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02/03 Saturday 11:06AM

bruneions interview zul faden

Zul F - Singer. Songwriter. Model. Bruneian. Meet Brunei’s most well-known home-grown music talent who shot to fame in 2005 when he won the country’s first talent reality show - Passport to Fame (P2F). That same year, he recorded ‘Engkau Adalah Cinta’ in Kuala Lumpur and performed the song in Malaysia’s Selayang Stadium.  Zul also sang for His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei’s 60th Birthday. Over the next 2 years, he flew to celebrity heights and has worked tirelessly to bring more of his music to his fans, near and far.  He launched his first single ‘Bersama Bintang’ in Brunei and became the first Brunei artiste to debut a music video, ‘Dari Mata’ on MTV Asia.

Zul F recently released his first album ‘Memori Cinta Zul F’ featuring 10 songs, mostly written by him. He is currently also the Goodwill Ambassador for the Jerudong Park Playground. Bruneions got to talk to this suave performer about his album, love and dreams.  And yes, we were helplessly charmed along the way too.

Your debut album ‘Memori Cinta Zul F’ is out, congratulations! What is your favourite track on this album? Tell us something about this album and any ‘Cinta’ memories associated with it?
Why thank you! It’s finally out and I’m extremely happy my fans are able to relate to it. My favourite track from this album is “Jangan Sesali” -- this track, to me, is an “honest” song. I wrote it about three years ago when I was recovering from a bad break-up and it’s sort of therapeutic. I wrote it as a person giving advice to myself. It talks about letting go and moving on with life. The positive feel to it is supposed to uplift dampened spirits. This album, to me, is unique in a way that it revolves around my love life -- all the ups and downs I had experienced in the past. I firmly believe love songs are something beautiful to sing about and they never get old. So I wanted to have that “timeless”tone to it. This album’s co-executive producers include myself, Lily Chiam and Hans Anuar. I’d composed about 90% of the songs, except for ”Sepi”. “I Don’t Want Love Songs” is co-written by me and Hans.

How long did it take from conception to final production for this album?
I had a ball producing this album! Honestly speaking, it didn’t take very long to produce it. I’ve always had the idea of “giving back” to my fans, even when I was being managed. But soon after leaving my previous management, the whole idea sort of manifested into something substantial. I threw the idea at Hans and he decided to help me out. So we finally did it during Ramadhan this year. It took us slightly over one month to get all the songs recorded, mixed and mastered. I’m very lucky to have such good friends whom I personally consider as mentors -- Lily and Hans. They have helped me quite a lot in terms of production. They have guided me well and they were very supportive of my ideas. I even came up with the name of the album, as well as ideas for its design. But of course I got a friend to help me out with the technical aspect of the design.

How would you describe your music in general?
This album sort of gives my listeners a preview of my forte -- I’m very much into R&B, Soul & Ballad, having grown up listening to these types of music. However, over the years I have also experimented with several other genres, but I stayed true to my roots in this album and I will continue to give my very best in the future.

When did you first start writing songs and what made you want to do it?
I started composing songs even when I was a teenager. Writing was an outlet for me and I’d always known then what I wanted to become -- an artiste, so I sort of geared myself towards that direction. But back then I never had the confidence to share them with anybody. When I first met Lily Chiam, however, my first task was to translate a track from her debut album called “Where Can I Go”. That’s how “Manaku Pergi” came about. It’s our very first collaboration and the reception has been phenomenal, even up to this day. That’s the moment when I knew that I should be writing and publishing my own original songs, although there’s still plenty more to learn.

What do you think of the local intellectual property law?
I think it’s great to have a law in place to protect intellectual property. However, I feel that the public is not very aware of its significance, or relevance for that matter. I think that “neglect” is one of the contributing factors to the ever-growing piracy. There’s an urgent need to be proactive when it comes to this matter.

Do you think it is important to protect your work?
Protecting one’s work is as important as protecting one’s life. Whatever we think of or any ideas that we have created should be secured. Otherwise, our work will be easily accessible and exploited and in the end it won’t do anybody any good.

