All images credit: Wanted Symphony
The local music scene is immense and thriving with many creative talents who not only entertain people but also provide opportunities for other creatives. One of them is singer-songwriter, Daniel Wong aka Wanted Symphony.
Known for his vocal prowess and famed for his soulful electro pop and RnB music, Daniel has also been keeping himself busy, running live music series, Soundstruck : Live at the Bee for the past three-years!
You’ve probably heard his single, “In The Eyes Of The World”. It was nominated for the category of ‘Best EDM Song’ at the Voice Independent Music Awards (VIMA) 2016. Check it out below!
Good stuff right? So we decided to virtually sit down and talk to him on what makes him love music. And hate it at the same time.
Hey man! You go by the moniker Wanted Symphony. Why and how did you come up with it?
Wanted Symphony was a name chosen back when I was still in a band with four other guys. Three of us were classically trained musicians hence the association with the term ‘symphony’. We also aspired to write music that people ‘wanted’ to listen to. And there you have it! The name has stuck with me since, being the frontman and all. Not many people actually know my real name is Daniel Wong! I guess I also don’t usually publicise my own name a lot, since I literally have one of the most common (read: forgettable) names on the planet and most people already recognise me as Wanted Symphony.
How long have you been in the local music scene and what are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
I’ve been officially doing this for a little over 6 years now, but I actually started out when I was 16 – performing in local hotels and bars. It was good training wheels for me, and when the opportunity came for me to step out into the scene, I took it. For me, I think I don’t usually qualify the challenges that I face – everything is sorta like one big challenge, you know? At first it was having to juggle studies and music, now it’s work and music! Learning the ropes of self-marketing along the way, finding out the hard way that it’s not what you can do but who you know, people getting in your faces telling you that you’ll never make it in Malaysia, and then getting to the point where you’re well-known enough to garner some hate and cause some drama. Then there was this entire episode where I had to transition from being the lead vocalist of a band to being a solo artist, because people and priorities change over the years. That, coupled with music-related challenges like having to play 4 full-fledged shows a week during peak periods and keeping your voice healthy, or having to churn out 3 new songs in 2 days to meet a production quota; I tell you man, it was all a big topsy-turvy love-hate relationship with my music career! I wouldn’t have it any other way, though. That’s the beauty of the journey, and the highlights – man, those are all worth the trouble you go through to get there.
How did you get started in music and what inspires you to constantly create music?
Funny story, just like every other Asian family, my mom forced me into music class at the age of 4. I remember kicking and screaming and refusing to go, but I thank her with all my heart today for pushing me to learn the piano. I wouldn’t be here otherwise! It sounds corny I know, but my love for this craft is more than enough to keep me going. I enjoy writing music, and I enjoy performing. So many good things have come to me because of my music, and I intend to keep doing this until I am no longer physically able to. In terms of songwriting, I’m inspired by things around me – the workings of people, relationships and also my travels.
Yes, I am currently writing new material for my debut album and I am hoping to start production properly this year. Things have been constantly put off due to other opportunities like international shows, collaborations, media appearances etc but I’ve set my mind to get it nailed down this time!
What’s your advise for budding songwriters out there?
Try to find a formula that best suits you in terms of writing. If this means having to go out of the way for inspiration to come knocking, do it. Constantly adapt and evolve, and be open to change. Always keep your musical radar turned on as you never know when a tune might suddenly come to you. Remember, if you want to make music for the masses, catchy hooks and pop-sounding tunes are the way to go. It’s a proven formula that many have put into practice. If you’re not worried about selling tonnes of records, by all means keep experimenting and be adventurous! But above all, always have fun and put your heart into what you’re doing.
You also organise Soundstruck : Live at The Bee on a monthly basis. How did it first come about?
It started as a thought that occurred to me: What if you could create your own community of musicians, music lovers AND give back to the scene at the same time? That’s how Soundstruck : Live started – a platform by musicians, for musicians. We started small and irregular, until we eventually began working with The Bee, who have been hosting us monthly for the past 3 years. I wanted to build an audience for acts who have no clue on how and where to start, as well as give the people in the scene a chance to mingle and meet one another. In order to do that, we had to ensure that the show was consistent. We also had to handpick our acts to give people a reason to keep coming back every month. Keeping up with our promise to showcase the best upcoming talents in the scene, I’m humbled to say that we’ve managed to consistently rope in a full house of people every single time the show has happened. In fact, our anniversary festival (Soundstruck : Fest) last year drew out almost 2,000 people! We have also partnered with names like Sennheiser and Universal Music, leveraging on the community to bring bigger events to live.
Since this makes you an event organiser cum artist, how do you balance yourself out? Were there been days where you’ve been left exhausted?
Oh all the time! It took a lot of getting used to at first, because you deal with an entirely different set of demons when you’re at both ends of the spectrum. As an artist, you see the ugly side of organisers, but on the other hand as an organiser, you get to see the ugly side of artists too. Many times I’ve been left either fuming or just outright speechless, but you learn and you grow. I suppose most people still know me as an artist, but the younger crowd see me as someone who provides opportunities. Either way is fine with me, and I put all doubt to rest because most of the time I do throw in a few songs at Soundstruck : Live, whether or not I’m officially on the performers’ bill. That being said, it definitely takes a lot of patience and determination to be in this dual role.
I try to constantly remind myself of the highs and only remember the learning points from the lows. Staying inspired and motivated is a choice you can make, and I try to do that by being around people whom I can learn from and who can encourage me in my journey.
What do you do on days when you feel demotivated or creatively drained?
I usually hit the gym or take a road trip. Working out helps me get rid of a lot of negative energy, and going away for awhile gives me time to refocus and realign my thoughts.
Turns out, you’re from my hometown! Tell me more about your days growing up in Seremban!
Well yes, I grew up in Seremban! I spent most of my adult life in KL though, so I barely remember anything from my days in that small town. I do remember attending my first music class there, though, in a small Yamaha music school with about 10 other kids. Haha.
Confirm you don’t dabble in music 24/7 right? What do you do during your free time then?
Besides music, I love travelling and photography. I spent 6 months backpacking in Europe in 2015, the best times of my life in recent memory. I also managed to play a few small shows here and there, so it allowed me to see what the music scene is like away from the country. People, culture and lifestyle over there are so different, and it was definitely an eye-opening experience. I wrote an entire collection of songs when I came back from my travels. So far, I’ve been to about 15 countries and I hope to do more exploring in the near future.
Check out Wanted Symphony on Soundcloud, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram. Oh! And follow Soundstruck : Live on Facebook too! Are you a musician too? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wanna get featured!