Artists / Bands, Interviews, Releases, Rock — October 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Interview: The Great Spy Experiment (SG)


In the greying margins of pop-based indie and new-age rock, many bands find it hard to remain afloat among the masses of like-minded, similar-sounding music-makers from across the globe. Luckily, post-pop aficionados Fandy Ruzak, Khairyl Hashim, Magdelene Han and Saiful Idris of The Great Spy Experiment do not fall into this category. Harnessing elements of pop sensibility and an integrated knowledge of irresistible dance-floor-filling beats, the unprecedented success of The Great Spy Experiment’s addictive, modern melodies, created “with the dancefloor in mind, and the bedroom in heart,” has catapaulted the quintet from modest quiet achievers, to playing and creating among Singapore’s indie elite.

Describe your perfect dinner date with an inspirational musician or band – Dead or Alive.
Fandy: Ringo Starr. I’d first give him a hug, buy him a drink and then ask, “Did you feel like quitting The Beatles at any point in time? If so, what made you change your mind? If you did leave the band, would you forever live in regret?”
Saiful: Paul Banks. I’d ask “Who broke you?” and thank him for speaking directly to my inner being.
Magdelene: Billy Corgon. First, I would get a picture with him, which did not happen the last time I saw him back-stage. His bodyguard was with him and Billy just said, “Not now.” That disappointment has stayed with me until this very day – I must get proper closure to that incident!! (Laughs). I grew up listening to the Smashing Pumpkins…but I’d probably have too many questions for him.

Where have you guys been recently?
Saiful: We’ve been locked in the studio, working on our second album. Otherwise, riding the tsunami that is life.

How would you describe your sound as it is now, and how has it changed since you started the band?
Fandy: I feel it’s the nature of today’s musicians. We’re so exposed to the sounds of the world more than ever before, it’s become natural for our music to sound like a little bit of this and a little bit of that. As we’ve grown older, I feel our sound has grown with us. We give our music a lot more thought now, and we feel it when we hear the recorded tracks. There’s definitely more feel, character and honesty.
Magdelene: I agree with Fandy, our sound has “mellowed” as we have “aged”. The upcoming album really showcases another side of GSE.

Describe the best and worst attributes of each band member…
Fandy: Saiful is a genius; a talented boy, that one. He’s got everything so figured out, that sometimes being momentarily average annoys him. Having played with him since we were 14, I used to not ‘get’ him. But age slows us down and makes us see life from a different perspective. I now love him like a fat kid loves cake. Khai is stylish and daring. He’s my go-to guy for what look is ‘in’ now and what’s coming ahead. On stage I love the chemistry between us. But he’s such a worrier that sometimes it gets the better of him. It’s endearing. We tease him all the time. Mag is like the older sister I never had. She’s patient, organized and she’s got a spirit stronger than steel. However, she hides behind her husband too much. Song is passionate. He believes in his music. He’s just girlish at times.
Saiful: And Fandy is the heart and soul of the band. And everything else that he does.
Magdelene: Saiful has the brains, Fandy has the soul, Song has the charm and Khai has the muscles.

Best and worst performing experience? Why?
Saiful: Sport B Festival in Taipei in 2009. Everything about the show was great. As for the worst, it’s hard to pick one. There’ve been a few where the crowd just stood and watched, with arms crossed. Painful stuff. I’ve slowly resigned the worst ones to the deepest recesses of my mind.
Magdelene: The best performing experience is one where the band has tons of fun on stage, regardless of hiccups or mistakes – and there are tons of people dancing to our songs in the crowd. We had a lot of fun travelling to Texas and performing. It was tough to be on the road and having little sleep, but thinking back, I miss those times with the band. I want to do it all over again!!

A bit of advice to budding musicians who have seen you guys performing live?
Fandy: Love your band-mates and your music will flourish.
Saiful: Love. Full stop.
Magdelene: Faith. Love. Patience. Passion. Dance.


Catch The Great Spy Experiment performing in the UpToTheSky Festival, held 3rd December in Singapore, and on the SEA Absolute Indie Compilation, available on iTunes, Amazon, Ganxy, and more digital platforms!


By Stephanie Winkler