Taufik reaches out to Malaysia

Taufik reaches out to Malaysia

A decade after winning Singapore Idol, singer-songwriter Taufik Batisah's music career is at the crossroads.

The 33-year-old may be the biggest name in the Malay music scene here, but he has yet to crack the much larger Malay music market in Malaysia.

Despite numerous radio hits and music awards, he has not become a household name there like Singapore- born artists Ramli Sarip and M. Nasir.

But that could change with his fifth and newest album. Taufik hopes that Fique, which contains a mix of ballads that he is best known for, as well as hip-hop and R&B sounds, will be his passport to fame and fortune in Malaysia.

Fique, named after the stage monicker he went by in the hip-hop scene here before his Idol days, comes six years after his last full-length release.

He says: "My previous album wasn't the strongest. We tried to promote it in Malaysia but there weren't any stand-out songs.

So I tried to understand why and I realised, "you got to work on your songwriting and arrangements, and try to improve".

"If you ask me what is my achievement level, I'd say it's 50 per cent. So I tell myself to keep working towards 100 per cent."

Speaking to Life! at his record label Hype Records' studio where he does many recordings, the 1.8m-tall singer is gregarious and in a good mood.

He is clearly excited about his latest release, playing several choice tunes over the speakers and adding that the mainstream-sounding ballads are included to help sell the album while the snazzier tunes were him letting his creativity run wild.

The 12 self- composed original tracks, as well as a cover of a song by his late uncle A. Ramlie, on the new album were culled from "hundreds of songs" he came up with since the release of 2008's Suria Hatiku (Voice Of My Heart).

In between the two albums, the singer with the trademark lush eyelashes released singles, including Sky's The Limit, an English duet with singer- actress Rui En which topped local radio station 987FM's charts in 2012, and a duet with Indonesia singer Rossa, Aku Bersahaja, which won Best Song Collaboration at Malay awards show Anugerah Planet Muzik in the same year.

He also made his live acting debut in Dick Lee's Fried Rice Paradise - The Musical in 2010 and recorded a 2011 Hari Raya album, Kenangan Di Hari Raya, with second Singapore Idol winner Hady Mirza.

The president of Perkamus, the association of Malay singers, composers and professional musicians, Mr Yusnor Ef, says Taufik can become a marquee name in Malaysia.

The 77-year-old Cultural Medallion recipient adds: "Taufik has a good singing voice, a good sense of melody and he can write really good songs. But in the Malaysia market, just as anywhere else, talent alone will not guarantee success.

He has to find the right opportunities, do more shows and connect with the industry and media there."

Taufik, a Singapore Polytechnic graduate, is not unknown in Malaysia. Two of his songs, Sesuatu Janji and Aku Bersahaja, have charted in radio stations there.

Some of his songs have been used as soundtracks for Malaysian TV serials and he has sung at events such as the Gempak Astro Revo Concert in Johor Baru alongside Malaysian stars such as Amy Search and Malaysian Idol Jaclyn Victor.

That event drew a crowd of 60,000.

His 2005 debut album, Blessings, sold 36,000 copies and was tHe first local English album in a decade to go double platinum here, but it is in the Malay music scene that he has made his mark.

He has 11 Anugerah Planet Muzik awards and he scored endorsement deals with brands such as convenience store chain 7-11 and telecommunications company StarHub.

His wholesome appeal has seen him involved in campaigns such as the Government's recent Pioneer Generation Package scheme.

When he launched his new album at Woodlands mall Causeway Point two Sundays ago, he stayed back three hours after his performance to sign autographs and take pictures with fans, who call themselves Fiknatics.

His greatest appeal, says long-time fan Sharifah Hassan, who is in her 30s and works in the hotel industry, is his affable personality.

She says: "He is always engaging his fans through his songs, shows and on social media with constant updates. He never rejects a fan's request for a quick selfie before or after shows, or when you bump into him in public."

Indeed, Taufik's brother, Mustaffa Batisah, 34, a housing agent, says his family has learnt to put up with having the singer accede to fans' requests for pictures or autographs "without fail", whenever they go out in public together.

Taufik takes charge of his social media accounts himself. His Facebook page has 141,700 likes, his Instagram (taufikbatisah) has 66,000 followers and Twitter account has close to 69,000 followers.

A short video in which he asked his fans "Awak kat mana?" (Where are you?) recently went viral and became the inspiration of the first single, #awakkatmane, off his new album.

He is reticent when asked if he is in a serious relationship and would only say that he has a special friend that he has known for a while now.

Marriage, he says, is not on the cards anytime soon.

"When the time is right, I'll announce it. But for now, I don't have plans and the focus is to stabilise my career," he adds.

The youngest of three sons, he lives with his mother, Normainah Bachok, a former cleaner who is retired, in an HDB apartment in the west of Singapore.

Singapore Idol fans know how much of a mummy's boy he is. After being crowned the winner at the 2004 competition, he turned to the camera and said on live television: "Sayang, Mak" (I love you, Mum) before blowing her a kiss.

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