LOOKS certainly deceive Wan Umar Shahid, because when the sun met him, the rising singer-songwriter was taller than he appeared in the photos.
And then there’s how his boyish face betrays the timbre of his voice.
“I sing with a baritone voice,” says Shahid, who sings folk songs under the stage name Sounds of Kites.
“When I first played the guitar, actually, I was mostly singing pop songs, like [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 discovering and falling in love with musician Richard Hawley, who sang baritone, Shahid began experimenting with singing in this range.
“I realized that when I was singing the (Hawley) songs, I could hit the notes and it was very comfortable. I also felt like it gave me a unique edge as well,” he said. declared.
However, anyone who has heard even one of his songs will tell you that although they have folk overtones, Sounds of Kites stands apart from other contemporary folk projects.
In a way, Shahid’s baritone singing gives his folk songs a unique edge.
No rushed quality
As Sounds of Kites, Shahid recently released their second album, faceless nameafter his debut Remember SycamoreFour years ago.
Assuming the posting discrepancy was due to factors like balancing a desk job and music, or even possibly the pandemic, Shahid was quick to dispel the hypothesis.
“When I released the first album in 2018, I didn’t want to continuously release an album year after year. I wanted to let it go.”
“I plan to be forgotten when I’m gone,” Shahid says, quoting Kristian Matsson/The Tallest Man on Earth’s song “The Wild Hunt.”
“That line was stuck in my head.”
“When I released the first album, I thought I was just going to tour, promote the album as much as possible, but once I’m done, I’m just going to let it be piled on by other albums I stuck with the idea.
Although it took some time to faceless name materialize, Shahid would not have done otherwise.
Tales and songs
The name of the project – Sounds of Kites – comes from a memory Shahid, 32, had of his teenage years, when he saw a man successfully fly a kite in a park surrounded by towering trees.
“It’s the park,” I said, pointing outside the restaurant where we were, on the other side of the SS14 road.
Memories seem to be important to Shahid, and they play a vital role in the concept behind faceless name.
The album cover is a photo taken by Shahid’s wife, and the photos inside – behind the cover and in the lyric booklet – were taken during his travels.
In the middle of the CD cover are two photos of a drag queen in Bangkok. Their eyes, digitally scratched.
“It’s a name, without a face. The album revolves around people I’ve met and when I look at the photos, I know the memory that goes with it, but I don’t really know their story. Like the drag queen .
In the new album, Shahid incorporates more samples than on his first album.
“I grew up listening to a lot of post-rock, like Godspeed You! The Black Emperor and Sigur Rós. They were implementing all these samples in their songs, and I always wanted to have an album with samples,” he says.
The sample that stands out the most is on “Ipoh/Infinity”, from a cendol salesman, which was also a memory.
“When I played Infinity I felt like something was missing. So I went through my phone, because I like to walk around and just turn on my sound recording, to remind myself of that that I can “.
“There was this one time I went to Ipoh, and walking down a street, an aunt was selling cendol. It sounded good, so I cut it, looped it, and adapted it (to the original song)” .
In general, faceless name marks a departure from Shahid’s sophomore debut. Much more thought, effort and character have been injected into the album.
“It wasn’t a conscience to have my second album sound different from the first. But I would say that over the years I realized that I had to pay more attention to the vocals rather than the guitar”.
Noting how short the lyrics were on the debut album, how little he sang, and how much more focused he was on the guitar, Shahid did the exact opposite for faceless name.
“I’d like to think I’ve managed to do it, although I’m still not the best at it. Still improving.”
Although nothing is set in stone at the moment, Shahid is planning a tour of Ipoh, Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Singapore between mid-September and October, and he will play a show in Merdekarya tonight, August 4.
faceless name is available for purchase on soundofkites.com, with the album also available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.