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Life in the Fazz lane

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AFTER successfully touring Japan last year to spread its brand of music, quintet Fazz is back touring East Asia with South Korea being its first stop.

Last year, the band performed at the Haneda International Anime Music Festival in Tokyo and several locations in Japan. The reception was so good that Fazz decided to make the journey east again. Currently in South Korea, the band will next head to Yokohama and Roponggi.

“After our last tour in Tokyo, doors opened up for us,” said Fazz’s electric double bassist Raja Farouk Raja Zaini Ismail.

“In a way we actually secured this tour by ourselves. We contacted booking agents, found promoters, paid for our logistics using the band’s funds because being in Fazz is not that lucrative. But we enjoy performing and that’s what’s important.”

Initially the band tried to look for sponsors for its trip to South Korea and Japan, but nothing came to fruition.

“That is why we decided to pay everything by ourselves. The show must go on.”

Fazz founder Grace Cho admitted the band has not been performing much in Malaysia, leading to a collective decision to pursue the “Salam Dari Fazz” tour.

“We decided to give Japan a try again. And since South Korea is quite close, we also secured a few shows there,” said Cho, who hails from Seoul.

“In South Korea, we played at live houses and clubs so that we could connect with the audience.”

Farouk added that Fazz was portraying a cultural exchange as they aimed to show South Korea and Japan what Malaysian music was about.

“We are not signed with any recording companies nor are we interested to sign with any at the moment,” Farouk said.

“By doing this, we can prove that we don’t need to be with any label to get our music through to the masses.”

“It was a difficult process, but it was fun,” Cho added.

Fazz’s new vocalist Tan Yon Lynn said the band members really wanted this tour to happen and she was glad it did.

“Our music expands a lot of borders,” she said. “We have tried a lot of approaches and experimenting on the social media. We want to show everybody what Fazz is about.”

Fazz’s origins came from a
band competition.

Reality talent programmes might be the bane of serious musicians, but the contest Fazz took part in four years ago was at a night club in Petaling Jaya.

“We started the band in 2012 but it was just me and former bandmate Kevin Michael on vocals,” Cho said.

“Kevin was from the theatre scene and he had many ideas on what he wanted to deliver via music. He was recruiting friends to perform and he found me via a mutual friend.

“We started as a duo and thought along the way that maybe we could do more. We asked around and the next person we found was Farouk.”

Cho said although she studied music, she never thought of being in a band. Before Fazz, she taught music and also did translation work.

As for Farouk, he has been a performer since day one.

“I studied culinary in college but decided to pursue my interest in music. Cooking became my hobby while music is my career. I turned my hobby playing music into a career so that I don’t have to work a day in my life,” he said.

As a sessions musician, Farouk has worked with many names in the industry, the most notable being RTM’s head of orchestra Datuk Mokhzani Ismail.

Currently, Farouk also doubles up as the band’s music director.

“I’m happy to be performing everyday.”

The band rebranded itself earlier this year by adding two more permanent members — Tan on vocals and Jason Lim on the trombone.

“Lim is the latest member to represent the brass section,” Farouk said.

“We were so impressed by him that we made him the band’s brass section leader.”

Tan, who also works as an assistant producer with Media Prima, first sang with Fazz in March this year at Gigfairy.

“I have been singing for a long time. After Gigfairy, I decided to commit to Fazz full-time,” said the jovial Penangite.

“We have so many people calling our genre differently but we decided to call it musical pop,” said Cho.

“Apart from the five core members, we will sometimes have a band with eight to 11 people depending on the situation.”

Although it has been a tough journey so far, she said the band is determined to work with its resources to spread its unique genre of musical pop.