The highly-anticipated Good Vibes Festival (GVF) 2018 is happening this 21st to 22nd July, and we’re more than pumped to see what’s probably one of the festival’s best line-ups yet!
Performing at GVF alongside international headliners, Lorde, SZA, Alt-J, and The Neighbourhood, is none other than local experimental act, Pastel Lite.
Pastel Lite, made up of Eff Hakim and Mohd Faliq, is definitely not your average local act, and has had their fair share of struggles in the industry. We sat down with the duo to find out a little more about their journey as a band and how they’re paving the way for future artists in the Malaysian music scene.
How did you first get started as Pastel Lite? Tell us your origin story!
It started when Faliq discovered me on Soundcloud. He was looking for people to produce at the time and I was looking for band mates.
We actually wanted to be in a singer/songwriter-producer relationship but as we got into making songs, we realised we had a lot of chemistry while jamming together and we thought, “Why not make a duo band?”, and decided to wing it from there!
As for our name, I (Eff) thought that we could have a name that would match that feel but also something that sounds electronic. “Pastel” matched that softness, and the word “lite” also matched that electronic feel, so it became Pastel Lite!
What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve faced as a band so far? Any stories of rejection?
[Eff and Faliq both laugh] We’ve faced rejection both from the outside and the inside.
When we first started out, we were considered “weird” because not a lot of Malaysian artists were doing what we were doing at the time. A lot of people didn’t understand us and assumed we were a bunch of kids who didn’t know what we were doing.
For us, it’s more about how we feel about ourselves because we don’t think we’re up to par with our idols. But, as we’ve matured, we’re getting better at dealing with these feelings. What we do now is just shut the negative voices out and focus on the positive stuff.
Our parents were a little apprehensive of us starting music, mostly because they were afraid that we might not earn enough money and be homeless, but they started coming around when we got signed to Yuna Room Records.
Balada is your debut album and took 2 years to make. What was the whole experience of making the album like?
There were actually a lot of issues we encountered, like during the first year, my dad (Eff’s) passed away so I was very depressed and had to deal with that.
Then, as we progressed, we found a space to record but our studio burnt down. Initially, we thought the fire was a sign that we should quit, but then, one day we got an e-mail saying that we were being considered as opening acts for Tame Impala – we had no idea we were actually going to be picked to open for them!
We got really good feedback about the new songs we debuted during our set as the opening act, so we decided not to quit. Then after the show, we actually had offers from a number of labels and decided to sign under Yuna Room Records.
Pastel Lite also used to have a more heavy, industrial sound, but in Balada, your sound is more soft and romantic. Was that change intentional?
We didn’t know why it ended up sounding the way it does! I guess it was just us maturing as a band (naturally).
For our EP, ETCETERA, our surroundings weren’t depressing, but we wanted to make our music very angsty. Then with Balada, we were in a sad place and wanted to make songs to cheer ourselves up. We also wanted to pay respect to my late father so we included some nostalgic sounds from the ’70s as a tribute to him.
How has the general response been to your music among Malaysians?
It was better than we expected! There were a lot of good reviews, and we were surprised, but were very happy people loved it. We put all of our love and effort into Balada and wanted our music to come from the heart, so the fact that other people liked it was even better.
What’s the best and worst thing about being local musicians in your opinion?
One pro is that our industry is so small, but that’s great cause everyone is so close-knit and it’s like a little community, especially in the local indie scene. Everyone’s super supportive.
However, the con is that because the local indie industry is so small, we’re still the minority compared to the mass pop market, so there’s issues with funding and not a lot of us get recognition. We’re also not as accessible to the masses, so that’s another issue.
It would be great for everyone to keep going to local shows and show their support, and our local indie scene will flourish more.
You have also opened for big international acts like Tame Impala and The xx. You even performed in a number of different shows (i.e. music festivals, concerts, and intimate gigs). What’s your favourite type of gig?
Definitely music festivals.
Laneway in Singapore was definitely a standout experience for us because it felt like a reality TV show. We saw St. Vincent having breakfast at the hotel we were at, and we also saw Mac DeMarco chilling in a swimming pool. We even met FKA Twigs and Angus and Julia Stone… it was so weird, but a good kind of weird!
We love festivals, but honestly we really like playing anywhere. Even if it’s just one person in the audience enjoying our music, that still makes us happy!
So, you must be pretty excited about the next music festival you’re performing at – Good Vibes (GVF). What are you most looking forward to for this year’s GVF?
Lorde. Definitely Lorde and SZA.
Apart from the performers, we mostly look forward to having a great time ourselves because we get too stressed and technical about things when it comes to prepping for a show. So, it would be nice to stop worrying so much!
If you get the chance to collaborate with any artist on Earth for a new song, but you can only choose one, who would you pick?
Faliq: Damon Albarn (from Gorillaz and Blur) because of his interesting experimentation techniques. From one record to another, he makes everything with so much ambition, and it’s a hard balancing act – to be able to sound good and be experimental.
Eff: Lana Del Rey because she’s a female producer I really look up to. I’ve seen some of her work and she’s really in control of what she does with her songs, and I’d love to see her at work in a studio.
What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone told you when you first started out as musicians?
Nothing is worth your health and happiness, even if it’s your career.
We know putting everything into your work 24/7 is effective, but there’s nothing wrong with taking your time on something and relaxing. You shouldn’t feel bitter if you haven’t succeeded yet or if something goes wrong with your plan.
All that pent-up frustration and aggression from stuff like that can make you sick, and you can burn out and that’s the worst feeling ever. Take things slow, be calm. Success is very subjective, so it’s important to keep things like that in check.
Pastel Lite will be performing on day 1 of GVF 2018 (21st July), so if you’re interested to catch them live, be sure to get your tickets on the festival’s official website here!
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