2:20 pm - Thursday June 22, 2017

Exclusive Interview with Deftman – The Tamil Reggae Artist

Interviewed by Bliss MyTamilChannel writer

When it comes to musical diversity, the Tamil local scene is to lookout for. Recently, No Name Recordz artist, Deftman, released his first single Rakayee of his yet-to-be-named reggae album. The song created waves for its uniqueness and was played in both Radio Mirchi Chennai and THR Raaga. The song has received accolades for its combination of Tamil folk music and Deftman’s unique reggae sound. Thus, it is only apt to say that Deftman and his team has excelled in localizing reggae to suit the demands of the local scene. Therefore, I could not resist to get hold of Deftman to know what is going on with him and No Name Recordz. Hence, MyTamilChannel brings you an exclusive interview with Deftman, the Tamil Reggae artist.

MTC: How do you define your music?

There is this big misconception that the music I do is related to hip hop or rap. For the record, the genre of music which I do is classified as reggae and reggae music has always been said and proven as soul music. Thus, the way I define my music is a mirror of my soul and experience.

MTC: When you first started your career as a musician, you were with a group called Tribe 3 and you were in a couple of talent shows on national TV (which shows were they), how did that expose your music career?

My debut show and also the turning point in both my life and musical journey is Astro’s Blast Off Season 2. During that time, this talent show was the biggest event for independent urban artists, such as me, in Malaysia. Back then, I was a rapper and represented hip hop. I can also vouch that during this time, the glory of hip hop was at its peak as I rubbed shoulders with great people like Tactmatic (Rapsody), MC Plug (Xyphaz), Young Ruff (back then known as Big K of Reffugeez), Naqib and Sayla (3 Flow), Kamal (40G), Wan Dee and Big Leeps (Colabr8). In today’s hip hop scene, all the people I mentioned are the movers and shakers, may it be in Tamil, Malay or English.

In Blast Off 2, I felt the pressure to perform as the format was competition-based and everyone was equally talented and diverse. This show exposed me about modelling, particularly for photo shoots. This is where I realized the importance of camera angles and movement. Technically, I improved my voice projection on the microphone and the way I deliver my songs.

The second show which I was involved is TV3’s GangStarz Season 1. Prior to this show, I had recorded my first singles and it is safe to say that I have much experience under my belt through Blast Off. Yet this experience was totally different from Astro’s Blast Off 2. The scene and crowed was more Malay-dominant and my group had renamed ourselves as Demolition Squad. In this show, we came across people like Cat Farish, my sifu, Faizal Tahir, Ning Baizura and many more. Besides, TV3 had a more different approach to reality shows and the press meeting, dance lessons and asking for sponsors was something which I really learnt. The fact that artist need to be the perfect package was a lesson learnt here.

MTC: What happened to Tribe 3 and what were you doing after that?

Tribe 3 basically came to an end after Mc Bullet, Krayzie-D and I came to conclusion to go separate ways as our interest started to change. I won’t lie to say it was sweet and simple, it was rather bad yet we had to come to an understanding that at that very moment it was the best. However, now we are all cool, we talk to each other, saying hi and stuff and at times, reminiscing the good times.

After the closure of Tribe 3, I gave up music altogether and hip hop for real. I didn’t want to do it anymore and also the scene at that time exploded with so many rappers coming to the game. So, I stopped, paused and decided to just let go.

MTC: How did you came across Sai Prashanth and what made you to work with him?

It was through a crazy bus ride to Johor Bahru by a friend who asked me for a favour to do a recording for his friend, which is Sai Prashanth. I can’t exactly remember the exact date but it was work related to Sai Prashanth’s first album Wonders. My friend who worked on the music for Sai Prashanth was quite talented and asked me to drop some Dancehall type raga. Although by then, I had given up music but I just went with the flow and through God’s wish – the music was beautiful and the album was a success. I regained my love to music and I believe I want to continue this musical journey with Sai Prashanth.

MTC: Apart from singing, do you play any musical instruments? Do you write your own songs?

I learnt to play the organ when Michael Jackson was still alive! Well, that was both the start and the end I can say. As for song writing, I write my own songs and I will try my level best when I have no inspirations to write. Like I have mentioned before, my music is a mirror of my experience, thus I will always portray myself in my music. I have to say I was quite amateur with my choice of words and content, but these days, it is getting much better as I am relating both my influences and experience in my songs.

MTC: Who and what inspires you to write?

