By Adani Bakhtiar
Location: Rooftop Pool, Stripes Hotel, Jalan Kemunting, KL.
Date: 13th July 2017.
I’m personally a huge fan of Alextbh.
Almost lost my shit when I was told to interview him.
We met up at a hotel in the middle of the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur at 10am. 10 freaking am. We both instantly knew that the morning wasn’t for us, but what can you do, work is work.
We took the lift up to the hotel’s rooftop and the moment we went out the building’s door – Holy, such a breathtaking view. The sky was in perfect blue, weather was nice and breezy – I just, wow.
Found our spot at a corner and Alex straight away went “Hey, can you take a photo of me please!?”
Of course I took it. Me? Holding Alextbh’s phone? YAS. That kicked off our borak-like interview –
Shamelessly, after I took his photo, I said, “ Hey, ohmygod, you’ve just released two new singles today right?!”
“Oh she notices! I haven’t even made public announcements just yet! So yeah, it’s Morning (See You Again) and Lead The Way”.
https://open.spotify.com/album/6qlXauzyORmQ6prdCEznDzIf you all follow Alex on social media, you might’ve seen him spilling out some goods on what he’s working out on. The man’s tight-lipped about what exactly he’s hinting at, though.
“I like to tease people.” *Alex smirks *
“As of now, nothing much. I’m focusing on the upcoming ‘Sweet Summer Sweat’ tour with Airliftz and Zamaera & Good Vibes as well.”
The ‘Sweet Summer Sweat’ tour is Alex’s first tour. Ever.
“It’s definitely one of the biggest opportunities that I’ve ever gotten. It was so – it was just really unexpected. Because, A – my tour manager, just came up to me one day and asked if I wanna join him on tour.
I was like, “Waaaait, as in – I actually get to go to another country to perform?” He told me, “Well yeah, in fact, multiple countries.” WHAT. It’s just so surreal for me. I was and still so thankful for this opportunity and all. Also, to tour with Zamaera and Airliftz, and they truly represent the voices of the Hip-hop youth here in Malaysia. It’s just – I just, wow, could’ve not been more thankful.”
“I am excited as excited as you are – in fact, the whole team is. We love seeing new rising artists chasing their dreams.”
“Alextbh, your genre is categorized as electronic in general, but it’s really something all on it’s own – something new here in Malaysia, so what’s kept you moving forward with the direction?”
“I would say that it was definitely a risk – to do something that probably have never been tested or officially published before in this country. But I’m glad that people accept it and embrace it. I believe that my songs resonates with people really well and to have that kind of positive response after a huge gamble – wow, it pays off.”
“Hope it’s not too early to ask but where do you see yourself in – let’s say, three years?”
“I’m actually really open to explore new sounds and creative techniques to express myself. I think that would go forward with the style that I’m with right now, change it up a little here and there – giving it some Asian fusion touch or the easier approach it to sing my genre in the Malay language – imagine singing the R&B tunes to classical Malay words, that’d be really cool.”
“Did you see this coming though? Where you’re at right now?”
“Absolutely not. All of this is relatively new to me, I mean; it has only been less than a year. I wake up everyday, feeling so grateful that I used to ask myself “Why do these things keep on happening to me? Everything’s passing by so fast”, but again, I am so grateful to be able to build a career out of something that I love.”
Less than a year and already touring and such? Much WOW.
“Do you have any collaboration plans or some sort coming your way soon?”
“I never actually put myself in a position to wanting to be collaborated or whatsoever. Whatever that comes in my way, I’ll look into it, find out whether it’s compatible with me.
Just to share, I have collaboration with Sam Rui. Never really expected that to happen. She came to KL, and I’ve always been a huge fan of her’s so I reached out to her. She invited me to her place, and then next thing we know, I showed her this one song that I made and I asked her if she wants to be in it and she was like, “oh noooo, it’s so beautiful I don’t want to ruin the song” and I’m like “no, you’re gonna make the song sound even better!”. And to prove my point, I deleted the second verse and the chorus in the song and said, “Well, I guess someone has to fill in the spot now.” *Alex smirks again*
So yeah, if it spontaneously, naturally happens, then why not? “
Okay let’s twist it just a bit.
“If you had the chance to collaborate with an artist, dead or alive, who would it be?”
“I’ve been asked this question multiple times before omg, and I can’t decide, really. There’s so many in my head right now – really fuzzy, names are just floating in my mind.”
“Okay, how about who influences your music?”
“Oh wow, a lot really – Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys, George Ezra, Ed Sheeran – I could name an entire catalogue. It’s just people I listen to while growing up melodiously, not lyrically though. But okay – if I really had to choose, I think I would choose Taylor Swift. Because honestly, her and I, we share the same sentiment – the whole “all men are trash” thing.”
