In the bleakness of it all, the release of the song ‘falling’ is the light at the end of the tunnel. With its whimsical beats and soft lyrics, zeauk had successfully given us a lighter entrance to the new year, a feeling we had lost in the nightmare of a pandemic that we had been through.
What was the leading inspiration behind your song, “Falling”?
My main inspiration for ‘falling’ is based my past and present experiences in life, because to me, life is cyclical. Like the feeling of falling in love all over again. But at the same time, this song conveys how people learn to love better because of their past relationships and how that can serve as a lesson for them to be better at loving someone.
At the same time, this also brings that light hearted blissful feeling of falling in love all over again; these are all elements that I tried to incorporate into the song ‘falling’.
Could you describe the creative process in which you partook in when creating your song “Falling”? Do you begin with the creation of the beat, or do you plot out your lyrics first?
Generally, this may be different from other artists. Some may do the same thing, some may have a different strategy but for me, I tend to start by making the beat first before writing something, be it lyrically or melodically. I mean, sometimes I do write the melody as well because it sometimes just comes out of nowhere, like when you’re in the shower, or on your way to work or going back home. Like for me, it just hits me. So my thought process when a random melody hits me is ‘Okay. I need to record this asap on my phone before I forget it’ which is something that has happened previously and I just end up losing it because i don’t record it right away.
After the beat, I do the melody. So melody-wise, what it is is that you’re just like humming; like you’re just saying random words, but the melody would be there. I would do different versions and see which would suit the song best. So when I do settle with a melody, that’s when I start writing the lyrics to fit into it.
I don’t know if any other artists do this, but what i do is i use this app wherein I fill in the lyrics of the song and what the app does is that it suggests rhyming words that would best fit the lyrics I’ve used, so this helps in my relatability of the lyrics but at the same time maintaining the rhyming of the words to make it sound uniform and catchy.
In leaning towards music making, there must have been a number of creators and artists like yourself that you would have looked up to. Could you name some of them and share as to why and how they have inspired you to creating music?
I actually listen to a lot of genres, even though my main genre that people would know me by as an artist is r&b because that’s how I started making music. But because of all the different genres that I listen to throughout the years, this has made me create my own identity; it made my sound unique in a way.
Back in 2008 or 2009, I was really into r&b like Chris Brown or Neyo; I loved their songs because they’re so catchy, and it’s not too turnt, so you could definitely get to groove to their songs in any kind of environment. Moving forward, i started exploring more genres and had somehow became a ‘belieber’ in this journey when Justin Bieber released his debut song called one time so ever since he released it, i really got into his music because the thing about Justin is that although he is know as a pop artist, his main desire is to create r&b music which really inspired me. Most of his songs are pop but he tends to add r&b elements into it, so that’s how he managed to create his identity and for me I feel like that’s consistent with me as well.
Over the years, I also have listened to kpop back in 2012-2013, which I felt was when kpop really blew up around the world and that really inspired me in terms of beat and the visuals. In addition to that, I also have listened to alternative as well – alternative, rock, metal, you name it. From the likes of Paramore and Bring Me the Horizon; I especially loved Paramore. Like ever since i listened to that’s what you get I was really hooked with their music and started following their music until, of course, they disbanded.
So if you see it from a bigger perspective i listen to a wider range of genres so because of this i tend to take inspirations from these genres, like for an example from r&b I would take inspiration from the way they write their melody and all, as well as pop but at the same time when it comes to alternative or metal i tend to take inspiration from the way they write their lyrics because i feel like there’s a real depth in their lyrics, and for beats, that’s where kpop comes in.
Most recently, from 2018 until now I’ve gotten really hooked with Korean r&b. Korean r&b, in a way, is really unique and I feel like a lot of emerging artists are really inspired by the way they write their songs. Namely, I am inspired by J-Park, who is known as an r&b artist as well as a rapper, so that’s also my inspiration for my beats.
Could you share how you began your career in music? What prompted you to steer yourself into this career path?
It was really unexpected and really unplanned for me to diverge myself into the music scene because I was previously a photographer from 2016 to 2018 before debuting as a musical artist. But despite that I still consider myself as a visual artist because all of the visuals and artworks in my songs are created by me and almost all of my music videos were directed by me and edited by me as well – in addition to the promo videos; basically anything visual.
I never expected myself to dive into the music scene up until back in 2018 when I had a sleepover at my friend’s house. The thing is, my old friends were really into music and enjoyed making it just for the fun of it. At the time, we thought ‘why not try and create a song?’ and we did just that using only the microphone from your standard apple earphones and did a terrible job with the beats as we didn’t exactly use any proper tools as we thought of just keeping the song to ourselves. But for some reason something made me want to post it on Spotify and see what happens; I tried to convince my friends, but they were obviously hesitant as we created it satirically but they eventually agreed to release it. We had no expectations of it at all as it was created amaturely, but to our surprise two weeks after the song was released it garnered over several thousand streams on spotify. That was when we decided together to create and release more songs, but this time professionally – by using proper equipment, by using the proper softwares for the technical parts etc etc. We began making music respectively; as my friends and I have different music directions, and so we helped each other out with composing, the visuals and every other detail.
Moving on to the present day, I am still making music on the side as I am still a full time uni student. Looking back 4 years ago, everything was different as I didn’t know how to compose songs at all, like I wouldn’t even know where to begin. But when it comes to music, it’s not solely just that, because the deeper you go, you’ll realize that there are many different layers to it. I mean for your song to be popular, you need to market it properly, promote it to the right channels etc etc which is what had to be learnt over the years, but here I am now! Still making music, with some of my songs surprisingly being played on the radio which is something that I wouldn’t even think would happen 4 years ago.
