Written by: Ros Syafiqah Roslan
Who is Ariff AB? Who is he you might ask. Malaysians know Yuna and Zee Avi (Malaysian artists who made it big overseas). Majority of Malaysians haven’t heard of Ariff AB till now. With only a mere 222 subscribers on his Youtube channel and 267 followers on his Soundcloud page, he is however, an uprising Malaysian Indie singer/songwriter who is currently trying to make it big in London. Using Ariff AB as his stage name, he started his journey in singing and songwriting without having any experience or background in music. After he realized that there is no hope for him to be a sportsman, he then made a decision to jump into the music world. Ariff who usually performs with his dark glasses on; indoors or outdoors, says that as a shy person he wears dark glasses to make him feel less inhibited.
It all started when Ariff took part in a singer-songwriter competition in Kuala Lumpur in 2009. He failed at his first, second, third, and even his fourth attempt on winning the competition. That would be an indication to ‘STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING’ for some, but not for Ariff AB. He finally made it to the finals and won the competition at his fifth attempt by performing his first composition,‘Heart Train’. As a result of his victory, he received an invitation to perform internationally at the World Expo in Shanghai, China. Since then he performed internationally in countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand and in 2013, he went to the UK and became more exposed to the music industry there after he created his Soundcloud page. He gained more listeners when he released ‘Transmission’, a mini album that contains six tracks and uploaded one of his songs, ‘Bye Bye Baby’ onto Soundcloud which then became a hit.
Ariff AB describe his music genre as Alternative Indie Freak Folk. Freak Folk? Is there such genre? Apparently, there is! Freak Folk is a sub-genre of folk music in which its artists use mainly acoustic instruments but inject elements of avant-garde and psychedelic influences that produces uncommon sounds, lyrical themes, and vocal styles. ‘Rundown’, one of Ariff’s songs, made it on BBC Radio 1 and 2 and that was when he was contacted by Patrick Lyons, a New Musical Express (NME) award-winner. He became Ariff’s talent agent and pointed out which direction should Ariff take and managed to secure several gigs and radio interviews. As Ariff recalls in his interview with the New Strait Times,
“I had goosebumps when I heard Rundown on the radio”
This talented young man has rubbed shoulders with a circle of talented people by performing opening shows for Leanne Robinson, Russell Swallow, Kal Lavelle, and Fiona Bevan (she co-wrote ‘Little Things’ with Ed Sheeran).
Source: Secret Sessions.co.uk
His dark/mellow upbeat tunes and energetic showmanship on stage has earned him an invitation to perform at the Youtube-Google headquarters in London and made its mark in being the first Malaysian male singer/songwriter to perform there. Hard work and dedication is needed in the journey to seek fame as an independent artiste. As Ariff shares his experience and challenges in the UK with the Malay Mail, he said that;
“It’s not like when you are in the UK, you can feel relaxed and take it easy. The demand is always higher as a foreigner since priorities are given to the locals. So as a foreigner I needed to prove that I was better than them”
In 2016, this singer/songwriter signed with a British record label, Decca Records (a part of Universal Music Group). Decca Records, established in 1929, is a legendary British record label as it produces some of the greatest recording artists such as Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland and more. Ariff AB’s second album, ‘Blue Skeleton’, consisting of 11 tracks is published by Decca Records. What’s interesting is, even in the world of digital music, his first debut album ‘Transmission’ managed to hit 3000 copies sold! Two tracks from Ariff’s second album, ‘The Wolf’ and ‘Crazy Love’ was featured on ‘BBC Introducing’ playlist. Ariff mentioned in his interview with the Malay Mail that;
“I always wrote my songs based on life experience and observation on people around me, and with a mixture of pain and inspiration”
Source: Facebook, Maravilla Ariff AB
Ariff AB’s type of music is well-received in the UK and it’s proven when he was offered to do a UK tour for two months around England in which he played at different venues almost every day. He also performed at the Oxjam Islington 2016 festival. There is nowhere to go but up for Ariff AB. He could be the next Yuna in the music industry and make Malaysia proud. You can listen to Ariff AB songs here.