PETALING JAYA: With Chinese New Year right around the corner, you expect traditional Chinese songs to blare everywhere.
No one really pays much attention to these festive tunes, but if you happen to catch a song by Colour of Voices, you might just stop in your tracks.
Established in 2014, Colour of Voices is a Malaysian A Capella group that has accrued multiple awards and performed at many events overseas.
The group members come from multiple ethnicities so their songs, including festive ones, are sung in multiple languages.
Led by 28-year-old beatboxer, Tuxbonic or Tux, the group consists of five other members with various individual talents.
Speaking to FMT, Tux, real name Jeffery Goh Choon Yik, explains that he had ambitions of being in the music industry since he was nine years old.
Colour of Voices is open to try any singing style
He is accomplished at beatboxing and playing the guitar, piano and drums. He also helps the group’s music arranger Jaswan and dabbles with editing and production software.
Asked what he enjoys most about being a musician, he says, “To me, it’s about the music itself. Music resonates with people.
When I feel the music, when I’m decoding and analysing everything and working on it; that’s the process I enjoy the most.”
Colour of Voices, he continues, is a contemporary A Capella group that is not limited to a specific singing style.
“We challenge ourselves to sing choir, classical, pop, rock, R&B, and also festive songs.”
Colour of Voices came about when he and nasyid singers Jaswan and Asnal first decided to collaborate.
The members come from diverse backgrounds
Prior to this, Tux featured his beatboxing and solo A Capella talents on his YouTube channel, enabling the duo to find him in the first place.
“Since then, I have never left the group. People come and go, but Asnal, Jaswan and I have been together from 2014 till now.”
While it is heart-breaking to see people leave, fresh talent is always ready to fill in the ranks.
“Later on, we found Joe at a Pentatonix concert. Pentatonix is a world famous A Capella band from the United States.
And then we met Ikhwan. Jaswan used to be his nasyid teacher and he roped him in.”
“The latest member is Krutika, whom we met in an A Capella night organised by the A Capella community in Kuala Lumpur.”
The group sings in English, Malay, Hindi, Tamil, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese and Korean.
Festive songs are apparently challenging to sing due to every song having its own signature vocal runs.
Tux explains that being the only Chinese in the group, he has quite the role to play when the group sings festive Chinese New Year songs.
“I will first select songs that everyone has heard before.”
The group members will then memorise the melody before deciding on how to perform their rendition of it.
Tux provides his group members with Romanised Chinese words for the lyrics. He will tell them what the song is about and what feelings the lyrics convey. It is important for the members to recite their lines repeatedly.
“Our pronunciation is not perfect, so we have to repeat it until we get it right.”
Colour of Voices sometimes finds it overwhelming to perform.
“No matter the kind of stage, we feel super nervous.” To remedy this, every group member is assigned their respective roles and duties.
Tux laments that language can sometimes blind people from noticing brilliant artistes.
There are many good ethnic singers and songs
“If I wasn’t in Colour of Voices, I wouldn’t know that there are so many good Malay songs, producers, mixing engineers, artistes and singers.”
“It’s strange as we all live in Kuala Lumpur, but we never touch each other’s musical stuff.”
The group’s work has not been a bed of roses with Tux’s family initially being somewhat apprehensive of his musical choice of career.
Other members of the group admit that some conservative family members did not approve of their singing festive songs of other ethnicities.
“We feel deeply that we aren’t doing anything wrong, and we trust ourselves on this.”
Tux says, “We’re a multiracial group, so we hope that you will cast stereotypes aside.”
“Do open your ears for nice A Capella and multilingual songs. Please open your ears and listen.”
For the members of Colour of Voices, every song and piece of music is worth a listen.