By Supriya Sivabalan and Fajar binti Benjamin
The ever-thriving local music scene that’s full of talented artists of all ages has been growing over the recent years as we watch the rise of many musical talents. Among them include Daniel, 29 and Ruben, 24 also known as Wanted Symphony.
Echo Media’s event team had the pleasure of interviewing this singer-songwriter duo who are about to release their new album this year on all digital platforms.
Having started the band roughly 8 years ago, the reputable name “Wanted Symphony”, was inspired by Daniel’s roots of being a classically trained pianist and his desire to create music you’d want to listen to. Originally a 5-piece rock band, once the other members decided to embark on different paths in life, Daniel (basically the Brendon Urie of Wanted Symphony) discovered Ruben while he was hosting his show Soundstruck. This was 2 years ago and the meeting almost seemed like destiny. Daniel heard Ruben performing and thought “damn, this Indian boy can sing!”. The rest is history. Here’s the scoop:
1. Tell us a bit about yourselves.
“Fun fact about me, I’m actually a qualified lawyer,” is not what you’d expect to hear from a band member’s mouth. A man of many talents, Daniel is classically trained in piano and self-taught in two other instruments, namely the drums and guitar. Smiling fondly, he recounts, “I had the typical tiger mom, I got forced into piano lessons from the age of 4.”
Ruben on the other hand, turned down the classical training his parents put him into for guitar. “At that age I was 7, I wasn’t really interested in it. So, I stopped classes after a year”. Luckily for us, at age 14 he became interested again but by then, his parents didn’t want to send him for classes anymore so he taught himself, only really starting to sing a couple of years after that. His first open mic was at the age of 19 and he slowly worked his way from there.
2. Who are your biggest inspirations?
“I’m happy because I can go back to my roots”, says Daniel. This artist is proud to say that he is now able to reflect his influences in his music today. As a songwriter, Daniel takes inspiration from songwriters who produce soulful music with meaning like Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars. In terms of style, he looks toward artists like Alicia Keys, Brian McKnight, John Mayer and Labrinth. Ruben, on the other hand, leans towards pop-punk music with a tinge of rock where All Time Low, Simple Plan and 3 doors down are among his largest inspirations.
3. What is the name of your album and how many tracks are on it?
(Mischievously) “We’re not going to tell you that, but there are 11 tracks on the album. Maybe some bonus ones too. Who knows?”
4. What is the main message you wish to convey through the release of this album?
“Hey we’re here, we’ve been around. This is the showcase of our work over the years, a reflection of the journey with the band.” The duo wishes to spread love and positivity through the genuineness of their music, full of songs about life, love and the girls who broke their hearts.
Although we try prying deeper into the sound and genre of this album, or even the instruments played, the duo remains very secretive. “We’re keeping it a surprise but trust me when I say this” Daniel confidently states, “It’s not going to sound like everything else that’s out there.”
They also mention an upcoming collaboration with local artist Nadhirah. They will be working together on a couple of tunes – something that everyone can look forward to dropping soon.
5. What are some of the biggest challenges in producing this album?
The two were very quick to say “timing”. This is actually the third time Daniel has tried to produce this album. “There’s a reason why in 8 years we have not produced a full-length album”, he clarifies. “Besides the obvious initial hiccups we had with the band lineup, we decided to take our time to hone our craft so that we can now proudly say that this is who we are, and this is our identity in music.” Wanted Symphony really took the time and effort to understand the type of music they wish to put out and are now eagerly waiting to release this well-crafted masterpiece.
6. Is it a challenge specifically to have only two members in your band?
Daniel jokes about how it’s fewer mouths to feed before addressing again, the timing issue. “There are some bands who have 4, 5 even 8 members and I honestly don’t know how they do it. Even to get 5 guys in the same room is a challenge”. He explained that between him and Ruben, there is a lot more freedom to get creative as there are only two musical tastes to cater to.
7. Wanted Symphony mentioned that there is currently a transition from their old music genre and that they “want to slowly start feeding our (their) new genre to people.” Why this transition of music genre?
“Daniel gets bored playing 4 chords”, mentions bandmate Ruben. The band wanted to revert to writing more meaningful and technical songs that are true to their roots. “Songs that can show off what I can do as a vocalist and, now that Ruben is involved, show off what he can do with the guitar and his voice.”
They currently do a lot of harmonies when it comes to their songs. However, anyone interested can look up their old music on SoundCloud and YouTube while the newer songs will be streamed on Spotify and other online platforms once they drop.
8. What are your biggest aspirations for the band?
Daniel is pretty content with the extent of Wanted Symphony. “You know,” he says wistfully, “we’ve done pretty much everything, except the album.” If anything, Daniel intends to bring Ruben to experience what he did back in the day since the 24-year-old relative newbie to the scene is looking to perform for bigger audiences and larger shows and maybe even perform internationally which is something he never really had a chance to do during his solo career.
9. In Malaysia, where is your favourite place to play your music?
“KL!” (Kuala Lumpur), Daniel answers with no hesitation. They also enjoy playing in Penang due to the responsive crowd. However, a combination of the best crowd, stage and sound system is all in KL according to the duo.
10. How do your families feel about your music?
Both their parents are not opposed to the dreams of the duo. Ruben even mentions that his family is pretty supportive of his journey in the music industry but does want him to have a degree to fall back on. (“So if receiving an award, would you go on stage thanking your family for being your biggest supporters?” we ask. Daniel immediately laughs his no but Ruben considers that he would).
11. What do you have to say about your current following?
With a consistent following over the past few years, Wanted Symphony says that “the fun part about being in a band for such a long time is you can see your fans grow with you”. Daniel started the band in college and is currently a working adult now. According to him, the fans who have stuck by them since the beginning have all grown too thus they receive a variety of gigs these days including many corporate shows.
12. Is there anything you wish to say to our readers?
“Support our local artists. We’re all humans and we all want to make a name for ourselves. Check out local artists, there’s an abundance of talent out there – bands who have been around for a long time and bands who have come out.” He also mentions many potential employers expect they won’t have to pay artists to perform. There is a challenge for local English artists in terms of international competition and aiming to be different. The music industry is tough to break into as the music produced must be on par with other music in rotation. “Nowadays, local artists have stepped up their game”, says Daniel and encourages everyone to have a listen.
13. Do you have a message for your fans?
The gratitude they have goes without saying. “I know people who have followed the band for 8 years and for that, I’m really grateful.” As for those who have not heard of Wanted Symphony, the two do not expect you to become a fan overnight. All these guys want is to be given the benefit of the doubt, for people to listen to their music and come to their shows.
Wanted Symphony has dropped an EP in 2014 and also released a few singles which took off well and were played on the radio, used in short films and even in clubs!
The duo is an extremely fun pair who have learnt a lot from each other considering the gap in experience and age. Ruben mentions that he has developed his vocal skills through many tips and tricks he picked up from Daniel and Daniel has expanded his music library through Ruben’s different influences in music.
Their album will be available for streaming in Spotify, iTunes and every other digital platform sometime in May. If you are interested in catching them live, then follow them @wantedsymphony on Instagram or Wanted Symphony on Facebook for updates.