We had a chat with Sasi the Don, a Reggae musician striving to spread happiness around the world. Here’s the latest on his career.
1.Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you aspire to do with your music?
So, I come from Malaysia and, you know, I’ve lived all my life here. I spent a bit of time traveling. I spent a bit of time staying in Mumbai. At one point, I have a very strong advertising background. I worked with multiple agencies. And, you know, I’m always been in the creative fields and always doing creative stuff at home for clients and all that. And music has been with me since my university days. I recorded my first album when I was in university.
When I graduated, I recorded my second album and it just progressed. I’ve got six albums with me till date and also with the whole process of being in the industry for 20 years. Right now, I’ve made about 120 songs. This includes my own songs and also involved in collaborations with other artists being featured on these songs. And, you know, and stuff like that. I am proud to say I am I love to always think of new innovations. And, you know, I always like to create new things, try new things, take challenges.
You know, if something feels I like to come back and, you know, and try again and again. And I think that’s what keeps me going. And I love to use my music as a tool to bridge the world. It’s just not about me crossing over out of Malaysia to market my music in India. It’s about bringing two countries together. All right. So, I look at things on a larger scale. And I believe that just like how politics can either break or make the world.
I feel that music has more power, potential to bring the world together and closer. So, yeah, that’s what it is. And what I aspire to do in my music, I want to make people happy. I want to give people hope. I want to tell people that you can do more in life. You know, it’s just not just your nine to five job. You can always work on your passion. And, you know, you can always do something for your dreams and make them big. You know, nobody just wants to leave an ordinary journey. You want to make it more meaningful. So, to me, that’s what I hope my music will do for me and also help others rekindle the you know, their journey here.
Sasi the Don
2.Why did you choose Father’s Day as the focus of your music?
Well, I’ve it’s not that I chose Father’s Day. I just felt that it came about at the right time, because as I sit Daddy don with a song that I wanted to release in many occasions in my life, including my birthday, Bob Marley’s birthday, there was always a story there was trying to curate it.
But when when this whole pandemic hit the world, I just felt that while a lot of people, you know, are probably feeling the pinch, going through a sense of trouble, uncertainty, confused, depressed, and I just wanted to change that mood, you know, and I saw that happening in the week of the release of the song. You know, everyone just forgot about everything. And they were talking about the song. They were sharing the song.
They were appreciating it. And I just felt that that was what I probably had to do. You know, I did not intend, I did not know what would people stick beyond the song. But everyone started loving it. And I think I did it sincerely, you know, and it just worked. Being a father myself, sometimes I understand other fathers. And I do know that, you know, this little gestures do bring make a big difference.
3.Reggae is not the most popular style of music in India. What inspired you to choose a more original route than most artists?
Thank you. Reggae is a form of music that is probably the genre, not very popular in the whole wide world, you know, but it is appreciated. It is accepted and it is welcome. Anybody welcomes reggae. Nobody will say, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Nobody does that. Everybody will appreciate reggae. Why? Because they know reggae is about happiness, spreading love.
Bob Marley is an iconic name that you know who represents. He’s like the father to us. You know, our Daddy Don, in reggae music. And I think Bob has already set the mark for us across the globe. And that is why reggae artists across the globe are very much united.
I will share a video with you through Mansi, something that I put together for Father’s Day, where I got about 30 celebrities from around the world, mostly reggae artists coming together to speak about Father’s Day and wishing fathers around the world. I called it the Father’s Day festival of Vicious Things.
It’s a video that I put up on YouTube and a wide range of artists there. And I think very important for you to do so and for us to understand here is not just in India, but I think everywhere. But there is always hope. You know, I believe that in 1993, when reggae was probably not even popular as it is now in India, Apache Indian made a break. He just knew his sound of reggae was unique to the world, you know? And that’s the way it has to be. And that’s the same thing I do.
