Recently we had the pleasure of having a short interview with an incredibly talented Singaporean musician Zephyr Khambatta. He is a singer, rapper, songwriter, drummer and actor but if all these are not enough, he is also running a local record label named Reunion X Records.
As a music producer myself, I had met countless number of musicians and professionals in the industry but I have to say Zephyr had always been one of most interesting individuals for me, because of his passion for music and more importantly for how he constantly is on the look to share his experience and skills with his fellow musicians, and that is why I was looking forward for interviewing him.
Drums, a little bit of keys, sing a little bit, write songs and produce music.
2. Describe your first instrument. Why you started it?
Drum Kit. Always had a fascination with rhythm and beats. Used to do Michael Jackson moves since young so dance and rhythm was something very close to me as a hobby.
3. What are your fondest musical memories?
Listening to music that hooks me in.
4. Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions?
Yes about 120 shows live so far mostly on drums, and a few on vocals. Everything from TV to Film to Bar Gigs to Student Recitals to Concerts to Band Competitions.
You learn a lot when performing live and it definitely contributes to your "mileage" as a musician. I've performed 10 metres from president Nathan and I've also performed in an empty bar. I've performed and been judged in a competition by Iskandar Ismail as the top band (I was the drummer) and I've also performed at a death metal gig where I completely messed up the double pedals.
I'm just gonna quote Michael Jordan here. "I've failed over, and over and over and over again in my career. And that is why, I succeed."
I haven't practiced drums seriously in ages, now I practice as I teach, or when a recording for an artiste or myself is coming up. I practice vocals daily while driving and sometimes in the studio. I tried the regimental practice thing for a good 4-6 years while at music college and after that for drums and vocals, and it certainly leads to skills and confidence.
Strangely though, sometimes your body needs weeks off at a time and when you come back to training, you feel a lot stronger and a lot more like a master. It's like sports. Your body breaks down during training. When it grows, is during recovery.
Something that has served me well over the years as my skills just seem to be going up and up and up. Slowly, and steadily.
6. Do you teach music?
Yes it's my full time profession other than writing songs and releasing them. I feel the music schools that I've taught at were quite nonsensical, so I've decided to start my own private practice. With the right investment partners, we could open up a brick and mortar location someday.
7. How do you feel about the internet in the music business?
Great news. If you're good, people will know very quick. If you're rubbish, people will also know very quick. So be good.
None really, I would say I'm cruising comfortably currently. I never started on vocals but on drums, so my vocals need work. However, if I had started on vocals I'm sure they would be as good as my drums by now. I tend to work systematically and incessantly. So... in due time, everything becomes easy. No challenges per se in as a "solo artist" but I think our growth as human beings and towards being mature people affects everything we do, including the music journey.
So... there's been a lot of personal growth over the past 5 years and hence many ups and downs.
9. Had you ever faced rejection from the public? If so, how did you deal with it?
All the time. Just a week back someone shared my first music video on Facebook with the caption "How to release a song with zero production value." I guess he didn't know that MTV and VH1 played the song, and that the song brings tears to people's eyes. Or maybe... he thinks he knows more than world music authorities. It's possible, I'm not judging him.
For me though, life is a beautiful journey and everything comes down to taste, perception and subjectivity.
If I like Vanilla, and 1,000,000 people around me like Vanilla, then that's what we like. If you like Chocolate and puke when you eat Vanilla then so be it. That's your body. That doesn't mean that that's my body. I'll continue being happy with Vanilla and you can continue being happy with Chocolate. Just because you don't like a song I make, doesn't make me "right", "wrong", "good", "bad" or anything of that nature.
It just makes me, me. And it makes you, you. We have to live with that. I'm good with that.
10. What was the worst and the best comments you have ever received about your music?
Best: "You are a really good drummer" "You are the next Freddy Mercury" "You are so talented" "You have raw talent" "Watch out for this boy." "Insane." "You would be a really really good producer." "Genius."
Worst: "How to release a song with zero production value." "Arrogant." "What music career?" "Your sounds are too old school." "You can't sing." "He can't play."
11. Any last words?
The last time I heard that phrase someone shot someone in a movie right after. Please don't shoot me.