Bob Marley, the guru of all reggae artists around the world. His work and wisdom has not only enriched his community but to those who follow is work. Without a doubt, Bob Marley is my greatest inspiration, his say in life and the messages in his songs are deep. I find many truths in his songs; these are the fuel to my own creation.

When Bob Marley wrote his music, he incorporated his experience and his soul in it. Something which I have been trying to do lately as I am getting older, my wisdom also grows, I am not the same Deftman you met in GangStarz or Astro Blast Off 2. These days, I try my best to incorporate my own life experience in my music, which I hope will inspire the listeners.

MTC: What is your process (of making music)?

My music is very much like baking! We know the raw ingredients like tempo, beat, key, scale, bars, pitch, kick, snare, high hats, and many other technical music parts but my process of music is more of feel, sense, power, emotion and soul. These are like the air trapped to the risen dough to bake, when baking we don’t know what to expect as the end product can range from bread to soft biscuit. So, my process of putting the soul into my music clearly ends with a product that is a reflection of me. Many have asked me how do I do this or write this! My answer is and always has been ‘I don’t know, it just comes to me’, so maybe this answers this question the best.

MTC: Who are your influences?

People around me are my influence in my work, everyone. Ranging from those who I am not keen and to those who are not keen with me.

MTC: Your single Nalla Nearam achieved considerable success. It was both honest and stimulating. What do you try to convey to your listeners with your songs?

My music is simple and easy to listen to, I want people to understand me and not get twisted in my words. This has been my theme and motto from the first day I started my music career into Reggae. I have always addressed of being real and talking the truth all the time from my perspective, but these days I convey good messages in my music and encourage many to do such.

MTC: Reggae artists are known to have strong spiritual beliefs. What about you, does your spirituality plays a large role in your music. And why?

’Lyrics are mantra and Music is Jah(God)’ this is my mantra and it is the mantra for any musician, artist and music lover. I am a Saivaite Hindu by birth and I am very spiritually connected, I believe that my gift and my music journey is chosen and given to me by Jah (God). As I learnt the Rastafarian culture and way of life, I can see many similarities and qualities with the Saivaite Hindu faith. So, I feel attached to reggae as this is my true calling to me to convey the message of Love to my beloved community and world.

MTC: What are you working on now?

I am currently working on my full Tamil Reggae album with No Name Recordz.

MTC: When do you expect to have your album out?

I do have a date but just for a fact that I am spiritual qualifies me as superstitious, so not to jinx it. You have to wait and see. Nonetheless, I promise it is coming in your way real soon.

MTC: What is your biggest musical accomplishment so far and why?

I can only say that I have yet to accomplish my biggest music dream. Maybe, I will be able to answer this question after my music album has been released.

MTC: Are there any other artists that you would like to collaborate with in the future?

Ultimately, the reggae artist that i would love to work with is Damien Marley, yet being realistic, i would love to do a Hindi-Thamizh duet Reggae with Shreya Ghoshal or a full Malay Reggae track with my sifu Cat Farish.

MTC: What can we expect to hear from you in 2012 or 2013?

The birth of Rasta-Mizhan, not just as an artist rather as a revolutionary medium (in a music sense) that promotes Reggae music among my fellow Malaysian Thamizhans. I also expect that my album is most likely the first full Thamizh Reggae album in Malaysia and the world.

MTC: As both a reggae artist and a local act, what advice would you give to someone that wants to get into the music industry?

Please know what you want to do, how to do and what you can and can’t do! Music is an ocean of knowledge, don’t get carried away with fame, leave a message to the world and legacy for others to follow.

MTC: What is your view on the local music scene?

I honestly feel it is not doing good coupled with so many bad influences by many popular artists. The messages they feed to the community and our little brothers and sisters saddens me. In the name of commercial music they lose their ethics and morale in music. The term of ‘anyone can sing, rap, record a single and album’ must be reviewed. I am not saying only a select few should do music. If such I would not be able to do music myself as when I started I made many mistakes to be here today. It is entirely a learning process. Nonetheless, I feel there needs to be a change for good and better in terms of local music scene.

MTC: Anything you would like to add?

Jah bear witness to the Love of many and all. I am 1 among you and millions, thus I am an artist with not only music to sing but a message to spread. Music has the power to revolutionize and the power to bring change. I am no great or want to be a great person. I just want to say my mind and bring the lessons of what we are truly to all.
Jah bless. Naa Neh Rasta-Mizhan.

Deftman’s Fan Page: https://facebook.com/DeftmanDanDada

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