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Interview with Open Mic Malaysia's Shaneil Devaser

Interview with Open Mic Malaysia's Shaneil Devaser

According to his website, Shaneil Devaser has been around the block. From fronting the band Crossing Boundaries during his college days to now touring with his current four piece The Endleaves. He is a lead vocalist and guitar player, won a couple of Vima awards over the years and toured from USA to Asia. Originally from Kota Kinabalu and now residing in Petaling Jaya, the undisputed king of Open Mic nights in Kuala Lumpur with three nights running at The Swimming Club KL, Ploy at Clearwater, Geographer Café plus Kota Kinabalu (Biru Biru), we managed to grab some time in his busy schedule to find a bit more on how it all started, influences and some sound advise for up and coming musicians.

Hi Shaneil, welcome to The City List, so how did it all begin for you on a personal level? 

Well, if we are speaking about music, I’ve always wanted to front a rock band since I was thirteen! Tried playing for and putting together bands back home but nothing stuck till I got to university and formed Crossing Boundaries with Jeremiah, Tristan and Rashaad. Edwin drummed for a bit, but then he moved to OZ. After college, I started The Endleaves with Riz and we’ve gone through many lineup changes since but we’re quite set with Riz on lead guitar, Jeremiah (from Crossing Boundaries) on bass, and Malcolm on drums. So, to answer the question, it was never really a beginning, more of a finding.



You have had a number of releases over the years, how were they received and how has it helped progress your career?

Personally, I feel all my releases over the years have been received well, but then again it’s not about getting to #1, it’s more about expressing oneself and capturing the moment. I spent a lot of time as a kid listening to records by artists I knew I would never meet but had such an influence over my life. Hopefully, my records would have a similar effect on someone someday too, even if it’s long after I’m gone. People around us seem to like the records, and in terms of career progression, records are more milestones than achievements. It’s part of being a musician.


Tell us a bit more about Open Mic Malaysia, how did it start?

I started the website when I came back from an open mic tour in Melbourne. I realised we didn’t have a similar listing here so I started the website and went looking for open mic nights to list, but I found out there were not many open mic nights around! I then started running open mic nights here and there, and we’ve just been expanding since 2012. At this moment, we have a monthly open mic night back in Sabah and a couple of weekly ones here in the Klang Valley and we also support one that runs up north in Penang via social media. So basically we found a gap in the market and worked towards bridging said gap.


Interview with Open Mic Malaysia's Shaneil Devaser


What have been some of the highs and lows?

Pretty simple really - highs would have been when there was money in the bank, lows would have been when there was no money in the bank haha!


What has been your most memorable moment running Open Mic Malaysia? 

We have a roster of over 100 regulars so we're talking about great diversity and it's just so inspiring to see so much talent around.


Any up and coming bands/singers locally we should be looking out for over the next twelve months?

Everyone has something to offer! Depends on your taste. I’d suggest to follow Open Mic Malaysia on Facebook and Instagram and see who tickles your fancy then follow them!



If you had one bit of advice for anyone trying to break through what would it be?

Work hard and stay humble. Be on time and stay disciplined. Nothing comes easy and it takes a lot of effort and dedication to get what you want.


Who are some of your musical influences and why? 

My biggest influence would be Silverchair because when The Greatest View came out I was like man I wanna do that. I also listened to a lot of stuff from the 90s e.g. Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Oasis, etc., because that’s what kids in Sabah listened to when I was growing up. Nowadays it's quite a mix of everything what with having anything and everything on Spotify!


Describe your sound?

Indie Punk Blues Rock.


You have gigged quite a bit in Malaysia and beyond, what’s been your favourite? 

To be honest, all gigs have their own charm! I’d say my favourite tour abroad would have been the short one I did with Mystery Tapes in Hong Kong a couple of years back. Then again, the trip to Bangkok last year was fun too! The couple of runs I’ve had in Australia also bring back good memories. And some shows I’ve played here in the Klang Valley have also been fun but to be honest, Sabah shows are always the best!


Without naming names what’s the worst experience as an artist to date?

I don't think I've had a worst experience to date, but what does get to me is tardiness when it comes to communication, scheduled playing times and payments. These things will ruin even the best of gigs.


Name one Artist/s you would like to work with and why?

Creatively, I enjoy working with artists I already have a good relationship with. Having said that, I would like to work with Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age as my producer for an album!



What frustrates you and what do you love about the music scene here in KL?

The main things that frustrate me about the music scene here in KL are the politics and tardiness, but I feel these things happen everywhere. What I love about the scene is that it is our scene, and it is still young and malleable – the sky is the limit!


What else have you got lined up for 2019?

We - as in The Endleaves - are in the midst of recording our 3rd studio album! Not many gigs booked up yet, but that’s cause we’ve just been busy. Everyone in the band also has their own thing. Riz gigs with other bands, Malcolm gigs with many other bands, and Jeremiah just got a kid! So, for now, it’s focus on the 3rd album, then world domination.

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