M'sian singer Resh sets sights beyond Asia
Malaysian singer Resh is setting his sights beyond Asia with a fresh new look, EP and record label
It's been 12 years since his foray into the music industry.
But it's only now that Malaysian singer Resh finally feels like he has "arrived".
This despite the fact that his debut English album Monumental (2003) earned the then-rookie seven Anugerah Industri Muzik nominations and three wins, including one for Best Male Vocals.
Beginner's luck had nothing to do with it, as his follow-up English effort Superfine (2007), his Malay album Harapan (2009) and Tamil album Ashtaka (2012) - as part of the Malaysian Indian quartet of the same name - were equally well-received.
Resh, 39, has set his sights on a regional and international takeover with his new EP Who Am I, released last month after signing a multilevel deal with Universal Music Singapore.
Now that his new single Half The Man has hit the airwaves in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and even the Philippines and has charted stateside, it is confirmation that his hard work is slowly paying off.
"I've always been an energetic person but this has given me renewed vigour, for sure," Resh, whose real name is Hiresh Haridas, told M when he was in town last week.
"I'm used to doing everything on my own, having stepped into a tough industry and battled the challenges alone. But now I feel that I have finally arrived."
Releasing an album under his own label, producing his music in his home studio and directing his music videos under his own video production company - that was what Resh used to do.
But working with a major music label like Universal Music Singapore now provides him with the "strong support structure" and resources he needs to further his career.
Mr Lim Teck Kheng, Universal Music Singapore's head of strategic development and A&R, said: "We represent Resh in his music content and take charge of artist representation... Resh is a well-established artist in Malaysia and we strongly believe that his music can definitely travel within and beyond Asia."
The father of three sons kicked off his plan by e-mailing several music producers in the US to work with him on Who Am I last year.
Little did he expect to hear from Jim Beanz the very next day.
Signed to top US producer Timbaland's Timbaland Productions, Beanz is the man behind the music in hit US music drama series, Empire.
He has produced songs for big names like Demi Lovato, Chris Brown, Britney Spears and Rihanna.
Resh made his way to Philadephia in the US for three weeks to work on eight tracks with Beanz. Six made it to his EP.
On his first encounter with Beanz, Resh said: "You walk into his studio and see his wall of fame, where there is not one, not two, but seven or eight gold plaques. Um, no biggie, right? Then there is Jim sitting in front of his console, all chill and zen.
"I told him, 'Forget what you have heard or have been briefed about me. This is a blank piece of paper and let's work together'.
"That was a great ice-breaker for us and we got to work, sometimes from noon to midnight without lunch. He is every bit the perfectionist I am, so I see a bit of him in myself."
That was not Resh's only attempt to get out of his comfort zone.
Following his US trip, he made his way to South Korea to film the music video for Half The Man, which features things being cut into half to reflect the theme of "halves".
REBRANDING: Malaysian singer Resh ditched his signature cornrows for a dapper quiff. PHOTO: UNIVERSAL MUSIC SINGAPORE
The first order of business when he landed was an appointment to see a hairstylist.
Gone were the trademark cornrows he had sported the last eight years, making way for a shorter, dapper quiff.
In line with his image overhaul, he dropped his former moniker, Reshmonu, and is now known as Resh.
"I've had long hair for 20 years. Cutting it was coincidentally a lingering thought that I have had for a while now. When I was in talks with the label about rebranding, I decided that was what I needed to seal the deal. Change is the only constant," he said.
It was a nerve-racking move that paid off.
Resh said: "It took a while to recognise myself in the mirror."
"With the old hair, I only attracted half the crowd. This look is 'friendlier' and that is important because this album is meant for the masses."
On working with a South Korean team for his MV, he said: "Their professionalism is amazing and they work fast with smiles always on their faces. My video was shot on an actual set where every prop - the book, the furniture, the wine glass - was cut or sawed into half...no tricks.
"In Malaysia, you have big ideas but people may tell you, 'Rilek (Malay slang for relax) lah brother, that is too forward'."
Looking ahead, Resh hopes for more opportunities to build a name for himself and perform on big stages in the region and hopefully, the US.
On his growing success, he said: "I haven't wrapped my heart around it yet. I'm trying not to get over-excited. I feel like I've paid my dues but there's so much to do still. I never believed in shortcuts anyway."
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