PAPERPLANE Pursuit — comprising John Oomen (vocals, keyboard & guitar), Andrew Yap (drums & percussion) and Isaac Ravi (guitar) — is a Malaysian pop-rock band. They gained prominence after their singles such as Beat of Your Love, Higher and Feel Good received heavy airplay on the local radio stations. The Rakyat Post catches up with the group that’s gaining a lot a ground in the local music scene.
Q: How did you start?
A: (answered by John): Andrew and I went to school together. We’ve been playing together for about a year. So we used to be named ‘Silent Scream’ and we managed to produce an album in 2005. There were different members, we did a lot of shows and then we took a break. We decided to start afresh and in 2009 renamed ourselves Paperplane Pursuit. Isaac officially joined in 2011.
Q: How many albums have PaperPlane pursuit released and what bands have influenced you the most?
A: We pay a lot of attention to music that is current such as the songs in the top 40 charts. It’s an intentional strategy to make radio-friendly music and we collaborate according to individual strengths.
John: I listen to Michael Jackson, Queen, and the newer stuff will be Bruno M
Andrew: I don’t listen to much radio nowadays. I like songs with good drum works which makes my choice eclectic. I listen to a lot of old school stuff like Toto and Keith Urban. I also listen to a lot of metal music when I was younger.
Isaac: I love guitar music…and more hippie stuff Arctic Monkey and Foo Fighters.
Q: You were under Reshmonu’s label. Would you consider that to be your group’s turning point in music?
A: No, that was long ago, around 2002, when we were still a group called ‘Silent Scream’, but it was a good time. We learned a lot of stuff from Reshmonu as well and he is much better at production nowadays. That experience was like a seed. We didn’t know what was going to happen, not many people knew ‘Silent Scream’ and not much came out of it. In the same way a person find a seed, they don’t see the tree coming out immediately. Now many years later, we see the result. Today a lot of what we have reaped is sown during those times. We learned a lot about the music business, publicity and marketing. Now, due to the publicity we get, people assume we’re signed with a big label. But maybe it’s partly due to our social media visibility and if fans interact with the group on social media it is definitely us that they’re interacting with.
Q: At what point did you, as musicians, feel that you are tasting the fruit of your success?
A: We hope to never feel that we’ve arrived. The feeling of arriving is dangerous because you can get complacent. But we’re not sure we’ll ever feel like that. But maybe there are smaller milestones , such as playing a gig and seeing your audience singing along to your song, or when the country’s biggest radio station plays our song every two hours.
Q: A lot of people are surprised to find, after hearing your songs, that you guys are actually a local band. What do you think of such reactions?
A: Interestingly we know people mean this as a compliment but we’re actually unhappy about it. We’re sad that people think it’s surprising that something good isn’t local. It’s not just something that affects the music scene. It is a mindset where people have very little pride in homegrown stuff. But things are changing now because WE feel that things are very different from what it was 10 years ago; people are much more inclined to support something that’s homegrown. But the ‘surprised’ mindset is still there.
Q: Are you working on any new materials and when can fans expect to hear it?
A: We are targeting for our new single release in June and it is part of a new album we’re working on as well …the next important milestone we’re hoping to achieve is making it outside of Malaysia.
Q:And how will the group do that? Will it include collaborations with big names?
A: We can’t reveal details yet but we want to keep it local for now.