Entertainment · August 4, 2022

Folk music different from others

LOOKS for Wan Umar Shahid certainly deceive for when The sun When he met him, the aspiring singer-songwriter was taller than he appeared in photos.

And then his boyish face betrays the timbre of his voice.

“I sing in a baritone voice,” says Shahid, who sings folk songs under the stage name Sounds of Kites.

“To be honest, when I first started playing guitar, I mostly sang pop songs [those by the band] Fall out Boy. At one point I tried to sound like Maroon 5. Then it was Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, but I couldn’t sing ‘well’,” he explained.

After finding out about and falling in love with musician Richard Hawley, who sang baritone, Shahid began experimenting with singing in the field.

“I realized that when I sang back[Hawley’s]songs, I could hit the notes and it felt very comfortable. It also felt like it gave me a unique advantage as well,” he said.

But anyone who has heard even one of his songs would tell you that Sounds of Kites differs from other contemporary folk projects, even though they have folk undertones.

In a way, Shahid’s baritone singing adds a unique touch to his folk songs.

No rushing quality

As Sounds of Kites, Shahid recently released his second album, faceless nameafter his debut Think Sycamorefour years ago.

Assuming the release gap was down to factors like office work/music-making balance, or even possibly the pandemic, Shahid was quick to disprove that assumption.

“When I released the debut album in 2018, I didn’t want to release an album year after year. I wanted to let it go.”

“I plan to be forgotten when I’m gone,” Shahid says, citing the song “The Wild Hunt” by Kristian Matsson / The Tallest Man on Earth.

“That line was stuck in my head.”

“When I released the first album I thought I’d just go on tour and promote the album as best I could, but once I’m done I’ll just let other albums pile it up. I was happy with the idea.”

Even if it took some time faceless name to materialize, Shahid wouldn’t have done it any other way.

stories and songs

The project’s name – Sounds of Kites – comes from a memory Shahid, 32, had from his youth of seeing a man successfully fly a kite in a park surrounded by tall trees.

“This is the park,” he said, pointing to the restaurant we were in across the street from SS14.

Memories seem to be important to Shahid and they play an integral part in the concept behind it faceless name.

The cover of the album is a photograph taken by Shahid’s wife and the images in it – behind the cover and in the lyric book – were taken during his travels.

In the center of the CD cover are two images of a drag queen in Bangkok. Her eyes digitally scratched out.

“It’s a name without a face. The album is about people I’ve met and looking at the pictures I know the memory that comes with it, but I don’t really know their story. Like the drag queen.”

Shahid integrates more samples into the new album than on his first album.

“I grew up listening to a lot of post-rock, like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Sigur Rós. They would implement all of these samples into their songs, and I’ve always wanted to have an album with samples,” he says.

The most outstanding sample is on “Ipoh/Infinity” by a Cendol seller who was also a memory.

“When I played Infinity, I felt like something was missing. So I searched my phone because I like to walk around and just turn on my sound recording to record what I can.

“Once I was going to Ipoh, and as I was walking down a street, an aunt was selling cendol. It sounded good, so I cut it out, looped it, and matched it (to the original song).

never settle down

As a whole, faceless name marks a departure from Shahid’s second debut. Much more thought, effort and character went into the album.

“I wasn’t aware that my second album sounded different than the first. But I would say over the years I’ve realized that I should pay more attention to singing than playing guitar.”

Noticing how short the lyrics were on the first album, how little he sang and how much more focus he had on playing the guitar, Shahid did just the opposite faceless name.

“I’d like to think I’ve made it, although I’m still not the best at it. Still working on improvement”.

While nothing is set in stone at the moment, Shahid is planning a tour in Ipoh, Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Singapore sometime mid-September to October and he will play a show tonight, August 4th at Merdekarya.

faceless name is available via soundsofkites.com, with the album also available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music and Youtube.