When I first heard of Budak Pantai, my first thought was “What kind of name of a band is that?” Apparently, it is the name of a well-received A Cappella group in Singapore. Budak Pantai means Beach Boys in Malay. In my mind, I conjured the image of a group of young male singers in black suits, harmonizing to classic songs. On and off, I heard of some friends going for their concerts, but somehow I never made it to one.

One fine day, by a stroke of opportunity, I finally caught them live at the Esplanade outdoor theatre. There before me was a group of surprisingly middle-aged men. Questions started forming in my head, “Beach Boys? Where did that came from? A Capella? What’s a guitar doing there?”

What caught me by surprise was that just within minutes, they had me smiling, giggling then laughing… and soon close to ROFL-ing. It is difficult to categorize their genre of music. It’s a mix of stand-up comedy, singing and acting. They take popular songs from different genres and languages, rip it apart and add their own interpretations and stories. In short, irreverent Asian mash-up parodies. I love how they’re unafraid to poke fun at the Singaporean culture (Singaporeans can be so serious sometimes). Later, I found out that they’ve performed in many cities including Tokyo and Mumbai, and shared the stage with stars like Stephanie Sun and sung at many national events. Not bad at all!

Among my favourites Budak Pantai songs are their self written song Why Men have Nipples (who would have thought of that for a song topic?), a remix of a famous Hokkien song Ai Pia Zai Eh Yah, and a solitary line from Justin Bieber’s Baby.

YouTube videos don’t do the band justice, and they’re best experienced live.

I managed to snatch an interview with the band. Here’s what they had to say:

Bands break up all the time. How did you guys manage to stay together for 15 years?

Budak Pantai: Either we are incredibly tolerant or need this hobby so much that we are willing to overlook everything. Honestly, like most groups, we had our fair share of disagreements and fallouts. But unlike most groups, we have God on our side. For us, it’s not so much about the music but how much we enjoy making it.

What’s one thing that has never been revealed in any interview?

BP: Our (true) age!

Well, whatever their real ages, it's clear to see that they're kids at heart.

How does the creative process happen?

BP: It used to be chicken rice. We sat around the dinner table after work and while eating our chicken rice, we would throw ideas and build on them from there. These days, we have ‘upgraded’ to pizza and steamed fish.

What is the band’s unanimously favourite song in the repertoire and why so?

BP: We do not have ONE favourite song. We tend to have seasonal favourites. Our current favourite song is the Hokkien classic ‘Jiu Gang Tang Buay Bo’, which we mash with Lady GaGa’s ‘Bad Romance’.

Who is the band’s unanimous favourite or most disliked band?

BP: You must understand that all 5 of us in Budak listen to different genres of music. Some of us don’t even listen to music! For example, Danny listens to the BBC World Service (period). But we do not have any unanimous favourite or most disliked artistes.

What’s the one thing you would like to bring your audience?

BP: We don’t have great voices, we don’t look good and we certainly cannot breakdance! So we are intrigued that the people who like our music are aged between 10 and 70 years. We like to think we don’t take our music too seriously. Perhaps that’s why we always come across as having fun and this fun rubs off on our audience as well.

Except, they're very, very serious about music. Extremely serious. Seriously.

So…where can we listen or buy music? Where can we catch you live?

BP: So far, we have released 6 CDs of our own and guest appeared on several compilation CDs. Our later CDs are being sold at the Esplanade Shop. Our songs are currently not available for sale on the Internet although this may change soon. You can also watch us on Youtube, which features some of our many public performances.

For more details of their live performances, check out their Facebook Page:  http://www.facebook.com/budakpantai

- Jael Chng

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