Making music comes more easily to some than it does others. This “some” we’re talking about here is Shelhiel, who’s been involved in music for 7 years now. He has been boldly creating and honing his craft in writing and producing music. A week ago, I had a FaceTime call with him and casually bounced off eight questions with him. Some of them encompassed the pains of being in quarantine, missing the touch and physical existence of friends and other loved ones besides family members. We also got a sneak peek to his upcoming album. Okay, not exactly a sneak peek, whereas a peep through the crack in the keyhole. We talk about his upcoming EP and the type of songs that are going to be in it. We then both wrapped up the entire interview with a FaceTime Photoshoot ala Mula. Call it an artistic vision or aesthetic pleasure, it was truly a pleasure to work and shoot with Shelhiel, even digitally.
SINCE WE LAST TALKED, HOW HAVE YOU BEEN? HOW HAVE YOU BEEN KEEPING BUSY?
I’m busy writing my own new music and finishing some older ones, and yeah that’s pretty much it. I’ve been working from home since the MCO, and it’s just been kinda hard for me ’cause sometimes you just want to go out and meet your friends, and now you can’t even do that. So, in that area, of friends and keeping close to them, there’s been more FaceTime calls.
WHAT’S THE PROGRESS ON THE MUSIC YOU’VE BEEN MAKING? IS IT COMPLETE?
It’s been a rush, definitely. I just needed one to two more songs and I think all that’s left is finalization and completion, then mixing and mastering.
OK, BIG REVEAL WHAT’S THE NAME OF YOUR EP AND WHAT’S THE MUSIC IN IT SOUNDING LIKE?
No! Sorry guys, I wanna keep the name as a secret first! This debut EP is kind of a pretty big deal for me. I would say it’s an attempt to showcase my skill set as a producer and artist because everything was done by me. It’s also the expression of my feelings these two years, transferred into my music. There are upbeat pop songs, sad ones, chill ones, a concept EP of where the main character experiences life’s ups and downs, heartbreaks, all of it written into different songs. It’s introductory to the world of “Shelhiel’s” sound.
I LISTENED TO YOUR MUSIC AND IT’S A MIX OF ENGLISH, MALAY, AND CHINESE. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO MIX AND MATCH YOUR MUSIC THIS WAY?
At first, I wanted to follow the “norm” or the idea of maybe focusing on one single language so that it can be pushed to a certain language market. Then I realized that due to my upbringing and the cultures I’ve been absorbing–listening, living with, speaking with, friends I hang out and grew together with–it only made sense to mix and match my music. We live in a mixture of multilingual cultures in Malaysia and that’s something so endearing and personal to me. I can’t fake this feeling. Hopefully, my music can bridge all these genres and languages.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH AKHYLA?
It was a fun time! Man, it’s been a while people mentioned it up. We were always in friendly competition mode, me, Reddi Rocket, Yahna, Nobi, Kain, VMPRMYTH, used to just join beatcyphers Midnight Oil (it’s like Team Supreme but curated in Malaysia) or sending new beats every day in our telegram group chat, and everyone is giving constructive criticism to each other to improve better. It’s a very celebratory feeling, where everyone just really appreciates the different styles of each other’s music, and still be in the same collective. Gosh, I miss being in a collective, but it’s a good thing that everyone is pushing their own solo stuff now as well. Here, you can basically see how diverse everyone’s sounds are.
PRIOR TO THIS INTERVIEW, WE WERE HAVING A PERSONAL DISCUSSION ON HUMAN TOUCH, AND HOW IMPORTANT IT IS FOR ONE TO HAVE HUMAN TOUCH TO FEEL AND UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS TO BE A HUMAN BEING? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS ASPECT FROM YOUR POINT OF VIEW?
For me, it hurts more in maintaining my personal well-being without being able to meet your friends. Also, work-wise with not being able to meet your clients and gigs being cancelled, it’s up to you being alone at home in Kedah. I mean, yeah I did my part to maintain my connections with my friends digitally on social media and via phone calls/FaceTime, but humans are designed to be living in a community, to meet old friends or new people––that’s the way it should be healthy natural communication.
Yet, somehow, virtual communities & festivals are thriving like the virtual music festival I played in Club Matryoshka. We got a line-up of Starro, Mark Redito, Tomggg, and other DJ/producers/artists from all over the world. The hype and excitement of it were just as hyped as a real festival because the sets were just so fire. Everyone really pushed through and put their hearts into their performances. I guess the only difference is that you’re not holding your beer or physically being with your friends, but joining the festival on Minecraft with your avatars, jumping, having virtual drinks, and being virtually drunk (yep you can do that!). A new experience, still good times.
THIS PANDEMIC HAS BEEN SO ISOLATING AND SEPARATING FROM LIFE ITSELF. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING TO KEEP YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ALIVE?
My family and I are just fine because everyone moved back to my hometown, which is not really a good thing as well when everyone is cramped in the house not being able to go anywhere. It’s also not the best environment to work on my music especially when you want to record something. I need to always make an announcement to everyone so that they won’t make any noise for about an hour or so. I’ve been texting and doing video calls, way more FaceTime. I think over time it’s not the best thing to always be on your phone, and definitely not healthy to be on Instagram way more than usual. I’m just waiting to move to KL as I’ve rented a place there and will be based in Kl for good (like finally).
SO, FOR THIS INTERVIEW WE’RE ALSO DOING A FACETIME PHOTOSHOOT! TELL US ABOUT THE OUTFITS THAT YOU CHOSE TODAY.
As a big Taobao fan, all my clothes are from online sites, thrift stores and Taobao. Also, the mask is designed by a local Malaysian designer, Shaofen. We started working together ever since my show last year at Future Rising KL by Mixcloud & W Hotels. I’ve realized that I’m subconsciously expressing myself in the theme of the music that I’m doing now, so more grey tones and whites this time for the shoot. It also portrays what I’m wearing now on my day to day life (prior to quarantine). Surprisingly, I’m wearing what I’m feeling, the mood with the concept of my music and I do believe that how you build your appearance will affect you back in one way or so. When I had longer hair, my music was more emotional, gloomy and when I had orange hair, I made quite a few upbeat songs. For what’s next, stay tuned!