ICYMI: Simon Webbe talks about recording 'Casino Royale' with Malaysian DJs BATE and more
BURO. HANGOUTS LIVE
Throughout April and May, we'll be curating a series of IG Live sessions on @buromalaysia with tastemakers, influencers and rightful experts in various industries.
Our purpose: To make staying at home, isolation and social distancing just a bit easier, as well as connecting all Malaysians riding out the current C/MCO. We'll share meaningful—and important—conversations and entertain with creative challenges.
Missed the episode with Simon Webbe? Fret not cos you can watch it now on our IGTV. We've also transcribed some of the key questions he answered below.
What is the song Casino Royale all about?
"Well, Casino Royale is basically based on a fictional character called James Bond. He’s a Secret Service agent from the UK, coming over to Malaysia because he has been hired to retrieve a case—I don't know what the contents are. Apparently, I’m like that smooth criminal type. But one of the best things for me about this whole thing was being able to go somewhere in Southeast Asia and paying homage to all the fans and saying thank you. I don’t think there are a lot of Westerners going over to Southeast Asia—or Asia, at all—to do their music videos so it was great for me to be involved and see exactly how things work in Malaysia, and I was very, very, very impressed. It was probably THE best shoot I’ve done."
Is it true that you first heard a snippet of this song by BATE, loved it and went into the studio the very next day to record it?
"Yes, I was with Blue and we came to Malaysia to do a show—thank you to everyone who came to that, by the way. We went to the afterparty and BATE’s manager, Casey played the song for me with his phone and imagine, this was with the club's speakers at full blast. He was like, "Listen to this!" I heard it and well, when I hear something I like, I do it. Casey went, "F'real?" and I simply replied, "Yes, let's do this.""
But you recorded it on the day of your flight back, right?
"Yes! I was in the club until about 3 am, and then I was in the studio that same day from about 1 pm till 5 pm. And then, I had to go to the airport to fly that evening. SO within 24 hours, I met the boys, recorded it then flew home."
Weren't you nervous about catching your flight?
"Nah, the track was more important than my flight."
Speaking of the BATE boys, what was it like working with them?
"It was so cool. I mean, when I was 21 or 22, I came up with All Rise, Fly By and One Love, to name a few—so that's what I was hearing. To hear another generation’s perspective of music and hearing where they’re coming from, I just felt privileged to be a part of it. Music doesn't have an age. Obviously, it has a following—but I just think that this is a track that can be played 10 years from now and it’ll still feel relevant. That’s what I felt and I felt the energy from the boys too! I love that they were DJs but on the side, they had regular jobs and they were trying to make something of themselves, following their passion. When I see people doing that–and I was lucky enough to follow my passions and be successful with it–I just wanted to pay homage to that wherever I could. I said just use my vocals and let’s do this, cause I love the track."
Moving on, were there any funny stories or moments that happened on the set of the music video shoot?
"Yes, the lady who was playing the gangster? She scared me. Like, in real life. Until she smiled (laughs). It was really hard for me to act. I have so much respect for my elders as well but she literally scared me. And then, she started laughing at me and it broke me out of character. I was very nervous to meet her but I've definitely learnt a lot of stuff from her."
And what was your favourite part of the music video?
"Probably the action scenes–there’s not one part of the video that I didn’t like shooting though. It was very impressive the way it all came together—working with the stuntmen, shuffling around, smashing a chair! During the rehearsal, the chair fell apart and everyone was looking at me so I was like, "Oh, man! I’ll just keep my hands off stuff." It was such a fun full-on two-day shoot. I got to see Malaysia from a new height I’ve never seen it from before and that was one of my favourite moments. In the video, you can see the skyline, the Aston Martin pulling up right at the hotel, the way I looked and the way I felt—it was great!"
It was basically a short James bond film!
"Exactly! I was the first black James Bond. If anybody asks, it was me! (laughs)"
Most people were voting for Idris Elba, but you’ve already done it!
"I’ve done it, man! Listen, that’s old news. If you look back into a Blue video, Curtain Falls, there’s a newspaper article and it says Simon Webb is James Bond. So I thought about it from all the way back then."
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