Persistence is the key when starting life as a musician and Brendan De Cruz oozes plenty of that. What started for many learning at home, progressed into shows at school and the subsequent corporate and bar/pub circuit which allowed him to find himself as an artist. Whilst captivating with his strong vocals, he also drums for The Propositions and has his own monthly slot with 'a very indie showcase' at The Bee, Publika. We sat down with Brendan to discuss more about his career to date, music releases and his admiration for Damien Rice.
Hi Brendan, welcome to The City List, so how did it all begin?
Hello! Thanks again for having me!
Well, I first started performing at home, just singing randomly at family functions, and played my first public show at an Interact event in school when I was 16. Not too far away from then, at the beginning of 17, my brother had formed a band with his friends, and they were looking for a vocalist, and I hopped on board! We then went on to play together for about 2 years at corporate dinners, birthdays, pubs, bars, and more. After the 2 years, all of them went about working/studying abroad, and that sort of left me alone. Haha. I then focused more on learning the guitar and started hitting open mics at venues such as Laila's Cafe, Lepaq Cafe, Artista and more.
You have had a number of releases since 2016, how were they received and how has it helped progress your career since?
Yeah! So far, it has been 4 records! 3 of them are my own singer-songwriter records, and the 4th being with The Propositions, a local, pop/punk band which I drum for. Reception has been great! I managed to get through near 500 copies of the first record, and about 700 copies of the second, and the third album, was just launched last August, so let's give that some time! In terms of progress, it's definitely given me growth as a songwriter, as I also managed to meet quite a number of professional musicians along the way, who have been in the industry for ages, and they would always give constructive advice towards how to move forward, and what else I could or could not do. The music has changed too if you give the first record a listen, and then check this latest album out.
Tell us a bit more about the Bentley Records Europe Manufacturing & Distribution (M&D) deal you recently signed?
I sent Bentley my portfolio a couple of months ago, and they were keen on getting me on board. The contract hopefully works more towards getting the music to the other side of the world. The most I am hoping for is just more coverage. That's honestly about it. Let the music reach more people outside Asia.
Who are some of your musical influences and why?
Firstly, it would have to be my late father. He was a country musician by night and a full-time editor/journalist by day. We have been watching him perform since a very young age, and it was always a wonder to see your father up on a stage, belting out some tunes. I did not know it then, but, as I gradually fell into this career, or more likely, chose it, it shows a lot more now, how much he has influenced me as a musician. Aside from that, I would say the Kris Kristofferson and Damien Rice are right after. I believe in the power of words, and the simplicity of making music. And these two, to me, are poets in their respective ways. A lot of their music influences my songwriting.
Describe your sound?
My sound would be simple folk/pop. It's mild, nothing too heavy, and maybe just a tinge of an alternative sound here and there. I love trying to be able to tug at heartstrings.
You have gigged quite a bit inside Malaysia over the last couple of years, what’s been your favourite?
One of the favourites would have to be playing at Urbanscapes in 2014! And this year, I will be playing Urbanscapes 2018 alongside Fabian Mark Peter, (whom I shared the stage with at Urbanscapes 2014), Nadir, FAZZ and Billie Blue & The Nowhere Men. And all this is happening under a monthly showcase I run at The Bee in Publika called "A Very Indie Showcase", which was picked up by Urbanscapes as part of their schedule this year.
What has been your most memorable moment as an artist?
Aside from catching Damien Rice live in Singapore in 2016? Or Foo Fighters in Bangkok in 2017? Haha. The most memorable would have to be when people who have come to my show, come up to me after and tell me how much a certain song struck them. That truly is something else. When you have managed to touch someone through your own music.
Without naming names what’s the worst experience as a singer to date?
Well, I do not know whether this was good or bad. But I was playing a show once, and mid-song, this guy walked right up to me, came up on stage, and lightly put an RM50 note onto my forehead. I did not know if that was a compliment, or not. Haha.smacked
Any up and coming bands/singers locally we should be looking out for over the next twelve months?
Not too sure about up and coming, but some names to look out for are singer-songwriter, Beverly Matujal, and Penang indie-rockers, Volatile. Truly something else, these two.
If you had one bit of advice for anyone trying to break through what would it be?
Don't stop trying! You might fail most days, but always remember that it is part of the process. If you stop trying, you'd probably not find out what's around the bend. It really is not easy to want to pursue a passion as a career, especially in the world today. But my idea is, if you're going to spend 8-10 hours a day working for someone else, why not spend those hours on yourself instead?
Name one Artist/s you would like to work with and why?
Locally, it would be Fabian Mark Peter. We have been friends for quite some time now, and been musicians in the scene for Internationally, it would have to be Damien Rice or Ed Sheeran. These two are poets in their own ways, and they travel the world entertaining crowds of thousands, just with their voices and their guitars. awhile too, and we've shared numerous stages together, but we have yet to get into the studio and work together. So, would definitely want that to happen sometime.
What frustrates you and what do you love about the music scene here?
Frustrates? The bias. Anyone who has been or tried to be, in the local music scene, will tell you how it is very much a who-knows-who kind of industry. Sometimes, it goes down to even a who-likes-who kind of situation. We have A TON of great talent out there, but near no support is provided by these "gatekeepers". What do I love? Is that along the way, you do meet some amazing people, and amazing talents, who do their best to help and support the music. People who want to make a change, or even people who have already made a change. A little definitely goes a long way.
What else have you got lined up for 2018?
Right now, the band I drum for, The Propositions, will be releasing our second EP this coming December 22nd at The Bee in Publika, under the Christmas edition of the showcase I run there called, " A Very, Merry, Indie Xmas ". This is the second Christmas show for the series which kicked off last year. Aside from that, just got to play more and spread the music. Maybe a Christmas single in December? Who knows!
You can also find Brendan via social media & iTunes.