With the growth of home recording technology (made affordable to everybody), many homosapiens find themselves venturing into music production. While some eventually pull multiple duties as studio owners, sound engineers, and even vocal coaches, the rest went on to work as music producers, producing award-winning songs.
Galvin Patrick is a Simanggang-based music producer. His passion for music developed at a very early age, from watching his mother playing the keyboard and eventually learned from her. In his teen, he picked up the guitar and thereon mastered the art of playing the keytar.
The 30-year-old is also part of a church choir as a singer and a keyboardist. In his college days back in 2007, he actively performed in the local music scene as the keyboardist for independent bands like ‘Lateral Faction’ and ‘Solemn’.
Over the years, he naturally gravitated to compositions and has come to specialise in producing music, which he does in his bedroom using mainly FL Studio 12.
Galvin does not want to have a signature sound. He wants to be viewed as a more versatile music producer. On that ground, he has collaborated with and produced for a number of local and international artists on different music genres. This includes Paulo Santos, a singer from Brazil, Masia One, a rapper from Singapore and Melissa Francis, an Iban songstress from Sri Aman, Sarawak.
The music business is a nasty, cutthroat environment that will chew up and spit out those who are not well-ordered. And Galvin’s journey is also a rocky one. However, he is not allowing anything to slow him down. In fact, through his music, the producer has helped made the world a little better.
In 2011, he contributed one of his songs called Try To Save The World to help the victims of earthquake and tsunami in Japan through ‘Indie Aid Japan’, a compilation album of 28 digital tracks.
Below is a little bit more about the producer:
So Galvin, name 5 songs in your playlist.
– The Chainsmokers & Coldplay – Something Just Like This
– Ed Sheeran – The Shape of You
– Major Lazer – Run Up (ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR & Nicki Minaj)
– Kygo – It Ain’t Me (with Selena Gomez)
– The Weeknd – Starboy (ft. Daft Punk)
Do you have a guilty music or entertainment pleasure?
I do. Mostly boy band pop songs from the 90s. I listen to the Spice Girls, Aqua and Madonna as well.
You play the keys, you write and sing a little bit, and you produce. But you consider yourself more of a producer, correct?
Yeah. But I have trouble defining myself actually, including my genres. I also do a little bit of this and that. What I do love is, capturing ideas and turning them into songs.
A lot of people have the notion of producers as self-taught, bedroom musicians. Are you one of those and do you have a formal musical education?
I never took any professional training or classes. Most of the time, DIY or self-studied. Although I wish I had taken a formal musical education or any sound engineering courses. It was a tough call due to a tight budget. Most of the courses were in KL or overseas during that time.
I see. Shall we talk about your journey of becoming a self-taught producer then?
Sure. Let me begin with that time when I asked my uncle to get me a pirated software CD. I was looking for the best audio converter, for ringtones – the one that can chop the audio and have all the basic functions. Then I saw the ‘Magix Music Maker’ software in that CD, tried it out and was amazed by the functions. I thought to myself that ‘this is a hidden gem’. I started using it, and get to know the basics from the HELP file. There was no YouTube tutorial during that time. A few years later, I discovered Sony Acid Music, then shifted to Reason, Cubase, Ableton Live, and finally using FL Studio till now. It is the best DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) so far for me! I bought the original copy a few years back.
How did your family react to the idea of you producing music?
All parents want the best for their children. For me, it was quite tough. They were not keen on the idea. But so far, they have been showing great support and help to get my music going.
Tell us about your studio. What DAW and some of the plug-ins that you use?
I have a small bedroom studio with MSI GE 2PE Apache Pro, installed with FL Studio 12.4, M-Audio USB interface, A Samson CO3U mic, Kurzweil monitors. I use some hardware instruments like Korg Electribe Music Production, Korg Kross Workstation keyboard, Korg RK-100s keytar, alongside some midi controllers like Akai MPK mini and M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro. Most of the plug-ins I use are from FL Studio itself, with Airdrums, Hybrid3 and my favourite plugin, Harmor VST.
Do you prefer analogue or digital sound production?
Both. But it depends on what kind of music I want to produce. I did record some guitars on some of my tracks.
