PETALING JAYA: History has seen its fair share of famous sibling pairs. The Brothers Grimm wrote and compiled their renowned tales together.
The Wright Brothers conducted the first successful manned flight of an aeroplane. The Lumiere Brothers are considered history’s earliest film makers.
And here in Malaysia, the Abu Bakar brothers are bound to make waves, though in two completely different fields.
The elder of the brothers, Ariff, better known by his stage name Ariff AB is a man of musical talents who has quite the international following. His Spanish fans call him, “The Marvellous”.
Strangely enough, his musical inclinations were not particularly noticeable when he was young since he was more into physical activities and sports.
However, a chance visit to his sister in Birmingham triggered a musical awakening in him, and his long-time love for poetry proved to be an asset in song-writing.
Describing his music genre as “alternative freak folk”, Ariff was discovered by Patrick Lyons, a New Musical Express (NME) award-winner who heard him on Soundcloud.
Patrick had a long-term plan and helped Ariff break into UK’s music industry.
He was then signed by Decca Records, home to legends Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones, because of his unique guitar plucking style, something Ariff perfected and which has since become his trademark.
Impressively enough, Ariff was offered a chance to compete in UK’s The Voice 2014.
While he turned down the opportunity because of visa complications, he did make influential connections with people in the industry, particularly BBC radio.
He has been in the music industry for over 10 years and most of his experience comes from outside Malaysia.
“It is challenging to break away from your own country and try to make it internationally,” says the singer.
His target is not to sell millions of albums but to live honestly and happily first. “Do something that makes you happy first, the money will follow eventually,” he says.
Speaking about performing for his fans, Ariff tells FMT, “I feel alive when I’m on stage playing for people. When I feel the audience’s energy, I get an adrenaline rush. I’m excited and feel alive.”
Despite these highs on stage, Ariff still deals with stage fright every time he performs. He has however found a unique way around that – he literally throws up before every performance.
Once that ritual is over with, he’s a completely different man. With his trademark sunglasses, he feels like he can take on the world. He calls it putting on his “game face”.
His most memorable achievement was making it to the Top 10 in the Young Malaysian International Achiever Awards.
Another milestone was when France Tourism picked his song “Paris, I’m in Love” as the official song for their campaign. This achievement got him noticed by new audiences across France and Europe.
He is currently working on his third album after the success of “Transmission” and “Blue Skeleton”.
When he’s not performing, Ariff manages a champion boxer – his younger brother Aiman.
The tight bond the brothers share is evident despite both pursuing different careers.
Like his older brother, Aiman initially seemed destined for a career in fields other than the one he would ultimately choose.
He had admired boxers from a young age, with his mother being a big fan of the late Muhammad Ali.
Aiman sees boxers as more than just sportsmen. “A symbol, they inspire people. They are there to represent, to motivate their people. I think this is why I want to be a professional boxer, because I see them as super heroes.”
An athletic child, he would have gone into boxing earlier had the sport been bigger in Malaysia. So he did the next best thing and set his sights on football instead.
However, his first love was never forgotten and as his footballer’s contract drew closer to expiry, he decided to train full-time as a boxer.
His big break came last year when he was selected to fight in the undercard in a match between Filipino legend, Manny Pacquaio and Lucas Miatisse.
Aiman has nothing but praise for Pacquaio, describing him as a God-loving and humble man who likes nothing more than communal peace and giving back to society.
He also feels that there is a great misconception among Malaysians about the nature of boxing being a dangerous sport.
“There’s a reason why they call it the sweet science. It’s a sport which has been called the ultimate sport among all sports.”
He says that there is more to boxing than exchanging punches; the preparation is hard and outsmarting one’s opponents through the use of guile is instrumental in ensuring victory.
However, Aiman admits that entering the boxing ring requires no small number of sacrifices.
Participation in the sport guarantees a fair share of danger and the amount of mental and physical preparation required means that time with family and friends is somewhat limited.
As for what the future entails, Aiman asserts that the sport has much potential to blossom in Malaysia, and consequently, produce icons that will inspire and motivate all Malaysians.
For now, Aiman will be preparing for the next fight and hopefully, set the stepping stones for him to achieve his lifetime goal of sparring against Mexican boxer, Oscar Valdez, and being ranked among the world champions just like his childhood heroes.