In your opinion, how are songwriters are being robbed these days? and who are the worst offenders?
Songwriters are being robbed through the system of “Piracy” and the worst offenders are those who deliberately neglect the value of people’s original work. It has a ripple effect -- when one person does it, the rest will follow suit. I seriously think it has become a culture and it’s a hard one to break as well. It is indeed a big problem now in a way that it is quite tough to eradicate. As much as we would like to enforce the law, people are still doing this through “black markets”. These markets don’t just appear in movies -- I truly believe “black markets” are real.

As a recording artiste, how do you feel about internet sites where you can download songs for free?
There are many ways of looking at this. If it’s for promotional gain, then I think it isn’t such a bad idea. However, in the long run, the artiste will suffer because they are not earning a cent from the downloads. There are things that may be given away for free, but people’s original work should not be. I feel very strongly about this. Perhaps, the internet sites could strategise in a way that maybe they would allow people to download songs for free, but within a time frame (strictly for promotional purposes). But after that, people should spend on buying the songs.

Is there anyone you would like to compose for? Or anything you would like to write a song about?
At the moment I haven’t thought of anyone I would like to compose for. I have an archive of song lyrics on my computer and I will continue writing until they can be further manifested into a series of hit songs. Haha! I’ve been writing about songs that reflect my personal experiences. Perhaps, I’d write about things that could reach out to people globally -- like the great Michael Jackson did.

whatever we think of or any ideas that we have created should be secured. otherwise, our work will be easily accessible and exploited and in the end it won’t do anybody any good.

Who or what are your biggest musical influences?
When I was growing up I listened to a lot of African-American singers like Mariah Carey, Luther Vandross, Babyface, Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men and Toni Braxton. But the one who inspired me the most would have to be Mariah Carey, simply because of her vast vocal abilities. She’s such an inspiration and I am pretty sure great singers around the world will feel the same way about her as well. 

What do you feel is the most important thing about writing a song?
On top of being honest, being genuine is also very important. Otherwise people won’t be able to relate to what you’re writing. It’s all about feeling what you’re feeling when you’re writing the song.

What do you think of the local music industry at the moment and where do you see it 5 years from now?
We haven’t got an “industry” in place yet. What we do have is a music scene. There’s a big difference. Perhaps, in the next 5 or 10 years, people will start realizing the importance of nurturing and celebrating God-given talents. In Brunei alone I feel there is a lot of raw talents, especially among youths. We need a proper center for these talented youths. I dream of building a “Performing Arts Center” for these youngsters -- hopefully this dream will come true. Amin.

Any composer who inspires you?
I like Babyface and David Foster. I think they are simply amazing talents!

we haven’t got an “industry” in place yet. what we do have is a music scene. there’s a big difference.

Tell us what is a typical day for Zul F like?
A series of unexpected events! Haha! Well I like keeping myself very busy because I get bored easily. So I like occupying my time being productive. But I don’t mind relaxing or exercising from time to time, to relieve stress.

A website and/or blog you visit often?
www.mariahdaily.com and oh, my Facebook & website -- Zul Faden! Haha!

One way you market yourself?
Facebook / website. It does wonders.

What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue song writing as a full time job?
Just keep writing and do not be afraid of taking risks. Don’t shy away from sharing and get people’s feedback from time to time so you can keep improving yourself. Also, don’t get too sensitive when people criticize your work. We can’t always please everybody, right?

What projects are you working on now? What’s in store for the future?
Well, I’m working on something major, which is related to a previous question that I answered. Hint: “MY dream”. But I don’t want to jinx it. Haha! We’ll just see what happens! I’m also going to start acting soon, so I’m very excited about that. I have just received an offer to become the male lead actor. I’ve always wanted to act actually, but I never had the chance to in the past. Right now though, I’m exploiting every potential I have and I just want to share it... for the whole world to see. I would also like to establish myself fully as a competent international artiste.

Something you’re still learning?
Oh we can never stop learning. I believe the learning curve never stops, except of course, when you don’t belong to this world. Learning makes you humble and we can never truly be a “master” of something, as life throws you different things everyday... every minute and every second and that’s our golden opportunity to open up and learn more things.

What is your greatest fear?
Mmm... losing my voice?

If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be?
Mariah Carey :)

Your favourite movie of time?
“A Walk To Remember” (if you’re talking about romance). But I love comedies too.My favourite would be “Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion”.

And finally, if you had one wish…
I would go international all the way and be a blessing to my country...my people... and of course, the many lives that I can touch around the globe.

Photos © www.zulfaden.com

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