Syafiq Halid is a Singapore based electronic artist, sound designer and percussionist who has worked on various theater & dance performance productions. Being an Ableton Certified trainer, he teaches music production and is actively involved in university tours across Malaysia and Singapore helping spread knowledge regarding what today’s music technology has to offer.
Syafiq being the youngest in the family grew up listening to various kinds of music playing around him. His pre-teen years were spent listening to the popular alternative rock/metal bands at the time. Yet, nothing particularly inspiring him till this point. It was when he turned 13 that he came across the Djembe, during a school co-curricular activity. It was like love at first strike; He went on to be quite obsessed with traditional West-African music; putting a lot of time listening and learning their percussion grooves. He even attended a workshop conducted by a noted Percussionist Kelvin Kew in Singapore.
Syafiq yearned to be in a creative/music related field early on in his life. “I could not imagine myself learning something else apart from music.” he adds. He feels fortunate to have gotten admission in the Sonic Arts program at the Republic Polytechnic, a reputed institute in Singapore. It was here during his sound synthesis lectures covering sound design and synthesis techniques that he was introduced to Ableton Live. He admits, at first he was not very fond of the software’s unusual layout. But not long after, he had to help out a friend for her final year project which required background sound effects and music to be triggered real time for a theater performance. He found Live to be extremely handy for this application and this experience changed his outlook towards using it. Ever since he has been exploring creative possibilities for music and sound design with Live.
Gear and Live Setup
Syafiq currently works out of a MacBook Pro running Live with Push 2 as his primary MIDI Controller. He loves using the Push 2, as he finds it all round suitable to produce, perform and also achieve real-time sound designing for theatre work. He adds, “I am a minimal guy… I use a lot of plugins which keep my setup minimal and easy to travel with.”
Passion for Sound design & Music Making
Syafiq loves exploring and experimenting with sounds ever since he got into Live. He finds that it gives him innumerable approaches to sound designing. “I enjoy that element of surprise in the art of tweaking and meddling with sounds.” he adds. His own music has interesting sound design elements and percussive sounds; at times floating on top of ambient textures. While he has carved his own style drawing from his passion for world percussions, samplings, and electronic sound design; he is still experimenting and constantly redefining his music. Interestingly he likes layering unexpected & everchanging soundscapes unhinged from a fixed structure or duration.
Working with contemporary dance & theater groups
Syafiq discovered the beauty of making sound for contemporary theatre in 2014 when he worked with The Kaizen M.D, a multidisciplinary performing arts collective in Singapore. In 2018, He was the sound designer for NGOPI a contemporary 90 minute theater-dance production by P7:1SMA and also played a role as an actor. Recently, he contributed to a ‘work-in-progress’ multidisciplinary musical / theater production called ‘Night Walker’ by RuanAtWorkz – a social enterprise. Syafiq was also part of the Kaizen X Soundlab endeavor – a collaboration between musicians and visual artists, coming through with a conceptual audiovisual performance. The concept was about individual experiences that they could draw from a 24-hour workday, continuously broken into systematic periods, suggestive of a rhythm. He was one of the main electronic artists here. Links to some of his work can be found below.
Tips for contemporary theater performance collaborations.
All of Syafiq’s sets are designed in Live, involving a lot of real time triggering, clip launching and on-stage improvisations when necessary. “It is fun working in Session view as I can plan my live set carefully and also making room for the cast to improvise. unlike playing a fixed arrangement with a fixed count.” Syafiq also emphasizes the need to make space for the cast and narrative. Essentially, understanding that there are other elements like lights, dancers, sets and message of the piece which plays a vital role in the performance. “Hence, you should be careful and to not overdo with the sound. Less is more!” he points out.
On his recent music work : J.A.B -(Riduan Zalani) Remix
Syafiq recently worked with a prominent ethnic percussionist, Riduan Zalani and put up an uptempo remix of his song J.A.B. Riduan has been Syafiq’s long time mentor who recently had released his debut album called ‘Gelombunk’. The idea for the remix came up during a conversation with Riduan over coffee while casually discussing the album. “He [Riduan] taught me how to play various percussion instruments and I literally grew up following him to most of his gigs, as a drum tech. This remix is a form of gratitude and a surprise gift to him.” he adds.
Ableton Trainer Certification & Teaching Live
Syafiq has a passion for teaching, sharing and adding value to someone’s life. He never imagined he’d be teaching music production courses. But his love for creating and sharing conventional and unorthodox ideas on topics like beat making, sampling, editing techniques, working with effects and so on had him focus on teaching Ableton Live music production as a career choice. Syafiq was part of the Ableton Trainer Certification Program held in Hong Kong – 2016. He terms it “a nerve-wracking experience” and feels blessed and proud to be the first Certified Trainer in Singapore.The experience taught him to always be himself and play by his strengths.
Involvement with the Ableton University Tour :
Syafiq has been part of the team spearheading Ableton university tours in Malaysia and Singapore. The university tours are aimed at opening the world of music creation to college students. Syafiq was actively involved with product demo and engagement with students covering Ableton Live, Push 2 & interactive play using Link Technology. “You can see different students have their take-away during the artist talk and music deconstruction by different artists/bands. I thank Ableton and of course, my dear friend, Cee for having me for this education tour.”
Future plans & New Studio/Teaching Facility in Singapore:
“2019 is going to be different .. definitely about stepping out of my comfort zone.” After two years of being an Ableton Certified Trainer, Syafiq has decided to take his passion for music production and helping others up a notch. He is currently setting up a teaching facility to conduct private and group lessons. He is working out the Entrepreneurial end of things to realize his new endeavours. In line with this he’ll also be starting a vlog soon and sharing more content on social media. If you are in or around Singapore keen on learning how to write a song or make beats, get in touch with Syafiq to stay updated on his teaching plans!
You can check some of Syafiq’s work here –