In Conversation With A Kid Named Rufus
1. What do you want our readers to know about you?
I am Malaysian, I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I love coffee and film cameras and thrifting and basically anything that has to do with indie/alternative culture. I am a cool person and I go to college!
What type of coffee though?
Lattes. I almost exclusively drink lattes. I drink my coffee with no sugar and no sweeteners, I like the taste of it.
2. How would you describe your music to people who have never heard of you?
I think it’s really optimistic indie pop music. The themes behind my songs are very meaningful but the sound is very happy and bubbly.
3. How long have you been in America?
This is my 8th month in America. I got here in February but I was supposed to come last August but everything got held back because of Covid. I was able to get my Visa towards the end of 2020 to come for the spring semester and I have been here ever since. And it’s so funny because now I am in a situation where Covid is pretty bad back home and they are so many travel restrictions in place so I can’t go back to Malaysia right now so I am stuck here. A year ago, it was the exact opposite.
Do you think being stuck in America is a blessing or a curse?
A blessing. There are definitely pros and cons, this is the longest I have been away from home and the first time I have lived alone for an extended period of time. I am in an entirely new country and have to set myself up and get used to living here. But, I’m also in New York, there are so many things to do and I have met so many people. I have had the opportunity to do in-person sessions and it’s been really good for me as a student and me wanting to get into music business as well as for me as an artist and it’s been pretty amazing. I am very fortunate that I am in Long Island and that I have family in Long Island which means that I am super close to the city.
4. What opportunities brought you here?
I’m here for school, I’m also here because this was the right move for me in terms of building my career as a musician and it was also a life goal of mine so it is like three things in one!
5. Was it hard to transition? How do the two places differ?
I have a list of things that are different in the states:
You drive on the wrong side of the road
Your stop lights are opposite
Healthcare has been confusing, I didn’t know how insurance worked until I got here, and I still don’t fully understand and it’s so annoying
EGGS! We never refrigerated my eggs when I was growing up because they were fresh, but over here, you do because of the way they prepare them.
I feel like I’m learning something new about this country every single day!
6. Tell us about the beginning of your musical journey. How did you start your passion for creating music?
I have definitely been creative when growing up. My mom got me into Indian fine arts when my sister and I were young. I was very into photography and video editing so I learned how to use the whole Adobe Suite when I was 13. I remember we had a guitar at home, I picked it up and started playing it and ended up teaching myself. Eventually, I learned how to produce, I was horrible at it but I developed the skills over time and was able to write, record, and produce my own songs. And the end of 2018, I had finished my first song and we released it in March of 2019 which kind of started my artist project. Then in the summer of 2019, I put out a song called “Useless”, and that got picked up by a bunch of playlists on Spotify and started getting traction really quickly. At the end of August, Alec Benjamin’s team reached out and asked me to open for him at his show in Singapore and so I did, which was super cool. Its been so fun, over time, my songwriting skills and the way that I have seen the world have changed and I feel like it has given me a wider perspective of things to talk and write about. I am in a really fun spot right now with my career where I get to kick back and make music and have people hear it.
7. Your music has changed since your first few singles to wasting time and things will be ok, what sparked that change?
Definitely a natural change. I was also getting to a point where I had two songs up and they performed really well and I was like “Ok cool, well then I have to follow up something that will perform as well”. I sat down with my friend and I wanted to write a sincere song. I was exploring smaller underground and indie-pop artists so I wanted to incorporate that style in some way. I really wanted to write songs like this because this is the type of shit that I like and the type of stuff that I wanted to hear, and I think thats what sparked my change. It was both natural and me stepping out of a writing block.
8. On a scale from 1-10, how excited are you about the EP? What does your EP mean to you?
Oh my god, I am going to do an 8 because it is really exciting seeing what everyone’s reactions are to the songs. I am relieved that it is coming out just because I put a lot of work into it. It is a very personal project. I wrote it in the middle of quarantine when a lot of things were going on in my life and I was not too sure about the future or school. In the middle of writing the EP, my grandfather passed away and I was going through one of the most mental health episodes of my life and I eventually got diagnosed with anxiety disorder. A lot of things changed for me and I think the 5 songs that are on it are a reflection of that. It’s nice to have it out and have people hear it. I am super proud of “graduation” and it’s by far one of my favorite pieces of work that I have ever made. The whole process of making it, engineering it, mixing it, finishing it, and the whole story behind it and how much shit I went through in the process just makes that whole thing one of a kind for me.
9. Why “graduation”?
I didn’t have a graduation in high school. It was right when the pandemic started and I thought graduation was a pretty good title because I never got one, so there is a little bit of a hidden meaning in that. These songs are about a really rough time in my life and I have sort of been able to cope with it and if you look at it, I sort of graduated from these experiences, and I’ve moved on.
10. What song do you favor the most on your upcoming EP? What meaning does it have to you?
My favorite song is “everybody’s fine but me” because it is about my depression and anxiety and I think it is the most sincere song I have ever written.
11. What is one question you want someone to ask you about your new EP? What is something you want our readers to know about the “behind the scenes”?
I put a lot of hard work into it and everything you have heard was written, produced, engineered, and recorded back home. It is such an important piece of work for me and I hope people will enjoy “graduation” just as much as I did making it!