By JAYDEE LOK
TICKETS to Taylor Swift’s first ever concert in Malaysia were sold out in just over an hour when it went on sale, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still catch her when her RED Tour hits KL.
Cornetto, which recently introduced its limited Cornetto Taylor Swift Blackforest RED, is offering some money-can’t buy tickets, backstage passes, meet and greet passes and autographed Taylor Swift Guitar for a bunch of lucky fans.
And for one lucky musician (or band), there’s the Ride to Fame competition, which will provide the chance of a lifetime to perform on the same stage as T Swizzle herself!
All entries have been whittled down to five contestants, all of whom will be required to upload the video of a new cover song each week onto www.cornettoredtour.com.
Each week, the contestant with the least number of votes is eliminated. Once it’s down to the final two, the remaining contestants will have to battle it out against each other by working their chops on a Taylor Swift song.
Artist manager and producer Jennifer Thomspon, multi-talented artist Alif Satar and Sony Music Malaysia general manager Hermond Cheng make up the judging panel.
R.AGE caught up with all five of the contestants to provide the low-down on who they are and what they’re about.
Deanna Hussin, 17
This teenager from Penang comes brimming with a bubbly personality and endless potential.
She may have only finished secondary school a few months ago, but this acoustic guitar-wielding young pop rocker already has a Taylor Swift-esque career ahead of her with the waves she’s been making in the domestic music scene.
She is currently signed to local record label NAR Records and has already released two original singles – Back In Time and Selalu Ada.
As a fan of metaphors, Deanna admires Swift’s choice of words in her song Untouchable. “The line goes ‘Untouchable like a distant diamond sky, I’m reaching out and I just can’t tell you why,’” gushed Deanna.
“I think it’s really beautiful because she related the line to the sky, and the sky is my favourite thing.”
Mark Adam, 35
You can tell that Adam is a hopeless romantic. The vocal coach and multi-instrumentalist attended this interview with his beautiful and supportive wife and, to quote Taylor Swift, he said “she belongs with me and nobody else”.
Originally from Cebu, Philippines, Adam is no stranger to the Malaysian music scene. He has been teaching and performing as a professional artist here for the last 13 years.
He is literally the last man standing in the competition at the moment and he believes that because of this, and him being slightly older than the other contestants, his music is a little more unique and distinctive in comparison.
“If I make it to the final level, I will sing a male version of Taylor Swift’s Red,” he shared. “That is, if I can make it! The girls are too strong!”
Diandra Arjunaidi, 23
Much like Taylor Swift, this singer-songwriter’s career kicked off when she was only a teenager. Having worked the local indie circuit for years, Diandra is slowly becoming a household name and has often been compared to Yuna. Apart from her breakthrough performance at Urbanscapes 2011, she opened for American band Secondhand Serenade during its performance here that same year.
Diandra said that getting to open for Taylor Swift would be amazing and that she can see why Swift’s music has touched so many people. “Her songs are identifiable and I think that’s what draws me to her music,” said Diandra.
“When I make music, it is more so for people to relate to and to cheer them up.”
Neeta Manishaa, 20, Anas Zakwan, 21 and Patrick Anohada, 28
Kedah seems to be buzzing with rock ‘n’ roll talent. After producing popular metal bands like Incarnation and Sepatu 69, the state has now brought us IamNEETA.
What started off as a bunch of friends jamming to Adele’s Rolling In The Deep has grown into an increasingly successful rock band with a very Paramore-esque vibe.
“We went to Anas’ house, recorded a song, uploaded its video and got a couple of hits. Then, people began asking for more videos,” said Neeta as she described their humble beginning in the band’s hometown of Sungai Petani.
It would seem as if they were fated for success from the very beginning. Lead vocalist Neeta didn’t even know she could sing till a couple of years ago, but she could already play the piano, violin, drums, guitar and trumpet.
Funnily enough, the band wasn’t even planning on naming itself IamNEETA – it was simply the name of its YouTube account and went with it since none of the members could decide on anything else.
When he’s not banging beats with his boys from local punk band One Buck Short, drummer Imran Ishak likes to be known as Narmi, the passionate singer-songwriter with a lot of good music to offer.
Having dabbled in the gigging scene, Narmi has great insight into the Malaysian music industry.
“It’s awesome. I think the scene is doing very well,” he said, after talking about the many open mic opportunities for aspiring musicians.
However, he explained that issues faced by local musicians run deep. Often, artistes are told what to do, instead of being given creative license.
“We need more support from bigger companies. Sometimes, the musicians are not seen as individuals and they end up doing less for themselves and more for the company. When this changes, I think the scene can improve.”
Unfortunately, Narmi has already been eliminated from Ride to Fame. Fortunately, you can still look out for his new album, slated for release in August, or catch him on tour in September.