Full text of the interview with I Am David Sparkle that formed the basis of the TODAY article.
I Am David Sparkle is Amran Khamis (AK), Djohan Johari (DJ), Farizwan Fajari (FF) and Zahir Sanosi (ZS).
Singapore bands rarely exist for more than 3 years but you are about to release your 2nd album. What is the secret behind your perseverance?
ZS: A lot of patience, dedication and hard work.
FF: Also, I think it has a lot to do with the band’s genuine interest in wanting to write and play music. Anything beyond that has always been a bonus.
The members of IADS all have day jobs – how do you juggle working life with band commitments?
ZS: Most of the time practice timings and planning is done in advance. Everyone in the band is super busy with their own day jobs/profession but it is always nice to have our 4 to 6 hours a week of Sparkle time to let loose, whether it’s a rehearsal day or just hanging out, gossiping or sharing ghost stories…
AK: Since playing in Sparkle and making music is important for us, we sacrifice other things in order to make this happen. Throughout our time together, there have been lull periods for the band and really busy ones too. It’s just a matter of planning and executing our schedules to whatever else that is happening in our lives too. It is very hard juggling everything, but it’s worth it!
What is your songwriting and recording process? Does any one member dominate creatively? Does anyone outside of the band provide feedback?
DJ: We would sometimes write songs based on a riff or a part anyone of us comes up with and improvise as we move along. We have feedback from friends about our songs, but it’s seldom the case of “Hey you should make that part longer, etc”. Our record label also does provide some constructive feedback during recording production, which does help along the way.
AK: Songwriting as with other creative processes depends on many factors – the original inspiration, the mood or emotion or message that we want to convey, the eventual arrangements based on what direction we would like to achieve, etc… So it’s not an easy, static, formulaic process. We take it as it comes, and see what happens. Sometimes we like what we get out of it, sometimes we don’t. The ones we do, we keep them as the songs we record and play.
Your new album is called ‘Swords’ – what were the new songs influenced by? Could you describe (from your point of view) what the songs on ‘Swords’ sound like?
DJ: ‘Swords’ is a compilation of previously unrecorded tracks as well as newer songs which we have written along the way. Some of the songs in this album are also a little more aggressive as compared to the (2007 album) ‘This Is the New’. The band has been ardent fans of loud and heavy music, so in a way ‘Swords’ is our interpretation of that interest. That being said, the Sparkle feel is still there in some softer tracks.
ZS: Pretty much the sound has changed and basically the whole album is also about the struggles and achievements of the band. Every song is a different story each time. ‘Swords’ is loud, yet therapeutic and calm, and will still make your head explode before eating you up… I think.
What can your fans expect from the album launch – Swords Are Drawn? How long will the set be and will you be playing songs from your previous album and EPs? Will there be any guest appearances? Costume changes?
ZS: People who come to the show will see a lot of dance moves like a spiritual-in-trance session, a lot of bright lights, crazy visuals and awkward moments… haha! I think the show will run until we are tired and definitely we will be doing some old songs. If Jade Seah comes for it, we can only hope that she’ll run up to us and give us a peck on our cheeks during our encore. That would beat our original idea of wearing robes and riding horses as part of the stage act.
DJ: We are very fortunate to have Brandon Tay of Syndicate (celebrated audio/visual collective), which we are fans of, to provide visuals for our set. He’s also going to hook up some motion sensor infra-red stuff to track our movements and generate visuals, so that’s really interesting. The set is going to be about an hour long. I doubt there would be any costume changes, but we did have an early idea of playing in robes for our set! There’s also talk about having guest appearances, but nothing’s concrete. For now, we’re just focusing on tightening up our set.
IADS is one of the few Singapore bands that has toured overseas – what is the experience like playing before audiences in Malaysia, HK and USA compared to Singapore? Any horror stories?
ZS: It’s nice to travel and be around great bands and people. Their hospitality is always excellent and a lot of big indie bands that we play with also have no rockstar attitudes – they carry their own gear, set-up on their own before rocking out, and always have time for drinks and a chit-chat with us and their fans. That said, I also really love the energy and effort by some Singapore bands and music collectives here like B-Quartet, Amateur Takes Control, Impiety, Plain Sunset, Syndicate, Great Spy Experiment and so on, all of which have also been playing overseas.
Our horror stories are more related to the paranormal – most of us in the band are avid fans of “Misteri Jam 12” (a midnight mysteries ghost storytelling radio programme on Malay radio), so yeah we all love to spook ourselves silly with ghost stories, even while on tour.
DJ: The experience of playing overseas is awesome. It’s more like a holiday, spending time with good friends and having a good time. Our horror stories are mostly literally ghost stories. In a past tour to Kuala Lumpur in 2007, we had stayed in a hotel which was supposedly haunted and there were some paranormal activities sensed by our in-house paranormal detective, Mr Farizwan.
FF: Haha! Yeah the ghosts did keep us on our toes. Coming back to the question, most of the people in our audience in Singapore are all our friends, so it’s pretty nice to be performing in front of complete strangers once in awhile, who at the end of it all sometimes become our friends too.
AK: I just wanted to say that we have been lucky to have had our various tours profiled so people know about them, but quite a few other Singapore bands have also played internationally on the quiet as well… What they have done or are continuing to do have helped pave the way for and inspire what we do, and similarly we hope that we can do the same for others as well.
After the launch, what are your plans to promote ‘Swords’, both locally and overseas?
ZS: Right after the launch, we are scheduled to tour Indonesia (Jakarta, Bandung, Jogjakarta and Bali) from 4 to 14 December and Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur and Penang) from 17 to 20 December.
DJ: We’re looking forward to playing Indonesia and Malaysia with their respective bands, which are nothing short of awesome. We are also branching out as a visual and art collective since most of us here are practicing artists and designers, and with that we hope to have a further reach outside the music community.
AK: Those are the immediate plans for us this year, but we will continue with touring the region next year and maybe a bit further away in Europe, should plans and funds work out for us. Interested sponsors, anyone?
Swords Are Drawn, Dec 3, 9.30pm, Esplanade Recital Studio. Tickets at $25 from Sistic.