IT SEEMS they are certainly deceptive to Wan Umar Shahid, for when the sun met, the up-and-coming singer-songwriter was taller than he appeared in the photographs.
And then, this is how his boyish face betrays the timbre of his voice.
“I sing with a baritone voice,” says Shahid, who sings popular songs under the stage name Sounds of Kites.
“When I first played guitar, to be honest, I was mostly singing pop songs, like [those by the band] Fall out Boy. At one point, I tried to play like Maroon 5. Then it was Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, but I couldn’t sing ‘well’, “she explained.
After discovering and falling in love with musician Richard Hawley, who sang the baritone, Shahid began experimenting with singing in that range.
“I realized that when I sang (Hawley’s) songs, I could reach the notes and I felt very comfortable. It also seemed to give me a unique advantage as well, “she said.
However, anyone who has listened to even one of his songs would tell you that while they have folk overtones, Sounds of Kites stands out from other contemporary folk projects.
In a way, Shahid’s baritone singing gives his folk songs a unique twist.
No hasty quality
Like Sounds of Kites, Shahid recently released his second album, faceless nameafter its debut Remember Sycamorefour years ago.
Assuming the release gap was due to factors such as the balance of an office job and music production, or perhaps even due to the pandemic, Shahid was quick to dispel the hypothesis.
“When I released the debut album in 2018, I didn’t want to continually release an album year after year. I wanted to let it be “.
“I’m going to be forgotten when I’m gone,” says Shahid, citing Kristian Matsson’s song “The Wild Hunt” / The Tallest Man on Earth.
“That line was stuck in my head.”
“When I released the first album, I thought I’d go on tour, promote the album as much as possible, but once it’s done, I’ll let it accumulate from other albums. I was satisfied with the idea “.
Even if it took some time to faceless name to materialize, Shahid would not have done it any other way.
Stories and songs
The name of the project – Sounds of Kites – comes from a memory 32-year-old Shahid had of his adolescence, when he saw a man successfully fly a kite in a park surrounded by towering trees.
“This is the park,” he said, pointing outside the restaurant we were in, across the SS14.
Memories appear to be important to Shahid and play a vital role in the underlying concept faceless name.
The album cover is a photo taken by Shahid’s wife, and the photos inside – behind the cover and in the lyric book – were taken during her travels.
In the center of the CD cover are two images of a drag queen in Bangkok. Their eyes, digitally scratched.
“It’s a name, without a face. The album revolves around the people I met and when I look at the photos, I know the memory that accompanies it, but I don’t really know their history. Like the drag queen “.
In the new album, Shahid incorporates more samples than on his first album.
“I grew up listening to a lot of post-rock, like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Sigur Rós. They would have implemented all these samples in their songs and I always wanted to have an album with samples, ”he says.
The sample that stands out the most is on “Ipoh / Infinity”, by a cendol seller, which was also a memory.
“When I played Infinity, it seemed like something was missing. So, I browsed through my phone, because I like to walk around and turn on my audio recording, to record what I can ”.
“There was a time when I went to Ipoh and while I was walking down a street, an aunt was selling cendol. She sounded good, so I cut it, put it in a loop and matched it (to the original song). “
all in all, faceless name marks a departure from Shahid’s second debut. Much more thought, effort and character were injected into the album.
“He wasn’t aware that my second album sounded different from the first. But I would say that over the years I have realized that I should have paid more attention to singing rather than playing the guitar ”.
Noting how short the lyrics on the first album were, how little he sang and how much more focused he was on playing the guitar, Shahid did the exact opposite for faceless name.
“I’d like to think that I managed to do it, even if I’m not the best yet. We are still working to improve ”.
Although nothing is set in stone at the moment, Shahid is planning a tour to Ipoh, Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Singapore from mid-September to October, and will play a show at Merdekarya tonight, August 4th.
faceless name is available for purchase through soundofkites.com, with the album also available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube.