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Making Waves from the City to Nature with Nazarud

Shaheed Naz started his musical journey as one half of Kuala Lumpur’s pioneering nu-disco act DANGERDISKO has currently diversified his craft into various genres of electronic music as NAZARUD.
Rimka Sandhu

Rimka Sandhu

A psychology graduate with a love for all things music and fashion

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Far from the nu disco, 80’s new wave, indie dance & house music sound comes a new blend of exotic instruments present in his tracks; setting a mystical melodic journey for his listeners. While it seems like he has done what every local producer dreams of during his DANGERDISKO days; from collaborating with Malaysia’s legendary queen of Jazz, Dato’ Sheila Majid to having 2 hit singles on Hitz.fm’s charts to touring countries like North America, Hong Kong, Australia, Indonesia and playing major festivals like Wonderfruit, It’s The Ship and Future Music Festival Asia it seems like this is just the tip of the iceberg of what he is capable of. In 2012, NAZARUD formed a collective called Beatmilitia which was an initiative to provide a stage for the local underground DJ’s and Producers to shine through their series of shows. With him presently focusing on his solid Melodic Techno releases, we can’t hardly wait to dance to them on club sound systems, till then let’s get to know NAZARUD’s journey to where he’s currently at a little more…

I read somewhere that your journey for DANGERDISKO started in a dusty bedroom studio in Subang Jaya, tell us what was before that? How did your love story with music and production start? 

I was always a fan of electronic music from as far as I can remember. Back in the early 2000s, I had a cousin who was based in London and whenever I went to visit her, I would always take the opportunity to buy the latest electronic records and CDs. Back then access to these music were hard to come by, so a lot of these music were only accessible overseas. I dabbled a little bit with production and started doing electronic tracks of my own; anything from techno, trance, breakbeat, jungle to liquid dnb. Before the conception of DANGERDISKO, I already had enough songs for an album and when I finally met Farez, we dabbled into 2 step garage and liquid DnB. This was way back in 2004-2005, and a couple of years later, we heard about this whole 80s retro revivalist movement that was happening in Paris and we were intrigued. We followed a few acts and blogs closely and started bringing this new and fresh sound to KL. The rest is history.

How did DANGERDISKO break into Malaysia’s mainstream music market with a not so mainstream genre like nu-disco? 

To be honest, it was very accidental. We never specifically plan to break into the mainstream scene. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t think we ever did. When we first started out, we were limited to only playing at gay clubs. This was because at the time, the KL nightlife scene was divide into two factions: super progressive house or techno scene or the hip hop scene. In the early 2000s, disco was pretty much non existant in KL. But because of this, we started gaining a following amongst the gay/queer community and it started opening doors to opportunities. We started getting booked for bigger and better residencies and shows. Once we started releasing our tracks and remixes, there was an audience for it. We started remixing exclusively Malaysian tracks, because we realised there was a niche of communities that were hungry for local music on the dancefloors, and there was none. From that niche following, it grew into a mainstream popularity. We didn’t really knew what to do with it, but we tried using it to highlight more local music in the dance music scene. The beauty of nu disco is that it is still considered a niche electronic music, however it uses all the best facets of popular music in the construction of its songs. Funky hooks, catchy melodies and bopping rhythms. All and all the perfect recipe for a good pop song. I think that is why it is easily consumed by the masses.

You’ve done tours in countries like North America, Hong Kong, Australia and Indonesia, which was the most memorable country for you and why? 

I enjoy all of them frankly, but we really had a lot of fun in Melbourne, Australia. This might be due to the large and very supportive Asian community there, we felt really welcomed and at ease. When we did shows in the States, there were times when we really had to work harder than the rest of the lineup, simply because we were just a bunch of tiny Asians from South East Asia, so no one made it easy for us. In a lot of Western countries and frankly, most of the electronic music industry; discrimination against South East Asians is very real and prevalent- it creates this extra obstacle for us to overcome. However, we are happy that our music speaks for itself and we are proud to be among the few South-East Asian artists that were given the opportunity to showcase our music on an international scale and platform.

 

Being a DJ, producer, collective head honcho for Beatmilitia and musical director, which role do you enjoy playing the most? 

As a true appreciator of electronic music, I enjoy them all really. But I see myself enjoying production a bit more than everything else. I love being behind the scenes; being able to manipulate and create sounds and have the power to do live performances with original music and sounds. That is my bread and butter.

Why the name Beatmilitia and what does it mean to you? 

Beatmilitia is not just a collective, it is also like a playgroud for other collectives of DJs to join in and unite among each other. Some would say that we are a movement,which is why we are called Beatmilitia. “Beat” representing music and “Militia” represent an army of music lovers. 

With the current pandemic do you have any upcoming plans for Beatmilitia? 

Currently, we are active with our Beatmilitia Frequency bi-monthly Radio show on Fridays. There are other plans for future events and activities, so keep yourself posted by following our Instagram at Beatmilitia

The solid producer that you are, is there another producer’s work that you look up to and admire in the production space? 

I dare not say im a solid producer, but rather am a student of sound. To be completely honest my all-time producer idol is Trentemoller. I am in constant awe of how he produces his tracks. 

Do you enjoy remixing a tune or producing from scratch more and why? 

I would prefer to produce from scratch. It allows me to feel and express my emotions the way I want, freely. It is like taking a journey into an adventure. But remixes poses a different set of challenges for me as a producer, as we are required to repurpose and reroute an already familiar track and add our own personal touches. 

Which do you enjoy producing more, Nu Disco or Melodic Techno?

Frankly speaking, it depends on my general mood. At present, I am based off KL and am surrounded by nature, which inspires me constantly with the organic sounds of nature like the sounds of birds, water flowing and more.

What are the 5 production tools you can’t live without? 

  • DAW (Ableton Live) 
  • Fairchild 660 and 670
  • U-He Diva
  • Ozone 9
  • Kramer Tape

What is your record for the fastest track you’ve ever made that did end up getting released? 

A single I released under MyConnected back in 2020 called Larut. The track was produced within a 3 day time frame (Day 1: production, Day 2: mixing and Day 3: mastering).

But if you want the fastest track being produced, that would be our Sheila Majid – Sinaran bootleg remix. That track was produced and completed in within 5 hours. Me and Farez were having a gig that night and that morning Farez came by to hang at my house but then we were bored and suddenly Farez came up with an idea to remix Sinaran. Within that 5 hours before our gig, we fully completed the remix. The best part is was when it was recognised by one of Sheila Majid’s stylist, Che Lek, and later he told Sheila Majid personally about it, which opened an opportunity for us to remake the song officially with the legend herself. 

Producers sometimes find it hard to put a stop to tweaking their track and too much tweaking and editing actually ruins the track, how do you prevent this from happening to you or when do you know it’s time to put a full stop and finally finish the track? 

This is certainly true and I used to have that problem too. After inquiring with other professional producers I realised it all leads to one major issue: Time Management. When you set a schedule to complete a track, you’ll be more focused on the creation part of music production and less “over-tweaking”. Also, it is best to take a break between sessions as ear fatigue do occur after hours of hearing loud and repetitive sounds.

What production tips could you give our readers that you wish you knew sooner? 

So this is how I apply it in my music production routine. 

  1. Plan your track.
  2. Use a reference track to give you an idea of your music arrangements.
  3. Set a time limit (eg. 4 hours of sound design, 7 hours of music arrangement etc.)

If for one day you could have your dream 

  1. collaboration for a track who would it be with?
    Trentemoller or/and Mark Tarmonea
  2. B2B set who would it be with?
    Lunar Plane
  3. Gig where would it be?
    Istanbul, Turkey


You recently got into farming, tell us how that has been juggling farming and music, do you have a game plan for once nightlife opens up again?

Ever since I ventured into the agriculture industry I have had more time to produce music. Also due to the environment where im at; being surrounded by trees and rivers, I have felt so much more inspired and this has led me to create more ideas in my musical arrangements. 

As for my Nazarud project,  I’m in the midst of arranging a an hour live set of my own produced track. Hopefully, this will translate into a more surreal musical experience. As for DANGERDISKO, we are currently in the midst of producing our sophomore album – it will be another conceptual album, with each song representing a chapter in a story.

For now, with no live shows being available in the region, I am shifting all my focus into my productions and hopefully, when things start opening up again, we’ll have a plethora of original tracks to perform for our listeners. 

More About Nazarud

Soundcloud | Mixcloud | Facebook | Beatmilitia

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