Similarly, is this your primary career path or were you involved with something else professionally before you found yourself doing music?
Previously, I was entirely involved in doing visuals and photography, and was set on that for a while and would even consider myself a visual artist. I still do, as I do my own visuals for all of my music, from the press releases to even the music video for all of my releases. I began doing visuals all on my own accord, as it was entirely self taught. I gained all of my skills from youtube and lots of practice, as I am a student under the course. When it comes to photography, I was actually inspired by vsco, it was really big at the time, and had used my iphone 5s as my main medium for photography. I just started by experimenting and teaching myself to take photos, and eventually upgraded my iphone to a proper camera. But then when I started making music, I made the mistake of selling my camera. Looking back at that now i realized that the camera is something i need more than ever now as i need to create the visuals for my music. Because of that, i had to look for others who would be keen enough to join my project and help out.
Besides the song “Falling”, could you share a little about your past music and how they have played a role in influencing the music that you are making now? Do you see yourself borrowing creative outputs & paying homage from your own past work or is your new work independent and devoid of your past?
Even though falling is a new type of music that I recently released, I still take inspiration from past releases since 2018. Like I mentioned earlier, even though you tend to dive into a whole different thing, you still need to look back to your original roots from where you began. That’s why for falling, towards the songwriting, it still has some elements of the songs that I released previously. But at the same time when it comes to the melody, it is still consistent with my past releases but I kind of change it up to make it different. Because in my whole song making process i still manage to make my song super unique because at the same right now the song alling, i honestly don’t know how to categorize it because even though it sounds like afro beat it als holds elements of house, but other people also has mentioned that it sounds like dance pop. These elements that have been going on, I still try to make this release possible. Back then I was really into making songs that are really melancholic; something that you would listen to during late night drives, or when you can’t sleep at 3am. That was like last time though, now, I’m making like the polar opposite of the old songs that i’ve been releasing. Because most of the recent songs that i’ve been making have been happy songs. So it’s been a challenge for me to change this whole image of myself, despite that I still take inspiration here and there from my past releases, be it the melody or the beat.
It is a wonder how creative individuals were creating art in all of its forms during the pandemic. And while it is not a topic we would like to rehash, could you possibly share your own endeavors during the downtime period and how you overcame it?
During the lockdown it’s been really hard for me – and other artists as well – but at the same time I’m privileged enough to utilise the time to find alternatives to keep me going during that time. A lot of people had been affected by the pandemic at the time; be it for song recordings, releases etc. but for me, it really affected me as back in 2020 i was only able to release 1 song due to the MCO. But around 2021 i was able to utilise the time spent at home – like working remotely and all – with the help of Clubhouse (the app) as it was super mainstream at the time and it really helped me connect with a lot of artists. I managed to connect with prominent artists in Malaysia, like the ones that are in the English music industry like Zee Avi, Alex TBH. Plus other producers in the scene as well, like Curly and MFMF. Just through using the app and sending voice notes and all, it’s really surprising and amazing to be able to connect with not just artists, but with people who are part of the behind the scenes of shows and radios, which was around the time i managed to connect with english radios like HitzFM and FlyFM.
But I also benefited through the different rooms in the app, as people there helped me and taught me that music isn’t just solely about the music, but it was also about promoting and marketing it well. That really gave me a bigger perspective about music and how I managed to get here today; thank you that, I’ve gotten featured in news articles like freemalaysiatoday, msn news and all other platforms. Despite it making it hard for me to release new songs, I really tried to keep myself going with different methods in making music. That was the time when most of my friends and I would do it remotely. We would have a brainstorm session through discord, and that’s when we came about with our previous release, “Way up”. But as soon as the interdistrict restriction was lifted, we literally recorded the music video for the song right away; the same goes for Falling, although not all of us could really meet to film it due to one of the videographers being positive for covid. So when it comes to planning, that was done remotely as well, the brainstorming done in whatsapp, telegram etc. and when we did get to meet, we would shoot the music video together as well as the finalization process of the song. For the mixer master part of the song, I didn’t really meet the sound engineer in person at all throughout the music making process of the song, I just sent him the stem files and he sent back the drafts of the mixes and when we finally managed to release it he just sent me the final song which I submitted right away to my distributor.
In a way, you really need to explore all methods. So if plan A doesn’t work, then you should have a back up plan in order for it to work. Despite the mco affecting us all in a lot of ways, we had still managed to find alternative ways to keep things going.
Last question for the day! What are your future plans in music and what’s coming next for Zeauk this year?
I really want to release an ep; not like an entire album yet because they have a lot of songs, and I feel like I can’t fully commit to it yet as I am still doing music on the side as I am still a student. But for release wise, I’ll most probably be releasing a few more singles this year. But for next year, I might finally release an ep after 3 or 4 releases. But career wise, I would really want to consider music as a full time career, though realistically speaking, being an independent artist is really difficult because you need to finance everything by yourself, and when it comes to music you can’t really earn much unless if you’re doing a lot of shows and selling lots of merch; those are two of the main cashful channels of independent artists.
For now, I’ll be doing a corporate job after I graduate, with music still being on the side. So in a way, I’ll be able to finance my music while working. If it really goes well, I will definitely consider my music as my main career in which I won’t have to finance my music by doing something else but financing music through music.