes of Maroon 5 with their single Animals, Jason Derulo’s single Trumpets, and Kendrick Lamar’s single I.
“There’s a line in the song that says ‘don’t turn your back on me now that I need you’, it’s basically about not getting the support you want, especially from the people closest to you,” said 47-year-old Gerard.
During Gerard’s 26-year-long music career, his career path has often been questioned by numerous people.
“I was not bad in school or anything, but it was a choice I made to play music. You don’t always get the support you need, especially if you have parents who want you to be a doctor or engineer. A lot of people do not understand the choice you make,” said Gerard.
But Gerard says he does not regret his decision to put his education on hold and pursue music as a career when he was offered an opportunity to perform at a bar in Johor in 1987.
He later moved to Singapore after receiving an offer to perform in the local bar scene there before moving back to Johor in 1991 to participate in the nationwide pub music competition Top of the Pubs and winning the Best Solo Artist category.
After two nationwide tours with Top of the Pubs, Gerard moved back to Kuala Lumpur in 1995 and started recording radio jingles while he further developed his growing career as a musician.
Gerard became the voice behind several jingles for companies like Milo, Cadbury, McDonalds Pizza Hut and Parkson, to name a few.
It was during his time recording jingles in the studio where he was approached to record his first album A Slice of the Pie with Michael Verapan under SCAT productions in 2005.
His album was later nominated for the Best English Album and Best New English Artist in the Malaysia Music Industry Awards (AIM).
When asked about when his love for music started, Gerard said he was always surrounded by music growing up and his love for music blossomed at church.
“My late father used to play the guitar and sing and my mother also sings. So there was always music at home, and we used it to keep ourselves entertained,” said Gerard.
He remembers being introduced to the guitar at 10 by his father’s friend.
“We couldn’t afford music classes, but I was lucky because everyone was already playing the guitar where I lived, so I had a lot of people to show me how to play the chords. I was pretty much self-taught,” he said.
He wrote his first song when he was 11, which was an “embarrassingly corny disco number about love” and he jokingly assured that it would not be making an appearance on his upcoming Extended Play (EP) that is set for release in the next few months.
Gerard says that his EP will include new originals and one old song from his second album Social Animals’ in 2009 that has been reproduced for his EP.
“The song To See Her Smile is an old song I wrote for my mother when my father died. I was very concerned for my mum when we got the news that his lung cancer was fatal.
“My father died very young, he was only 58. I believe that when someone dies, it’s hardest for the people still around because they need to deal with the death. This song is about coping with loss,” said Gerard.
He describes his music as eclectic and says that he draws inspirations from his favourite bands such as American jazz rock band Steely Dan as well as British rock band Jethro Tull and Yes.
The Klang-born artist has since become a regular performer in the pub and club scene, and still gigs four nights a week around the Klang Valley.
Gerard said that he completed his Grade 8 music exams last year and has been teaching music at a music school in Petaling Jaya for the past five years.
“Teaching keeps me in check and it helps me work out all the kinks in my method. I’m also committed to my students who have been with me for two or three years,” said Gerard.
He said teaching was the last thing on his mind, but it was his 16-year-old daughter who encouraged him to start teaching.
“My daughter was going for drum classes and friends at the centre suggested I start teaching while waiting for my daughter to finish her class. But now my daughter stopped her classes and I’m still there,” he said.
Gerard says he enjoys working out of Malaysia, where he can be with his wife and daughter, but has plans to travel to the United States to tour the country and play his original songs.
“The whole point for me is to get there and perform originals. We want to push the envelope, we want to have a Malaysian artist go over there and perform to an international audience,” he said.
Gerard says he is also looking forward to the setting up of Gerard Singh Productions in a few months.
“What we want to do is to have a channel for artists to work on their own production. We want to help them with their songs and to guide them to the next step,” he said.
“I’ve managed to get onto Billboard at 47 years old, I’m pretty sure that if I can do it some of the younger artists can do it too. I want to make it easier for them.
“It is never too old to dream, and you’re never too old to set your dreams in motion,” said Gerard.