Audionauts beat three Singapore idols

Audionauts, Malay rock quartet. The awesome foursome comprise of (from far left) Mohamed Rizal Mohamed Noor, Mohamad Zakie Mohamad, Mazron Nizam Ayub and Hishamuddin Abdul Rahman.

SINGAPORE - Home-grown Malay rock outfit Audionauts are having a good couple of months.

Last Friday, the quartet beat other local singers - including all three Singapore Idols, Taufik Batisah, Hady Mirza and Sezairi Sezali - to take home the Most Popular Singapore Artist accolade at Anugerah Planet Muzik, a regional Malay music awards show by MediaCorp radio stations RIA 89.7FM and Warna 94.2FM.

The win comes less than three weeks after they picked up the top local Malay pop award for their single Maha Bisa Rahsia (Great Secret) at the 18th annual Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (Compass) Awards.

Singer Mohamed Rizal Mohamed Noor, 33, says they are happy but "shocked" at winning both prizes.

"I did not think we would win the awards, especially the Anugerah Planet Muzik award. We were up against so many popular singers," he says.

The awards reflect the band's growing popularity. Winners of Anugerah Planet Muzik awards are decided by fan votes, while the Compass award win is based on royalty earnings.

Rizal attributes the success to their work ethics and penchant for engaging fans on social media.

The band, which also comprise drummer Hishamuddin Abdul Rahman, 34, guitarist Mazron Nizam Ayub, 31, and bassist Mohamad Zakie Mohamad, 35, make it a point to answer every message and post that they receive from fans. Sessionist Demi Heng Hui Min, 24, joins them on keyboards for live shows.

Adds Rizal, the band's primary lyricist: "I think fans appreciate it when they get a personal reply from any of us."

It is an extension of the band's do-it-yourself ethics. Audionauts are not signed to any record labels, save for a music distribution deal across the Causeway with Warner Music Malaysia.

The band, formed in 2004, went through several line-up changes before releasing their first single, Kisah Cintaku (Story Of My Love), in 2009.

The following year, their sophomore single, Pembunuh Cinta (Love Killer), spent 11 weeks in RIA 89.7FM's charts. Another song, Aku Asalmu (I Am Your Beginning), became the runner-up in local songwriting competition Projek Rentak.

Last year, the band released two singles: Fatamorgana, which spent more than 20 weeks in RIA 89.7FM's charts, and Compass winner Maha Bisa Rahsia. The music video for the latter has been aired on cable stations Astro Ria and Prima in Malaysia.

The band are currently recording new songs and will release them as an EP.

None of the band members are full-time musicians. Rizal, for example, works as a vocal teacher at music school Academy Of Rock, while Mazron is an engineer with Japanese electronics brand Mitsubishi.

Still, they are hopeful of turning the band into a full-time career if they manage to break into the Malaysian and Indonesian market.

Says Rizal: "Before that happens, we want to make sure that we can make a living off our music. We're not into writing one-hit wonders, we want to achieve long-term success with this band."

Winners of major awards at the Anugerah Planet Muzik:

Best Vocal (New Male Artist)
Cakra Khan (Indonesia) for Harus Terpisah

Best Vocal (New Female Artist)
Citra Scholastika (Indonesia) for Everybody Knew

Best Male Artist
Judika (Indonesia) for Aku Yang Tersakiti

Best Female Artist
Bunga Citra Lestari (Indonesia) for Cinta Sejati

Best Duo/Group
Hafiz & Datuk Siti Nurhaliza (Malaysia) for Muara Hati

Best Song (Regional)
Harus Terpisah by Cakra Khan (singer), Aldi Nada Permana (composer) and Aldi Nada Permana (lyricist)

Best Song (Singapore)
Jangan Ganggu Pacarku by Aliff Aziz (singer) and Panji Sakti (composer and lyricist)

Most Popular Singapore Artist

Most Popular Singapore Song
Untuk Dia by SleeQ featuring Najwa

Most Popular Regional Artist
Hafiz (Malaysia)

Planet Music Special Award
Black Dog Bone (Singapore)

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