As is the case for many other Singaporean DJs and producers, the pandemic has been a period of sombre reflection for Doppelgangerz. Before that, it had been a triumphant phase for the duo of brothers, Fariz and Fazrin, who co-helm a musical project that buffs up the credibility of the local commercial scene.
Boasting glowing production quality and energies that soar like jetpacks, their past portfolio packs pop-conscious sensibilities that could very well put them on par with major label counterparts – from the future bass-tinted swagger of 'Take My Hand' to the vocal-heavy beat euphoria that runs through their Confessions EP. Doppelgangerz even scored a milestone gig at Singapore’s Legacy Festival in 2019, where they shared the stage with industry behemoths like Don Diablo and Tiësto. With bookings and releases, they’d been riding high on their wave of success. And then in early 2020, they abruptly took a hiatus.
Fast forward to March 2021, where the music scene’s continuing to find its rhythm amidst the persistent shutdown of parties, and it looks like Doppelgangerz have decided to rejoin the fray. Wrapping up their one-year hiatus with a renewed sense of optimism and vigour, the brothers are looking to the future with a string of singles scheduled for the year ahead, kicking off the momentum with comeback number, “RECOVERY”. It’s a composition that exudes a more mature, mellow disposition with its restrained tempo and tranquil elements, all without compromising their devotion to melodious detail.
But what inspired this transformation? And what was the impetus that pushed the brothers to come back, especially in a climate that’s more volatile than ever? Doppelgangerz drop what’s going on in their heads in this chat.
So first up, how does it feel to be back after a year-long hiatus?
It feels good to put music out again after taking a year off. It feels like we’re refreshed and ready to put out more new music!
What made you guys decide to take a break in the first place? And do you feel like you’ve settled what needed to be done?
Fazrin: We decided to take a break because we realised that our old sound was generic and, to be honest, we needed to improve on our production and try to be different from everyone else. I feel like we’ve improved on our production and now have a clearer vision, and are excited to share our new tracks in the coming months!
Your comeback track, “RECOVERY”, flaunts a more placid, downtempo temperament compared to your previous tracks. What made the two of you explore this deeper direction?
We made this track during the Circuit Breaker [the lockdown period in Singapore] and it kinda reflects the sombre mood that we were both in. We had several gigs and festivals cancelled due to the pandemic and wanted to express ourselves with our music. It’s also nice to put out melodic stuff once in a while that’s easy to listen to!
How do you feel the EDM trends compare then (pre-hiatus) to how they are today? And have these influenced the way you approach your upcoming tracks?
Fazrin: With clubs closed, I think more artistes are saving their club bangers for later. Music releases nowadays are easier to listen to. But this didn't influence our approach with our upcoming releases because we had already decided to produce slower and softer songs a year ago.
What can you share about the tracks you’re scheduled to release later this year?
Fariz: A deeper, melodic sound. We’re saving the festival weapons for when clubs reopen again.
As brothers, would you say there’s an unspoken connection and understanding when y’all pump things out in the studio?
Fazrin: Most of the time, we would know right away if the track has potential. No tension. We communicate.
Fariz: We have similar music tastes and there’s an unspoken connection when we’re in the studio. We've been used to doing things together since young. When we were both footballers, we would train together and help each other improve and honestly, there’s never been any sort of rivalry or tension.
Being so close, we reckon it’s sometimes tricky to keep personal and creative lives separate. Do y’all keep those far apart from each other?
Fazrin: Sometimes, we throw hot water from the kettle at each other.
Fariz: We communicate well with each other and have always been close. I think that’s what makes this duo work for us. Even our musical tastes are very similar.
How do the two of you split the work as Doppelgangerz? Is the workload between songwriting and publicity equally divided?
Fariz: My brother does most of the production work because he’s the musical genius in the duo. I occasionally give suggestions but he does most of the musical work! I handle our communications and also plan out our DJ sets for every show. When on decks, we usually freestyle our set. I’ll do the occasional trick or two and Faz will get on the mic because he’s more confident on it. I think that we’re a good team because Doppelgangerz is a space where we come together and share our individual strengths.
Can you tell us about any milestone gigs or residencies you had before the pandemic hit?
Fariz: Prior to the pandemic, a milestone was when we were booked to play at the main stage of Legacy Festival Singapore 2019 (feels like forever). It was the best moment for Doppelgangerz because we got to share the stage with our idols such as Don Diablo, Alok, and Tiësto. We even got to chat with them backstage!
Do you feel that the pandemic has changed the way you perceive success or progress as Doppelgangerz?
Fazrin: Definitely. Similarly to other artistes, I think everyone has doubts of being a DJ during this pandemic. However, we want to be known for our music just as much as being good DJs, so we're taking this time to improve on our production every day.
Fariz: I think that this pandemic sucks and every day that clubs remain closed is another day of growth that’s lost for artistes. Similar to footballers, DJs need to perform regularly to perfect their craft. The last time we played to a crowd was more than a year ago and that sucks. I think that success is relative and goals can change with time. What we’re focused on is being the best version of ourselves as possible and working on improving our music.
Fazrin: I am happy because I see people trying. I see DJs learning how to produce and I see the community coming together and helping one another. I learn many things from other producer friends and this is extremely important because if we don't help each other, who will?
Fariz: Definitely agree with my brother’s take. It’s nice to see producers helping each other to grow and we need to help each other if we want to succeed. Having beef with each other only distracts us all from the common goal.
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