Your musical style has been defined as pop, hip hop and electronic dance. However, you probably listen to all kinds of music, correct? So what influences you to create your beats?
I listen to all, I love universal music. I would Google a song and find out who the producer is. I like producers like Kanye West, RedOne, Norman Cook, Max Martin, Diplo, Afrojack, Zedd, etc. But, overall, I love a mix of genres and experimenting them. That is one of the reasons I love to collaborate with everybody.
I see. Now, you were actively performing in the local music scene in 2007. Could you tell me more about how that started and your experience working with other musicians/bands?
I shared a demo I recorded back home with a friend (Bernie) in college. He then introduced me to his sister (Carrie) and talked about auditioning at ‘Rentak Juara RTM’. I was thrilled after listening to her voice during our band practice but we did not make it through. It was probably because she was way too young during that time. She was 14! Amazing talent with a BIG voice! But later, we performed together in metal-synth-rock bands called ‘Lateral Faction’ and ‘Solemn’. It was a great experience. I got to expose my talents to many different audiences in Kuching back then.
Besides that, you also formed your own project band – The 14th Project – in 2008 and released a demo with singles like ‘Goodbye to You’ and ‘Kesempurnaan Cinta’. Could you tell me more about that?
It was actually my project band before I proceed as a solo artist. I used Sony Acid Music to produce our tracks at that time. There were a lot of versions and demos of our songs. Maybe you can Google them. It was my earliest works that sounded really bad. I was so noob while producing those songs during that time!
I think you have gotten better. You were nominated in several music categories – ‘Lagu Borneo Paling Popular’, ‘Artis Solo / Band Borneo Paling Popular’, ‘Artis Harapan Borneo’ in Anugerah Carta Borneo Era 2011 for the song ‘Sang Mentari’, and ‘Best Electronica/Dance Song’ in VIMA 2011 music awards. And won the Anugerah Carta Borneo Era FM Sarawak (Best Lyrics) in 2012 for the song ‘Harapan’, and a Silver Award in VIMA (Voice of International Music Award) in 2014 (Best Genre Bender) for the song ‘Lagu Ini Hanya Untukmu’. How do you feel about these accomplishments?
It took me a while to believe all the hard work had paid off. I don’t really like to be praised as I don’t feel like I have achieved enough. There is more work to go for, but I do appreciate the support from everyone who has been pushing me forward.
After the many collaborations and the awards that you have won, you stumbled into mainstream prominence which led to you being signed under Warner/Chappell Music (Malaysia) to compose original songs for other artists, globally. Are you still doing that?
Yes. I recently continued my contract for 3 more years. I am hoping to work and collaborate with more talents from around Malaysia and worldwide. WCM (Warner Chappell Music) is actually my publisher, to copyright and protect my works. That means I can still work with whoever as long as they agree to split the royalty percentage. Sulu Sarawak, a brilliant songwriter was the one who helped me to get to WCM back then, after so much struggling to look for a publisher. See, I cannot hide the truth. I have been the victim in so many stories. It is probably because they wanted money more than music, and I was tricked so many times – my music was not getting paid, worst; stolen.
That is the ugly truth. But you managed. Now, that aside, I am sure you learned a thing or two from that, like revenue and royalty statements?
Let me put it like this; imagine your music is your property with some houses on it. The houses are the radio stations. The people in them are the listeners. Do you think the houses and people are staying there for free? They will pay the rent to you if they want to stay there, and more if for a longer period. That is how it works. People pay you for ‘renting’ your music on the radio. You will get the royalties for how many times the song got played on air.
Right. This is something many must take note, indeed. So, what is your philosophy concerning your own work?
I would like to create something that I love and make you fall in love with it too. Like buying a perfect gift.
Do you ever find yourself struggling as a creative? In the sense of music direction.
For me, I do stuff during late nights and early in the morning where inspiration would usually come. Sometimes, I have to take a break by watching movies and play games like Dota 2. Whenever an idea pops up, I usually record it on the audio recording app on my phone. Every idea is precious. Sometimes it takes 2 years to develop a song. I had to change and update the sound every now and then to make it more complete.
Do you think about the relevance of your music before you make it?
