Alextbh talks about “Twink R&B” and the Malaysian music scene

Is it a crime that we’ve heard of alextbh this year? The young vibe maker opened this year’s Laneway Singapore, LGBT flag in hand, singing what he calls “twink R&B” and searching his name online yields all the same familiar moods that “bedroom pop” music have: complete with its raw, somewhat vulnerable sound that’s all too familiar in today’s streaming charts.

It is perhaps a crime considering that alextbh’s homebase is much closer to our own than we think. Hailing from Malaysia, alextbh is probably only the tip of the iceberg in the various music scenes dotting the SEA region. Thanks to platforms like Laneway, we get to hear sounds from artists in neighboring countries that wouldn’t have probably made it to our ears.

But we digress. We get to know more about the rising musician in a sit down interview with alextbh backstage at Laneway Singapore 2018. Here are excerpts from our interview with the rising musician.

Why “alextbh”?

Honestly, I don’t know. Right when I was about to click upload on soundcloud I needed to come up with a station name so yeah that’s how it came about.

Your sound has been described as future funk, but you describe it as “twink R&B” on your instagram page. Could you expound on that? How would you define your sound?

Yeah it’s very true. A lot of my songs gravitate towards funk music because it’s more upbeat and all the chords and guitar parts just make it funk. I feel like R&B is an umbrella term for me despite what i’m doing, it makes it easier for people to relate to.

What is your biggest focus as an artist?

To get convey my message as I want it to be. Sometimes I find it really hard to do that. Like, “Oh I intended for this song to be about me longing for this person,” but it never really translated that way. So what I’m really happy with the way things are for all of my songs is having to make a song that’s upbeat versus a song that’s really depressing.

You said that your lyricism can get a little bit “downy.” Where do you draw inspiration from that? Is it more of a personal thing or just people that you know?

Oh hell yeah. It’s all me. And I’d say it’s a good avenue though, just letting out your energy. It’s not good to keep it inside of you.

Who are your musical influences?

James Blake, Jamie xx, and yeah that’s basically it. I love all of them.

Can you tell us more about the Malaysian music scene?

It’s definitely cultivating right now. There are a lot of different crazy stuff. Like, I didn’t even know we have underground club with funk-edm-techno, shit like that. We do have a lot of different stuff. Like the diversity doesnt really show in Malaysians or like demographics. I see it in other countries as well.

You always find yourself being honest in your music. Has it ever been an obstacle when you play or create music?

No, not really. The very basis of putting down or laying down chords and writing down the lyrics and everything extends from how I felt personally and what i’ve experienced in the past so it’s all 100% true from my heart. Well, there was this one time I was specifically asked to write something about that’s completely out of my comfort zone. It’s not me; I made it, but it’s totally not me.

What do you want people to feel when they hear your music?

“What the fuck is going on?” in a good way.

The internet has been the haven of rising artists like yourself. So how has that aided your music?

I feel like the internet, especially social media, has played a huge part. That’s where you get exposure, that’s where you get recognition. You just can’t stray away from it. Social media is exactly the place where people get to see who you are and as an artist I have always believed that you just dont always sell music, you’re selling attitude and image.

Are you big on social media? Like aside from making music, are you actually on it?

I’m trying to be. Honestly, I’m really into it these days. Now that my life is slightly more interesting, why not right? Back then I was in university, so why would I need all that?

How do you rise above the other artists of the internet?

Well I don’t really have an exact answer for that. I’m figuring it out myself as well. Successful artists depend on a strong image.

You just stepped off stage. You’ve been quite honest about your anxieties on stage. Do you see your music as a platform to empower other people who might be experiencing the same thing?

Personally, yes. I feel like, “holy crap I’m on stage a lot of the time.” There’s more to just showing you guys my music and trying to sell you for my music. I feel like it’s a big opportunity to spread a message to people. So that’s what I’m doing right now.


Photos by Grace de Luna

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