entertainment

Meet The Singer-Songwriter Turning Heads In The Malaysian Music Industry

From busking to performing centre stage, Brendan de Cruz has mentored under Yuna and been featured on James Taylor's Instagram page.

Cover image via @kedaifotogasper (Instagram) & @mxhshoots (Instagram)

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Meet Brendan de Cruz.

He is a Malaysian musician who has been writing and performing music since 2016 and has released four records thus far.

Working as a professional musician for the past six years, Brendan accounts of his earliest performances up to 13 years ago. 

Initially performing at corporate events and weddings, a visit to an intimate bar changed the trajectory of his career forever. 

"I came across a venue a few years ago, called Merdekarya. They advocate for local art. I had an open-mic session scheduled, so I went in and played covers of other songs," he shared with this SAYS writer during an hour-long video call from his studio.

After playing just two songs, the owner of the venue asked if he had any of his own material, and to play it the next time he came back. Brendan did exactly that, and was encouraged to bring more of his own songs to the music joint when he returned once more.

He kept writing, and kept performing. As word of the venue got around, and Brendan's talent was highlighted on stage frequently, he fell in love with the place and what it stood for.

"I eventually decided to give it a try. I wrote a couple of songs and fine-tuned them." Soon after, Brendan produced his first extended play record (EP) titled Even So. With an overwhelmingly positive response, Brendan knew he had something worth pursuing full-time.

Describing himself as a quiet individual, Brendan shared that the ordeal of singing around people was very "embarrassing" initially. "But the more it happened, the more [comfortable I got]".

The 33-year-old's acclaim to musical prowess came from his humble beginnings, more specifically, his own father.

"Dad was a journalist and editor by trade, but he also had a country band," he told SAYS. As a child, he frequented the venues the band performed at.

It was not until Brendan started singing one day, did his father see his true potential and capability.

"My brother used to play the guitar. One day, he was playing Green Day's Good Riddance. I sang over it. My dad overheard me and came over to tell me to sing it again. He acknowledged my vocals, but didn't say much after that."

Nearly every single family event after that moment (where a guitar was present), his father would ask him to sing. Brendan described being embarrassed by it, due to his quiet nature when he was a child.

Little did he know, his father's encouragement would help him feel more comfortable performing in front of groups of people.

The creative process is not an easy one, as Brendan digs from his most personal experiences to create his music

Considering his music to be in the genre of Alternative Folk/Pop, Brendan notes that his creation process begins with writing lyrics, then tweaking it as time goes on.

"Every song is catered around an overwhelming period of time in my life," said Brendan. "I do tap into my emotions to write my music. I do my best to get into a mindset of complete vulnerability, not being afraid to express my art."

When asked on the personal and emotional implications of his process, Brendan revealed that his emotions and personal experiences encourage him to create his art. "I understand my emotions a lot better now. Your perspective changes with time."

"I think so many more opportunities can be created. If you want to see the change, you have to be the change."

Describing his favourite part of being a musician, Brendan attests that he is still in awe of the recognition he receives, despite having thousands of followers on Instagram to date!

"I am in disbelief that people are listening. Having people respond positively or talk to you after they find your music is incredible," he described to SAYS.

In spite of that, Brendan is a strong supporter of providing a voice to local artists that have not made it big yet.

"I've received lots of support over the years. But my least favourite thing about being an independent musician is the amount of potential not being showcased in the industry."

Believing in the power of the music industry and people alike, Brendan openly advocates for lesser known musicians to be showcased more often.

From being selected by Yuna for a mentorship project to having Zee Avi support his work, you'll never believe who else has been tuning into Brendan's music

In 2020, Brendan was hand-picked by Yuna, Malaysian singer-songwriter and BET Award nominee, for a mentoring project in coordination with Hewlett Packard (HP). He also connected with songstress Zee Avi when he performed a Bob Marley tribute. 

The highlight of these star-studded recognitions, however, come in the form of the multi Grammy award-winning American musician, James Taylor. 

"The biggest one so far would have to be James Taylor's Instagram account reposting a video of me covering his song (Sweet Baby James) on his feed". 

Garnering rave reviews, Brendan's feature by the global sensation swept him off his feet, declaring his talents to an international audience.  

Orchestrating his first ever concert, you won't want to miss Brendan's most ambitious work yet

Titled Love.Life.Music, Brendan revealed that his first concert centres around what his music stands for. 

Premiering tomorrow, 12 March 2022, at PJ PAC in Bandar Utama, the two-and-a-half-hour production promises reimagined versions of Brendan's released singles. 

With the show including a spectacular audio and visual journey of evolving musical styles, and with over 13 musicians and creatives involved, this concert will give you a glimpse into the world-class artistic talent Malaysia has to offer.

Encouraging all new musicians and artists out there, Brendan had these words to say to anyone trying to pursue a career in music:

Follow your gut, and surround yourself with people who will support you and your dreams.
Brendan de Cruz

From shoutouts by global phenomenons to curating his first independent concert, rest assured, this musicians career is just beginning.

Get your tickets for Brendan's concert (happening TOMORROW!) here

To find more of Brendan's music, check out his Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube channels!

And lastly, to keep up with all the upcoming projects he has in store, follow the Malaysian songbird on Instagram and Facebook.

Check out Brendan's latest music video on YouTube:

This feature is part of the #saysplaylist series, providing your playlist with a breath of fresh Malaysian air

Image via Pixabay/SAYS

If you have any Malaysian bands, singers, or songs that you think we should feature, drop us a message at [email protected]

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