This Malaysian Producer Recorded An 11-Song Album Right Out Of His Sofa
31-year-old Darren Ashley, hailed as Kuala Lumpur's "electropop prince", has made a name for himself since his days in Malaysian band Busco
Raised in Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak, and Thailand, Darren was exposed to different cultures and music growing up – which helped develop his taste in music.
"We never stayed in one place for long," the singer told Poskod, before adding that his love for music bloomed during his schooling years in Thailand.
Growing up multitalented, Darren sings and plays the keyboard, drums, and guitar!
Defying a norm of letting a professional polish his music, Darren's latest album, 'How Did I Get Here?' was recorded, mixed, and mastered by him in his own home – which is an unorthodox move
"I used to work in a studio, and everything is really nice in a studio," the music composer told SAYS in a recent interview.
"But I decided, if I really want to know how to do this, I really have to do it by myself," he added.
Darren decided to set up his own 'recording booth' at home with his sofa
"I have an IKEA couch that opens up," he told SAYS, before describing his mini booth.
"I put a blanket over it, I put some pillows inside, stuck my mic inside, and I sat down on the floor to record my vocals," the producer added.
The 31-year-old also went through a gruelling process to perfect his album
"I was testing (the album) with my studio speakers, car, laptop speakers, home speakers, and my headphones," he said.
Darren then recounted how he went back and forth from his Myvi.
"I'll go to my car with a USB loaded with my whole album and drive while listening to it... I would write mental notes, go home and fix (the problems)," he said.
"I would get heartbroken like, 'oh my God it sounds so bad', and go back to the drawing board," he added.
The composer's experience in creating the album peaked with his seven-minute long final song, 'Rescue/Refuge'
"Something would always get in the way whenever I built myself up to record this song... like construction downstairs, or a really rough text from someone," Darren said, before adding that the incidents motivated him to work twice as hard to record the track.
The producer then expressed his surprise at the number of people who resonated with 'Rescue/Refuge'.
"Someone texted me saying that he cried to this song. More than five people have texted me. Who would think that a seven-minute song would be the one that everyone gravitates to?" he said.
The 'How Did I Get Here?' album is Darren's way of picking himself up from a dark place, and hopefully others in a similar situation
The producer wanted his music to help somebody else through dark times.
"If I only wrote what I was feeling, how is it going to help somebody else? They'll be like, 'yes, I relate to it', now what?" Darren said.
"So it's about like, 'hey, you feel this way, but you can pick yourself up'," he added.
The producer also explained the reason behind the name 'How Did I Get Here?'.
"It’s about the circles that we run round and round in our heads with our fears and insecurities that keep us from showing our deepest most vibrant colours and wasting tons of time in the process," he said.
Catch Darren live alongside indie band Jumero on Thursday, 18 April
This feature is part of the #saysplaylist series, providing your playlist with a breath of fresh Malaysian air.
If you have any Malaysian bands, singers or songs that you think we should feature, let us know in the comments below!