Meet The Filters- a four-men-band who are fresh out of college but has been on a constant pursuit for music and performances for years. In today’s Featured Interview, The Filters talks to Sevenpie about their latest song, John Pine as well as their experience shooting their first ever music video. Enjoy!
1. Hi The Filters! Please give us a brief introduction about the band.
The Filters is a Fractional Math / Indie Rock outfit consisting of Ian Francis Khoo (vocals, guitar), Aiman Shakirin (drums), Reuben Ravi (bass) and our most recent addition, Iain Chan (guitar). The three of us have been pretty much inseparable since we met in high school and we were later introduced to Iain in college. We’ve been playing together for about six years now.
2. The Filters is such a cool name. Were there any backstories behind why this name was decided to be THE name for the band to represent your music and identity?
Naming the band is actually something that we can’t take credit for. That credit goes to a close friend of the band, Emma Khoo. If it were up to us, we would’ve totally butchered it. The name came from an abandoned parking lot on the fourth floor of this deserted mall that the band use to hang out at after school. It’s where we traded playlists, had our earliest discussions about the kind of music we’d be formulating and it was where we decided to initiate the band. Despite the elevated view and the prospect of privacy, the one detrimental flaw about this spot was the amount of neglect it received by cleaners and shoppers alike. So, a notable detail was that, it was always littered with cigarette filters that had been discarded by anyone who was fortunate enough to stumble upon that secluded spot. I guess we thought that it was funny that this place that held so much allure and meaning to us was also a total trash heap. In a similar fashion, the way our music might lure an unsuspecting listener in with its pretty layering at the forefront, only to reveal more malignant and disgusting undertones.
3. So, the band consists of the 4 of you who are currently studying. How do you keep the band together with gigs to perform and assignments to submit at the same time?
All of us have actually graduated quite recently and quite fortunately as well. But when we were studying, it definitely wasn’t an easy task. The ultimate scenario would’ve been, to play every time we were on a semester break, without having to disrupt our schedules. But we’re not going to lie, each one of us has definitely had to forego classes or miss an assignment deadline more than once in order to make way for a show.
4. Please tell us more about your sound and music; how it’s different from other local indie band out there?
It’s pretty hard to pinpoint exactly what sets us apart from other local indie bands, or even other bands in general, given our current state of music, where musicians no longer adhere to a singular genre of music and every band is cross-breeding genres that they love. We are no exception to this rule. Our sound mainly consists of elements borrowed from genres that we find intriguing, whether it be the intricate structures and odd time signatures of Math Rock, the smooth and sultry chord progressions within Jazz, the driving rhythms of Electronic Dance Music or even the raw intensity of your everyday Garage Rock band. This mostly stems from us not being disciplined or good enough to really hone in on any one genre, which I’m sure most bands can relate to. To say that our sound is unique would be a statement that would drown itself in a sea of similar statements, but to say that we’re experimental might be an insult to other bands who are really pushing more musical boundaries and limitations than we are.
5. Tell us more about the song John Pine.
John Pine was the second song that we’ve ever written together and is also the second single off of our EP that’s currently in the works. The song’s meaning is twofold in that, it is written from the perspective of someone who is dealing with a fair-weather friend; someone who is never around in times of utmost importance and is a detriment to your life even when present, but whose significance in your life is undeniable. However, this also serves as an underlying metaphor for addiction, whereby an individual’s addiction is personified or referred to as a physical person. That person would be John Pine.
6. So, you’ve recently shoot your very first music video at The Gaslight. Tell us more about the experience.
It was a new experience for us to be working with different people other than ourselves for the first time. Even recording and production for our EP is strictly being handled by ourselves, so letting others in on the creative process was a big step for us. We were lucky enough to be approached by Glowing Ring Films, a group of talented students who shared our vision for the shoot. We were concerned with capturing something that wasn’t too ambitious to the point of falling flat, so instead, we decided to keep it simple and tasteful by capturing the subtle nuances and orchestrated chaos of a night at one of our shows and the after party that follows. Compared to something with an overblown budget and cringe-worthy acting, we figured that restraint was probably a more suitable and fruitful direction. The love and support of the people who attended that night was overwhelming to say the least and to be surrounded by our closest friends and family was truly a blessing.
7. What are the upcoming gigs which we should take note of?
If all goes well, we’ll be playing a pretty special show at The Bee, on the 5th of November organised by the wonderful people down at Alam Bunyian. We’ll be sharing the stage with our mentor, Endee Ahmad. More details on that show will be released soon. Just keep on the lookout.
8. 3 names (can be anyone) which you’d like to collaborate with?
We’ll start with our local picks first. If Senja does start to experiment with more Math Rock elements, we definitely see a collaboration brewing over the horizons. A collaboration with Ian F. & Court 10 would birth some pretty strange experimentation too. And if we’re talking international, it’d be an absolute dream to collaborate with a band like Palm.
9. Who are your all-time music inspirations from the local scene?
Endee Ahmad, GLASS, Sendiket Jongkong Emas and Son Of A Policeman. These guys have been nothing short of older brothers to us. They’ve not only inspired us but taught us well.
10. What are the highlights that you’ve experienced as budding artists so far?
About three years ago, we played an open mic at The Bee to a crowd of barely twenty people and we played to resounding silence at the end of our laughably terrible set. With that traumatic experience, we figured it was best we never showed our faces around there again. However, this year we were given the opportunity to redeem ourselves at the same venue, where we played to a packed room. Some of the crowd joined the rowdy “moshpit” that erupted during our set, others were singing (or rather shouting) along to our songs and our final crescendo was greeted with applause and cheers. That shot at redemption was a pretty big highlight for us.
11. Is there anything which you’d like to change about the local music scene?
Perhaps our attitudes towards one another. Healthy competition is a necessity in order to challenge oneself creatively but it is very easily confused for this particular mindset of “every man for himself” which has led to a certain level of toxicity amongst each other. With everyone looking out for themselves as individuals rather than collectively as an entire community of musicians in our scene. Why be at each other’s throats when we could be working together to expand the reach of our scene to places that have yet to hear what our very own Malaysians are capable of? As Jennifer Thompson said in her talk, The Business Of Music, we’re all in the same boat together. If one of us sinks, we’re bringing the whole boat down with us.
12. Where do you see The Filters in 2 years’ time?
It has always been a deep aspiration of ours to be able to tour, even outside the grasp of South East Asia. So we’d like to envision ourselves touring East Asia with at least two albums under our belt.
13. Any life mottos?
Live with stronger fears everyday.
14. What are the advises which you can offer to aspiring talents out there who wish to be part of the local entertainment scene?
We don’t think we’re really in a position to be giving out advice willy-nilly, but one word of advice that we would be allowed to give is this: In almost every aspect of the creative process, namely, recording, production, artwork or design, you should develop an obsessive interest over it and do it yourself. This sort of work ethic will then instigate a more creative approach and establishes a sense of independence and pride over a product that you know you have laboured over and worked hard to create. One more bit of advice would be to always experiment and innovate your sound. Try to stray away from falling into musical clichés. We shouldn’t let our music regress into a cycle of repetition. In our sessions, we’ve recorded with trash cans, doors slamming, empty basins, we’ve chopped up and rearranged our sound files, we’ve recorded entire segments in reverse. Music is a profession that opens the door and allows for us to bend the rules and experiment with these strange ideas, without any forms of limitations. So go absolutely nuts.
Follow The Filters on their Instagram to learn more about their performance schedule and latest projects!
Photo credits: Luqman Al-Hakim