So, I have my own sound and I have my own concept when I put my reggae music together. I call it Asian dancehall because I believe that fusion and always giving room for other culture, being it Indian or Asian. Asian is so diversified. All right. Coming from Malaysia, I can probably represent the believe the Chinese and it kind of gives me a huge playground to experiment. A lab experiment lab in Southeast Asia to do experiments, all sorts of ethnicity in my music.
Sasi the Don
And that kind of like makes what I do different from probably reggae artist from Jamaica or from the States or even from the or even from Europe and the UK. I think that is where it also makes me unique. You know, in the songs I choose what I write about because life is different.
I see things the way I see things different from what others may see. You know, I like to see the world in total, you know. And I like to express that in my song. And I feel that by me doing by be pushing reggae music is only going to make me different from the majority because the majority is already doing what is popular. So, the competition among the majority is going to be larger. And so, I don’t want to waste time being in that pool of talents.
I mean, they’re all good, but it’s just that, you know, I’ve been in the industry for so long. And, you know, yes, India is new to me, but I’m bringing 20 years of experience with me as I walk into India. This experience is something that I want to share with my fellow friends. And music meets who I know in India. You know, we sit and talk about things we can do. Let’s collaborate. Let’s do this and that. Everything that we talk. You know, when I speak when I said out with my mates in either Chennai or Bangalore in in Mumbai or whenever we chat on the phone, we always talk about doing big things. And I think these sorts of ideas only come when you bring a whole lot of experience with you.
So, I’m glad that. You know, I have a niche and I want to take this forward. I want the Indian people in India to understand what started the Sasi Don and what it is all about. You know, popular music doesn’t mean it comes from America or from the U.K. or from Europe. No, not like that anymore. They know that if change the world is changing. You know, popular music comes from anywhere right now, just like Gangnam Style. All right. Nobody expected. But when he came out, it put Korea on the world map. South Korea in particular. So, I believe that the world has to be more open.
And I think that’s how India is moving forward there. You know, India has changed the listeners and they know the difference between Bollywood, Hollywood and independent music. There’s a huge growth in non-movie, movie music in India. You know, so many artists coming up. And it’s good and it’s good to see this. More should come up. You know, last time there was a trend where if you go if you come up with a pop album and you know, and you go and you get invited to sing in a movie, and then you never go back into your you know, your pop career, you know, that’s how it’s been. But if these days people start with movie, they come out and they don’t want to go back to movie, they just want to do their independent stuff. Yeah. So, that’s why I took my original route.
Sasi the Don
4.What is your favourite part of performing?
My favourite part of performing is the rehearsals. I think I love experimenting all my songs with different arrangement styles. You know, and I just like to make it sound happy. Every show I do, I just want people to be happy. And I want them to remember the night that they watched that we had done, because you don’t simply get to watch me perform.
That’s how it is in Malaysia, you know and that’s what I want to come to India, too. I’ve done shows in India, I’ve performed in Chennai, I’ve performed in Bombay. And I think I would love to do more, you know, to meet more people in India.
And my performance, it’s all about my singing style. You know, the different set of skills that I have in my vocals that that that I bring up during my life shows. And I love that. I also love performing with my DJ. You know, I don’t want a minus one track. And, you know, like a club show. I love to do that, too. I think it’s also quite fun.
And one of my other favourite part of performing is also seeing the fans happy. You know, they’re singing with you. They’re jumping. Right. I just miss those times now because, you know, the world’s going through something really crazy. And I hope this really changes.
5.Do you have a favourite track or song? Why?
I have many, many favourite tracks and I think one of my most favourite track in my life that will never fade away is Doctor Alban- It’s my life because, doctor Alban- it’s my life was well, it’s not the first song that I discovered Doctor Alban, you know. Growing up, I listened to a lot of music.