I like to update myself with sound designing properties. It is not about the trending genre but the sound you should develop to make it ‘yours’.
Right. You have been around for a while. A decade at least. How do you see the current state of the local music industry? (Mainstream and independent.)
So far, we are still left behind with ideas. For example, vocal sampling. I did vocal sampling in my song called ‘Mencuba Lagi’ 5 years ago. Now you can listen to top radio hits with lots and lots of vocals sampling. Though digital sampling has been in existence since the 1960s.
That is very interesting. How do you feel about the popularity of your music today?
Average. (I think) I did some pretty good songs with B-Heart and YMY, mostly well received. I did a collaboration with international artist like Masia One, on a track called Local Girls. She is an international rapper from Singapore/Canada and had collaborated with big names like Pharrell Williams and Major Lazer. I am not that popular yet. That is not really a concern. But I will get more songs out!
Do you think that social media has impacted your standing and presence within music?
I do. With today’s technology and thanks to the many smartphone users. The free marketing in promoting is a good move. Most of my songs had been downloaded and shared among friends through social media.
Do you feel like there is a lack of brotherhood within the local and independent music community?
The connection within the people. Yes. It is lacking because of the negative values. People do support you, but not forever. People change from fashion to food according to their personal preferences. The community cannot cope up with their interest so they often break up into smaller groups. However, there is a lot of bias in favour of helping others throughout the music scene. The truth is yet to be told. Someday.
You have collaborated with quite a number of rappers from the East and West Malaysia. What was your first memory of hip-hop?
I fall in love with hip hop music from Dr Dre’s work in Eminem’s songs since I bought the cassettes. Later on, from Sarawak itself, when I get to know some rappers and get into their community. I had so much fun knowing their music movement and get to collaborate on some songs with them.
To date, who did you work with the most and what is the most challenging collaboration – with who/what song?
I think to work with Paulo Santos a singer from Brazil. I had to learn some Portuguese to communicate with him and his producer. We swap files through emails and WhatsApp as usually but this time, in Brazilian Portuguese! Even foreign language can’t stop me from collaborating with anyone! There are 5 songs altogether in Portuguese. You can check them out here.
Who do you really want to work with; producer and/or artist?
I wish to work with anyone from Interscope Records, like RedOne, Zedd, The Chainsmokers, or anyone from Malaysia as well. Not just big names, but the local artist as well!
What is something you have been trying to do differently as a beat maker/producer so far?
I am trying to create a Sarawak’s style beat, as a genre originally created by me. Well, you can listen to Cantik or Local Girls to get the idea.
You were quiet for a year or two. I assume you were working on something different, something new. Mind sharing?
I isolated myself from everyone for the past 2 years and was heavily involved with church activities. The politic in the local music scene was getting a bit too much for me to handle. I went through depression, I was not getting much from my career, my songs were rejected for many times, and the local music community neglected me for being different, for looking too far ahead. I was criticised for suggesting the copyrighting of music, for collaborating with more artist from West Malaysia than the East and for focusing too much on the hip hop genre. What they do not know is, I was doing all sorts of genres, and even producing songs for Melissa Francis (a famous Iban songstress) and with other Iban bands as well. My music was also tagged as ‘western food’. Once a local producer said to me ‘People don’t eat spaghetti here in Malaysia’. It was because of my ideas of making clubby styles of genres in the Malay language that does not suit the local listeners here in Malaysia.
You had a pretty rocky journey. But the fast-paced music industry always tests the boldest of creatives. What are your music goals?
I wish to develop a dynamic platform for musicians to collaborate, from anywhere to anyone, globally.
While most musicians/producers opt for commercial names, why did you decided not to do the same and use your real name instead?
For me, finding my true identity is important. Attaching music to my name is another thing. I was impressed with so many individuals who have so many stories behind their names, from Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci, Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson. Being the person behind my own name is like standing up for what I believe in, that is my dream, my passion, the journey within every song I ever created.
Do you have advice for aspiring artists?
The more you are struggling, the more success you will find, later. Dream big and work hard!
“Cantik” OUT NOW
Apple Music: https://goo.gl/OFvDvg
Google Play: https://goo.gl/H35sLJ
Microsoft Groove: https://goo.gl/II7UKW