Dou­ble trou­ble

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ARTS -

HE sounded surly over the phone when this in­ter­view was be­ing ar­ranged. He even looks moody in press pho­tos. But vi­o­lin­ist Dennis Lau, who is fast gain­ing a pop cross­over pro­file, is any­thing but high­lystrung in per­son.

So I lit­er­ally breathed a sigh of re­lief when the bleach-blonde vi­o­lin­ist greeted us with a smile dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­view at his homes­tu­dio in Subang, Se­lan­gor.

In­side, his liv­ing room was a lively splash of red, white and black. Tucked in a cor­ner was a grand pi­ano, a gui­tar, and eye-catch­ing knick-knacks and mem­o­ra­bilia from fam­ily and friends. Paint­ings and pho­tographs laced the walls. Much like the eclec­tic cross­over projects he is known for, his cosy abode screams creative may­hem.

His lat­est record ef­fort, Unity Of Arts, with lo­cal beat­boxer Shawn Lee, en­meshes funky hip hop beats with black-suit clas­si­cism. He calls the col­lab­o­ra­tion, on which he plays the vi­olin against Lee’s thump­ing mouth-mu­sic, a pure, ac­ci­den­tal ex­per­i­ment. In fact, they started the project on a whim. “We met at an event late last year and just de­cided to start jam­ming here one night. It drove the neigh­bours crazy but we fig­ured we could re­ally do a col­lab­o­ra­tion from then,” re­called Lau with a laugh.

The an­i­mated 26-year-old, who also heads his en­ter­tain­ment com­pa­nies, Mo­saic Mu­sic En­ter­tain­ment and Mo­saic Movie Pro­duc­tions, adds that he has a pen­chant for mix­ing the classical vi­olin with con­tem­po­rary el­e­ments.

“I like to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent gen­res just to see what hap­pens. I think that ex­per­i­men­ta­tion is the key to evo­lu­tion.

“My col­lab­o­ra­tion with Shawn also fea­tures this group of street-dancers called the Wakaka crew. I think it’s some­thing re­ally dif­fer­ent from what has been done. It also in­tro­duces how hip hop and classical mu­sic can come to­gether,” he ex­plained.

The duo caught ev­ery­one’s at­ten­tion when they hit the streets with their ex­plo­sive ef­fort at Ber­jaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur ear­lier this year.

“We went on to per­form in Lon­don for the Is­lamic Fash­ion Week and then in Sin­ga­pore,” said Lau, who also head­lined the re­cent Merdeka Day cel­e­bra­tions in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia.

Last year, he launched a lim­ited edi­tion al­bum aptly ti­tled DiversiFy. He also per­formed for a crowd of 13,000 as the open­ing act of Amer­i­can singer Adam Lam­bert in Vi­o­lin­ist dennis Lau meshes funky hip hop beats with black-suit clas­si­cism in his ex­plo­sive team-up with lo­cal beat­boxer Shawn Lee. Kuala Lumpur last Oc­to­ber.

Be­sides his bur­geon­ing mu­si­cal ca­reer, Lau also made his first ma­jor big-screen ap­pear­ance as the cocky chef Lan Qiao in Name­wee’s Nasi Lemak 2.0, which is play­ing in cine­mas now.

In spite of his suc­cesses, Lau, bla­tantly hon­est as he is, con­fessed:

“Peo­ple still ask me things like, ‘Mu­si­cians in Malaysia can sur­vive meh?’ I be­lieve you can sur­vive in any field as long as you have a pas­sion for it.

“Though of course, you also have to be unique in what you do. Get to know your forte and your core au­di­ence, then work to­wards that.”

Lee, 19, is hot on his trail. True to his catch­phrase, “the small boy with big sounds”, the young man is a real fire­cracker. De­spite his size, Lee re­ver­ber­ates with con­fi­dence and is tire­lessly elo­quent in speech.

No sur­prises then that at only 17, the upand-com­ing artiste made the top 10 at the World Beat­box­ing Cham­pi­onshop in 2009. “That was ac­tu­ally my first com­pe­ti­tion. Can you imag­ine the world cham­pi­onship be­ing your first com­pe­ti­tion? That ex­pe­ri­ence was crazy but amaz­ing,” an en­thu­si­as­tic Lee re­counted his ex­pe­ri­ence in Ber­lin, Ger­many.

He com­peted against 45 con­tes­tants from 40 coun­tries and picked up the ninth place.

“I met so many peo­ple from so many dif­fer­ent coun­tries. We don’t speak the same lan­guage but we all spoke one lan­guage that was beat­box and some­how ev­ery­one man­aged to com­mu­ni­cate with that,” he said.

Lee also won the first ever Malaysian Beat­box cham­pi­onship in 2009.

“There are ac­tu­ally very good beat­box­ers in Malaysia and I’m very ac­tive on the Malaysian Beat­box­ers com­mu­nity on Face­book.”

He says his ap­ti­tude for the art came nat­u­rally.

“I ac­tu­ally started beat­box­ing when I was about eight, though I didn’t know what beat­box­ing was at that time. I just started mak­ing sounds with my mouth along to the mu­sic I heard from the ra­dio.

“The Back­street Boys and Aaron Carter was all the rage when I was grow­ing up and I would come up with beats to their songs with­out re­ally know­ing what I was do­ing. It came out of my mouth just like that.”

Lee has YouTube to thank. “It came about when I was 14 and that was when I found out there were peo­ple who were mak­ing mu­sic and per­form­ing with this thing I was do­ing. I learned more about it from the In­ter­net and slowly de­vel­oped my skills from there.”

He took his in­ter­est to the stage when he be­gan per­form­ing in church when he was 17. “That was my first on-stage per­for­mance. I did sim­ple stuff – not ex­actly gospel or any­thing like that – just beat-box­ing and I was sur­prised that peo­ple were en­ter­tained.”

Be­ing in the lime­light hasn’t changed his style, though. Lee stays adamantly true to his hip hop ori­gins.

“I don’t dress su­per glam­orous, even when I’m at one of those high-end events with Dennis. I’ve been asked to wear coats when I’m per­form­ing but it doesn’t quite go with what I do. I’m street, so I dress street. I like my skin­nies, my high-cuts and a nice, cool jacket. Some peo­ple don’t get that,” he said.

The en­gag­ing per­former, who is cur­rently study­ing sound en­gi­neer­ing also re­veals plans to ven­ture into film­ing.

“It all started when my dad gave me a re­ally huge dig­i­tal cam­era when I was 12 and I did all sorts of crazy videos with my friends.

“Ul­ti­mately, I would love to do both mu­sic and film – just like what Name­wee is do­ing – they go to­gether like bread and but­ter,” he added. The small boy is also in a hurry to grow up. “I feel like I’m mov­ing too slow. I’m al­ready at the end of my teen years and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I’m go­ing to be 20! Am I mov­ing too slow?’” he asked.

“Some­times I feel like I’m at a dead-end. Peo­ple are like, wow he’s so young and he’s per­formed over­seas. But for me, I feel like I could have achieved more at an even younger age and I’m con­stantly think­ing, ‘When am I go­ing to get there?’”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.