Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Brunei Town

All grown up

Adib Noor

Since falling in love with music as a little boy prompting him to post his cover songs online, Aziz Harun’s name has since been synonymous with the popular music scene not only in Brunei but also internationally.

“It all started when I was eight, with my first YouTube cover. I did it to keep my sisters, who were studying abroad, updated on my growing love for guitar playing and singing,” said Aziz in an interview.

“I joined Bintang Kecil in 2009 and won, which fuelled the fire. I’d say it brought me to the attention of local singers and the public,” he recollected.

Now 23, Aziz credits his first self-written single, Peace and Harmony, for his breakthrough 12 years ago; a song that was heavily influenced by singer-songwriter Jason Mraz.

“It was my first local hit. I remember it well because I was invited to shows during which I fell in love with showbiz, interacting with a crowd and hearing them sing along to my songs,” said Aziz.

“I was fortunate enough to break into the Malaysian music scene with my song Senyum, produced by Mike Chan and Faizal Tahir. I wasn’t sure what that song had in store for me got me into, but it set me on a journey that I’m still on today,” he added.

Local singing sensation Aziz Harun now has a total of 11 officially released singles, with the most recent one being ‘Kan’. PHOTO: AZIZ HARUN

Asked about his music, the singer described his sound as easy listening and pop with feel-good elements.

“Music-wise I think I’ve always been more guitar-driven with minor jazz chord I’ve picked up from Indonesian pop music and Jason Mraz – a style that I hope caters to all ears.”

Fast forward to today and Aziz now has 11 singles to his name, with the most recent being Kan. “Kan is a song we’ve had been sitting on for quite a while. Due to the pandemic we had to postpone its release because we thought the song should get the promotional efforts it deserves. My first ballad Jauh was a statement that I’ve grown up. In a way, it keeps me from going back to making songs like Senyum and Jangan.”

He added, “Kan was the result of this shift. Musically, it’s a bright and upbeat track, somewhat like my songs before. But I’d say producer and co-writer Ezra Kong was more meticulous with the sounds and instruments used, allowing the song to sit nicely in this time and age, where production is a little bit more complex.

“In contrast, the lyrics, co-written by Romeo, carry quite a sad tone on hope in the earlier stages of a relationship; the possibility of being led on, fake feelings and gestures not being reciprocated. I wanted the song to be relatable to young adults who feel or have felt this sort of insecurity, and that it is normal, and sometimes begs the question, Kau katakan ya, kau katakan tidak? (Do you say yes, or do you say no?).”

The latest single is accompanied by a music video that used trick shots to induce a comical twist. It can be interpreted in many ways, which the singer said, he will leave it up to the viewers to decide.

Being a young talent with years of experience under his belt, Aziz believes he has learnt a lot in the business.

“I’ve grown up, so I feel I have to put my foot down and say this is the journey I’ll be pursuing, which might not be the conventional path for a Bruneian. But I hope to set an example, just like my Bruneian singer friend Jaz in Indonesia, who’s shown that it is possible to make a career out of something you love,” he said. “I love music and I love what I do when I get the chance to do it. Pursuing music allows me to have more chances to do what I love.”

Not many get to enjoy opportunities that I have been given, so for me to stop and not make the most out of them would be very foolish.” With success comes challenges and Aziz admitted to having faced a few himself.

“The rapid growth of new social media platforms, such as TikTok, has challenged me the most.

“The type of content produced these days is shorter and in a way more ‘hooky’ then the three-minute cover videos I’m used to.

“I’ve been posting covers for a long time and music is predominantly what I share with my fans. But these days, to grow as an artist, you’ve got to be willing to share a bit more and it is something I’m still learning.”

Hailing from a country where singers seldom break into other parts of the Malay-speaking world, Aziz hopes to draw attention to other Brunei musicians and artists.

“Mostly, I hope to change the perception that music can only be pursued part-time. I want to show that it can actually be made into a career.

Asked if he had any advice for aspiring musicians, he said, “Keep going at it. You can do anything you put your mind a to. Keep practicing. Change is inevitable, so learn to adapt.

Take advantage of social media! Don’t think too much; just post!”

Aziz’s latest single, Kan, is available on all major streaming platforms such as YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music.