For someone who grew up in a predominantly Chinese church and also a self-proclaimed “typical Asian kid” who was sent for classical piano lessons, Shelhiel’s affinity for singing and playing music developed pretty organically. Music to him was a language that he used to communicate and connect with others, and it grew into a passion that led him to create his own sound to express himself better. Having landed his break with 8TV’s The Ultimate Song songwriting competition, Shelhiel has since honed his craft not only as an artiste but also a producer.
Looking back at your journey so far, was there something you wish you had done differently?
I was doing my Architecture degree in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia when I joined the competition and it delayed my semester for a while. But I went back to finish up my studies immediately after that, and not signing up with a songwriting or publishing deal was one of the best decisions I’ve made. It allowed me to further explore production, composition, beat cyphers, live sets, DJ-ing and grow into electronic music.
Who would you say are your music influences?
Lido, Dean, Kanye West, Jolin Tsai, Charli XCX, BewhY, James Blake, M-flo, Heize and so many more! My influences are mostly related to electronic music, because I started by playing PC games on Windows 98, XP etc. I didn’t realise how much “raving” I was already doing since I was 11 or 12 up until almost the end of high school, listening to hardcore, funky, techno or housy 8-bit music by Yuzo Koshiro. And no one can ever forget the classic Pokémon game BGM.
Tell us about your new EP.
Superstrobe is a story of me encountering love and loss in relationships. I was into so many different genres, it was quite hard to curate a journey which I could really appreciate the listening experience. Opening the EP is a story of an angelic being, experiencing life and vibing to it, and it ends with a heartbreak song. The EP should be listened to in one go as it is designed as a journey for the listeners for the full “Shelhiel experience”.
Is there a song you’ve written that’s particularly special to you?
Such a tough question! But it’s probably the last song, Runnin, Merindu featuring NYK and Airliftz. I wrote the song two years ago when I was ditched by a girl whom I thought was the one (laughs). I just picked up my guitar and started humming these melodies, and it’s my first-ever Malay song. I was listening to lots of Indonesian and Malay bands and artistes at the time like Noh Salleh, Efek Rumah Kaca, and White Shoes & The Couples Company.
You have quite a distinctive image and presence especially on social media. Do you see it as an extension of your music?
Definitely. Starting out with electronic music, music and visuals have always been important elements especially in live shows, where DJs and VJs perform side by side to create a new virtual immersive experience. Working with my art director friend Curly for almost a year just proved to me that you can always elevate the world-building and story-telling experience to your audience.
TIMUR GABRIEL (@TIMURGABRIEL)
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