PETALING JAYA, Oct 26 — When it comes to songs about love and heartbreak in the online sphere, alextbh is a true craftsman.
The Sarawak-born singer’s R&B-infused songs along with their lyrics about navigating love in cyberspace have earned him more than 10 million streams on Spotify.
That’s huge numbers from someone who has yet to hit a proper breakthrough in the local industry but during an interview with Malay Mail, alextbh, whose real name is Alex Bong, opened up about the creative process behind his most popular single, Stoop So Low.
It’s a song he crafted with mixed emotions, filled with mellow, laid back synths contrasted with brutally honest lyrics.
“I’m definitely a by-product of a DIY subculture. You just throw everything on the wall and see which one sticks, and Stoop So Low stuck.
“It’s always a learning process and I take pride in everything I put out,” he said.
The singer recently returned to the music scene with his latest single still mine, which chronicles the trials of long-distance relationships while retaining that indie pop edge which draws the fans to his music.
The music video itself indicates that behind his dreamy eyes lies an unexplored artistic talent, a video he said was meant to portray a “ticking time-bomb” relationship.
“I knew for a fact that nothing was going to happen. He was going to have to go back to the United States so this time around I know there was going to be an expiry date to our relationship.
“I was really frustrated following his narrative, so that’s what I wanted to portray in the music video,” he said.
Bong works independently and helms the production on all his music, a state which he admits has its fair share of perks and downsides.
“The good side (of being an independent artist) is that you can take time to learn and navigate through the industry without being tied down to an entity. I don’t have to be tethered to anybody but that’s also a double-edged sword because it means that you can be easily taken advantage of."
The challenges have not stopped him from scoring notable gigs here and across the border, coolly performing his hits at Urbanscapes 2017, Good Vibes Festival 2017 and St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival Singapore 2018.
His next should be his biggest yet as he was announced to open for Khalid at Urbanscapes 2018 on November 4.
The singer’s stage moniker combines his first name with the internet acronym “tbh”, which stands for “to be honest”, and it’s reflective of the raw, unadulterated narratives he puts forth in his music.
The 22-year-old artist, who is openly gay, is steadfast about using his platform to protect and champion the rights of the LGBT community in Malaysia.
He cited the death of teenager T. Nhaveen and the recent case of a transgender woman being beaten up by eight men in Negri Sembilan as reasons for him to make his music a political statement against injustices committed towards minorities.
“I wouldn’t want to bring forth my sexuality if people never put us under tyranny and endless amounts of oppression but here we are, with certain authorities being extremely discriminatory towards LGBT+ communities."
Bong hopes that by putting himself in the public eye, he can help others to embrace their identity regardless of the circumstances.
“I want young queer people out there who are still closeted to be inspired and to not be afraid and hide who they are, especially in this kind of climate right now," the electrical engineering graduate said.
Alextbh is set to perform as the opening act to Khalid this Nov 4 at KL Live as part of Urbanscapes 2018.
Malay Mail is the official media partner for creative arts festival Urbanscapes 2018, happening from November 3 to 18 across several venues in Kuala Lumpur.
Stay tuned to our Facebook Page for a chance to win tickets to Khalid Live in Malaysia, and Unlimited Grooves passes.
Winners will be announced in the Facebook post.