7 Minutes with experimental synth-pop duo Pastel Lite
Pastel Lite has "it"—you know, that special something that sets a band apart from the pack. In the Malaysian synth-pop duo's case, its their unique sound of electronic melodies topped with distinctive vocals that reels listeners in.
Comprised of Eff Hakim and Mohd Faliq, Pastel Lite has been making waves in the local music scene since they started out in 2012, performing regularly locally as well as opening for some of the biggest international acts that have descended KL in recent years, including Tame Impala and The XX. But the road here hasn't been easy—a series of unfortunate events (as you'll learn in the interview below) almost led to a disbandment, but the duo ultimately pulled through and released their first full-length album Balada last year.
Coming up, Pastel Lite is set to perform at the upcoming Good Vibes Festival in July. Before you catch them live, find out a little more about the band's journey from our chat with them here:
You guys have quite a distinctive voice and sound. How did you arrive at this identity?
"To be perfectly honest, how we came to sounding the way we do now is a happy accident. We blindly experimented with lots of different ways until we are met with what works for us."
Do you think your sound has evolved or changed since you first started out?
"We think so. But our sound kind of went a full circle. Aesthetically and concept wise, we find that we are going back to how we first started, which is back to just making music that we want to hear without thinking too much about what the world wants."
Who are you guys inspired by musically?
"Air, Broadcast, The Strokes, Phoenix, Tame Impala, The Carpenters, Abba, Electric Light Orchestra, The Beatles, Toro Y Moi, Nancy Sinatra, Uji Rashid, Francesca Peters, Sudirman, just to name a few."
Being a duo, what is your songwriting process like?
"Our songwriting process varies from time to time. Initially we would just go to our studio, jam a few songs and see whatever happens. But there are times where we would write separately and the other person would just continue with the song. It truly is a collaborative effort on both sides as each of us needs to understand each other's ideas in order to carry on with it. In which case, it takes a lot of discussion and heart to heart conversations in order to get each other on the same page regarding a song."
In your opinion, what makes a good track?
"Honest lyrics, groovy beats, lush synth, fuzzy jangly-ish melodic guitars and a great use of minimal spaces in between all the elements make a good track—like the tracks on our album "Balada" for example (laughs)."
You've performed quite a lot over the last few years, and opened for some pretty big names too. What has been your most memorable gig by far?
"We still think opening for Tame Impala was a big deal to us. Not solely because of the fact that Kevin Parker was one of the many amazing artists that we've been looking up to throughout our entire career, but because of the ordeal we've gone through up until that very show. You see, prior to the concert, we were going through so much personally and professionally; Eff's father passed away, our studio burnt down, we were planning to quit the band due to "problems", etc. The moment we were invited to play the show, we could barely believed it. We actually decided to use the opportunity to test the water with our unreleased demos, and to perhaps make this Tame Impala concert our last show ever before making the announcement that Pastel Lite was no longer.
But when we played the show, weirdly enough there was this strange energy and we felt really great about ourselves, and we haven't felt that way in so long. Then it was suddenly clear to us—from then on we decided that we could give this band another shot. Which eventually led to the releasing of our debut album Balada a year later."
What is the best thing about being a musician in this day and age?
"We think the best thing about being a musician in this day and age is having this artistic means of expressing yourself. Yes, it's the internet era where everyone can easily make a statement and post it online, but something about being in a studio, composing a song from scratch, recording it, tweaking it to perfection and really taking your time on your musical craft just puts more value into your expression. Not to say there is anything wrong with any other medium, but we came to truly appreciate what we do as musicians when it comes to telling the world how you feel via music at this day and age.”
Finally, what can we expect from your set at Good Vibes?
“You could expect us there just wanting to have a great time and doing our best to share the energy with the likes of you!”
Stay tuned for more Good Vibes Festival artist features.
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