During a press conference held yesterday, Chosen Male - Zul F, Chosen Female - Maria, Chosen Group - The Seeds, Chosen Song - 'Kau Tetap Milikku' composed by Eswandee, and Origin Artistic Management representative Siti were clearly all still beaming from their win. The conference took place at Studio A at Radio Television Brunei.
Nineteen-year-old Maria is a student and is currently waiting for her 'O' Level results. When asked how she finds time to practice singing, she said the only way is during study breaks. "I enjoy listening to music whilst I study, and when it gets a bit too stressful, I would take a short break and would sing along to the songs playing in my iPod," she said.
Zul F, a 27-year-old education officer, took part in the first Pelangi Award and found the second one to be much more celebrated. He humbly mentioned that he didn't expect to win, as the other nominees were just as good. He started singing when he was only seven, and is currently waiting for the launching of his new album. A fan of Mariah Carey and Malaysian singer Anuar Zain, he said he's now expanding his horizon and is incorporating different types of genre into his upcoming album.
Meanwhile, 29-year-olds Hardee and Dillah of The Seeds, an acoustic/easy listening band, said they used to sing cover songs at weddings and never thought about singing or composing their own songs. Dillah finds that Bruneaians are more impressed with locally-produced songs and thinks that the Pelangi Awards is a good chance for new talents to break out of their mould and prove their worth.
They both started singing for the 'fun of it' back in their schooling years. From there, they started performing at weddings and finally in 2006, they started composing their own songs.
"Since we're both working full-time, finding the time to commit ourselves to our music requires good time management," said Hardee. "I sometimes have to work at night, so the only time I'd get to practice is during my spare time, which is not much at all due to my line of work."
Eswandee, 33 said that when he started to compose songs some years ago, there was no special platform to motivate as well as aid him. Now, with Pelangi FM, particularly the Pelangi Award, the need to compose a song that will be recognised and accepted amongst locals has increased. Comparing the reaction about locally- composed songs, he said, "Some time ago, when people hear a Bruneian song, they'll question whether it's good or not without really giving it a real listen. Now, once they hear the song, they will want to find out more and will be surprised to find out that it's a Bruneian song."
Siti from Origins Artistic Management - who manages Zul F, their first and only artiste so far - says that they are currently looking for more local talents, those with entertainment value and personality - particularly the ability to stand out in terms of aesthetics in order to appeal to the fans or potential fans.
"As both Malaysia and Indonesia each have their own distinctive artists that are recognisable through their songs and how they bring themselves, that is what Origins Artistic Management is trying to do with the local Brunei talents. I want to find the best so that people would say 'oh, their music is like this' in an impressed tone," she said.
She said that the most important part of managing an artist, which includes producing a proper album, is money. "To make a proper album costs thousands of dollars. The cost for promotion on the other hand is triple the amount."
"We find a lot of Bruneians singing songs by Malaysian and Indonesian artistes, so the challenge is to turn the table around so that one day, both Malaysians and Indonesians artistes will sing songs by Bruneians," said Hardee. "However, this is difficult to achieve as we'll need proper management, especially one that is dedicated in making us penetrate into the regional music scene."
The topic of juggling between their full-time day job and part-time singing also came up, which then progressed to whether if any of them have ever thought about pursuing their singing career full-time.
Zul F was the only one amongst them who has (an upcoming) album under his belt which is to be circulated regionally, and he said that if his singing career is to one day take off, he might take it to the next level professionally and commit himself to his singing career full time. Maria wants to focus on her studies first, but said that if the Bruneian music scene one day stabilises, then she herself will also pursue it professionally.
Family men Dillah and Hardee were a bit hesitant to give a direct answer, as they don't just have themselves to think about, but then eventually said that they might consider it.
The Weekend interviewed a member of the public, Azmi Safar, on what he thinks about local artists, and he said that they "need a lot of improvement, especially if they intend to become recognised regionally."
However, he thinks a few of them have the potential to make it internationally with proper and good management, production, marketing, exposure and publicity, particularly Maria.