Ever since he fell in love with music as a little boy, prompting him to post his covers online, Aziz Harun’s name has since been synonymous with the popular music scene not only in Brunei but also internationally.
“It all started when I was eight years old, with my first YouTube cover. I did it to inform my sisters, who were studying abroad, of my growing love for guitar and singing,” Aziz said in an interview.
“I joined Bintang Kecil in 2009 and won which fueled the fire. I would say it got me the attention of local singers and the public,” he recalls.
Now 23, Aziz credits his self-penned debut single, Peace and Harmony, with breaking through 12 years ago; a song that was heavily influenced by singer-songwriter Jason Mraz.
“It was my first local hit. I remember it well because I was invited to shows where I fell in love with showbiz, interacting with a crowd and hearing them sing my songs,” said Aziz said.
“I had the chance to break into the Malaysian music scene with my song Senyum, produced by Mike Chan and Faizal Tahir. I wasn’t sure what that song had in store for me, but it started me on a journey that I’m still on today,” he added.
When asked about his music, the singer described his sound as easy listening and pop with feel-good elements.
“Musically, I think I’ve always been more guitar-driven with minor jazz chords that I’ve borrowed from Indonesian pop music and Jason Mraz – a style that I hope s addressed to all ears.”
Fast forward to today and Aziz now has 11 singles under his belt, the most recent being Can. “Can is a song we’ve been sitting on for quite a while. Due to the pandemic, we had to postpone its release as we felt the song should get the promotional efforts it deserves. My first walk Yah was a statement that I grew up. Somehow it keeps me from going back to making songs like Senyum and Jangan.
He added, “Kan was the result of that change. Musically, it’s a bright and upbeat track, much like my songs before. But I would say that producer and co-writer Ezra Kong was more meticulous with the sounds and instruments used, allowing the song to fit well in this era and era, where production is a bit more complex.
“In contrast, the lyrics, co-written by Romeo, carry a rather sad tone about hope in the early stages of a relationship; the possibility of being misled, false feelings and unreciprocated gestures. I wanted the song to be relevant to young adults who feel or have felt this kind of insecurity, and that it’s normal, and sometimes raises the question, Kau katakan ya, kau katakan tidak? (Are you saying yes, or are you saying no?).
The latest single is accompanied by a music video that uses clever shots to induce a comedic twist. It can be interpreted in many ways, which the singer said he will leave to viewers to decide.
Being a young talent with years of experience under his belt, Aziz believes he learned a lot in the business.
“I have grown up, so I feel like I have to put my foot down and say this is the journey I will go on, which may not be the conventional path for a Bruneian. But I hope to lead by example, just like my Brunei singer friend Jaz in Indonesia, who showed that it is possible to make a career out of something you love,” he said. “I love music and I love what I do when I get the chance. Pursuing music gives me more of a chance to do what I love.
Few people take advantage of the opportunities that have been given to me, so for me to quit and not make the best of it would be very stupid. With success comes challenges and Aziz admitted to facing some of them himself.
“The rapid growth of new social media platforms, such as TikTok, has challenged me the most.
“The type of content being produced these days is shorter and in a more ‘catchy’ way than the three-minute cover videos I’m used to.
“I’ve been posting covers for a long time and the music is mostly what I share with my fans. But these days, to grow as an artist, you have to be willing to share a little more and that’s something I’m still learning.
Hailing from a country where singers rarely penetrate other parts of the Malay world, Aziz hopes to bring attention to other Brunei musicians and artists.
“Above all, I hope to change the perception that music can only be done part-time. I want to show that it is possible to make a career out of it.
When asked if he had any advice for budding musicians, he replied, “Keep going. You can do whatever you want. Keep practicing. Change is inevitable, so learn to adapt.
Take advantage of social networks! Don’t think too much; just post!”
Aziz’s latest single Kan is available on all major streaming platforms such as YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music.