The first album I picked in my life was Doctor Alban Celo Africa, which then his song, Hello, Africa and NoCal was a worldwide hit, you know. And I was totally, totally, totally. Wow. Oh, my God. Who is this artist? Which then he moved to his second album, One Love, and the first song in One Love was It’s My Life. And when I heard it, I mean, wow, you know, that was my life. And, you know, everything you want to do in this world. Yes. There’s rules, those guidance days.
Sasi the Don
You need to embrace knowledge, et cetera, et cetera. But the most important thing you should not forget is you. It’s your life. If you were going to live your life, you know, all this can guidances at one point till you’re 18 or 21. After that, it’s your journey. And so, this song kind of put perspective in my life at the age of I think I was 12 or 13 and I’m not sure, no no, this album I was 14. So, can you imagine if that was in 1992 when that album came out?
That song came up. So, from that time to now, if you go on YouTube, you’ll still find remixes of It’s my life done by current DJs. Right. I think that song has been an anthem in many people’s lives. The lyrics motivates you, kicks you in the butt, wakes you up, Moves you, challenges you. Makes you think. And I think it’s a song that also helps reminds yourself all the time. You know, about yourself. So, yeah, I think it’s a it’s a very beautiful song. Dr. Alban- It’s my Life.
6.What does your music production process look like?
Oh, my music production process sometimes could be simple sometimes, but also be very, very complicated because I think a lot you know, I do a lot of research if I can be working on something now then in a week I might get interrupted by another idea saying that, oh, can I put this kind of a sound into this song and remove it, remove something, you know, all the kind of stuff.
I love experimenting. I think I have the time, the leisure to do it. And I work with a very, very good producer friend of mine who works with me on producing most of my songs. His name is Navigator from Malaysia. And, you know, and we work well, you know, the studio is there. The time is there. So, we experiment all sorts of things.
You know, we just try to have a lot of fun. I love coming up with baseline patterns and nothing comes up then navigator comes up with the drum patterns. I come up with a melody, write the lyrics, and form the idea together. So, it kind of all falls in place. And it is a perfect combination and not all the time it’s perfect. Yes, sometimes there is challenges and sometimes there is times where we go like, OK, this is not working, we’ve got to change, blah, blah, blah, you know, and see, I while I’m talking, leaving this message, I see a guy right to me.
Hi, I’m a songwriter from India. I like your song, Daddy Don, very much. Thanks for the music. Nice. You know, so I get all these kinds of messages that inspires me all the time from Malaysia, Dubai, Singapore, Indonesia, India, the U.K. So, they are fans, you know, they’re reggae music fans all over the world. And I think that’s very, very important to recognize, you know. And that’s how our production is.
Sasi the Don
7.Other than music, do you have any other passions?
Besides music, I love advertising. I love thinking. I love coming up with new creative ideas all the time. And and most of all is I also love spending time with my daughter. I love playing toys. I love making things with my daughter. So that’s the most beautiful thing. We love doing art. So, I do a lot of canvas painting. I’ve got some amazing pieces done with by myself or even with my daughter. And let me know if you need pictures of some of this painting. I can send it to you.
8.Any advice for aspiring artists in the industry?
Guys, we live in a huge place called Earth, there is so much of possibilities, right? We all have problems and we all go through issues at home, at work and today the world is facing problems. It’s just another day and this will pass.
I just want musicians around the globe to be positive, making music, keep that spirit going and the most important thing in whatever you do, whether you’re a musician or a lyricist, a singer or a performer, a producer, whatever. Always put some time aside to learn something and enlighten yourself with the knowledge in the music business.
We’re very lucky that we don’t have to go to the book stores, everything is online, the journals, the research papers, the books on Music business, everything is there, right? Start learning, start reading about it. It’s very important. It helps you, it puts you in place.
At the top, when you go to events and meet label people, music professionals, besides becoming a professional artist, you also become a businessman there in the music arena. So, that’s very important. So, that’s my advice. And keep making some good music. I love India and I want to see India soon.
Sasi the Don
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