Alextbh is as the ‘sad boy’ and Taylor Swift is known to be the artist who writes songs based on old flames and her heartbreaks – Would you say you both share the same style of expressing yourselves in music?
“Yeah, basically I am the sad boy. I’ve been labeled that way, and I honestly don’t mind. I’m that bitch that writes a song because I got heartbroken, and it’s true.”
Oh noooo noo, don’t –
Crap, I might’ve triggered him, I think, HELP!
“Yeahhhh that happened. And this is how I deal with my heartbreak. Music is the easiest channel for me to just let all my feelings out. So I understand how Taylor does the same.”
“But Taylor Swift has all this drama going around and has been labeled of ‘petty’…..”
Honestly. I really don’t know why these came out from my mouth.
“Ayyyyy, we got money in return though. So –“ Again, he smirks.
He shut me down. Literally.
Huhu okay. I can’t say much now huh. So what does Alextbh do outside music?
“Nothing much, really. I wanna try and do this music thing full time. Other than that, I do quite a lot of travelling. I do solo travelling sometimes. I’ve been here and there, backpacker hotels, talking about life with strangers.
As a matter in fact, what I’m doing right now is me working. And I’m loving it. Other than that is basically hanging out with my friends, catching up with people.”
Not like most other 20-year olds, I might say. Yes guys, Alextbh is 20.
“I have to say, your Johnny Cash cover of Wayfaring Stranger, that was a really creative cover. Why did you choose that song and make it an official cover single?”
“I knew that song from Ed Sheeran, and I remembered when I first heard his cover many many many years ago and I instantly told myself that I wanted to make this music. I made it with my iPad with ‘Loopy HD’ and ‘Garage Band’ – was basically experimenting with it. It came out… okaaaay, not professionally made or anything. It was 15-year old Alex trying to play around with music, it was wayyyy back then.
Anyway, two years ago, I heard that song again. It appeared on my YouTube main page and I was like “oh waiiit, I forgot I made that cover. Maybe I should do a modern twist, like, ‘How Would Alextbh Revitalize This Old Cover?’ so I took up the challenge and revived the song.”
I’ve listened to a few version of this cover but nothing beats Alextbh’s version. Give it a listen here:
I’ve listened to a few version of this cover but nothing beats Alextbh’s version. Give it a listen here:
“Well, both sides are correct. It’s just up to your interpretation, really. It started off with to-be-honest, only because I used to say it so often that it’s engraved in my head. So, I decided to just put that in my name – “okay what should I put as my stage name?” And that just came about, and it clicks!”
“A few months ago, Spotify listed Stoop So Low under its global playlist ‘Alternative R&B’. That has certainly raised your profile.”
“Oh I was back in Sarawak [my hometown] for a festive celebration when my song was featured in the playlist. I remembered the cell reception was so bad; I couldn’t get on hold of the Internet of whatsoever, and I was like “wait a minute, why do I have like a huge ass spike of like 20,000 plays, what the fuck is happening???” – I really did not expect that to happen. And that made me go “ wow, you are an artist – whoah. This solidifies my whole career decision.
“Alright Alex, personally, I’ve never seen you perform live before. But I will soon at Good Vibes Festival! How does it feel to be listed as one of the acts for the most anticipated festival of the year?”
“Good Vibes will be really really really exciting. I’m honestly really excited. I’m trying on new things with my music and on stage and everything.”
“So what can we look forward to from you during your performance?”
“A really fun, emotional rollercoaster. 30 minutes straight, it’s going to be really chill and expressive. Let’s just all show up and let it all go.”
I am really looking forward to his performance UGH – can’t wait. Best thing to do before the festival is to memorize and vibe to his songs in order to really enjoy the live performance.
“Alright Alex, before we end, is there any messages for all your fans?”
“Okay, to those who slid in my dms [direct messages] on Instagram and Twitter, telling me how much you guys love my music, how my music was the reason that you got together with your significant other – I just UGH it’s so overwhelming. It’s such a good way to wake up to.
And to those who wants to start their own music out there, don’t give up, don’t stop. Don’t be discouraged by how some people treat the music industry here. I do see hope and like – the new generation / millennials are definitely shaping and embracing the industry in ways that I’ve never seen before. Seeing people going out to live shows, supporting local artists, buying physical records – these kind of things are happening and there are platforms for people to make it big here in Malaysia. Just keep it going.”
Love love love Alex’s spirit and energy. Many things are coming your way, Alex.
I had a long time transcribing this interview just because I hated listening to my own laugh – that’s how much fun I had during the interview. (Hopefully it’s a two-way thing).
We hope to see more from you, Alextbh! All the best for you upcoming performances, will definitely catch you live during Good Vibes Festival!