Interview with Maha Jeffery

Maha Jeffery started off as a bedroom musician at the young age of 17… fast forward to the present day and he’s known for his electrifying showmanship coupled with powerful vocals. Cementing himself as the most distinguishable voice in the Malaysian music scene, Maha’s new offering ‘Daisy’ certainly lives up to expectations. Bringing you up to speed, Maha spent his multi-instrumental days sessioning for various acts in Malaysia but stepped into the spotlight on his own when he released his first single ‘Sleep’. He then fronted hard-hitting rock band, TMJB, playing venues all around South East Asia, and events for high profile multinational companies and celebrities. Maha is currently based in Camden, London. 

Introduce yourself (yourselves) and your hidden talent!

Howdy! I’m Maha Jeffery, a musician and producer all the way from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – currently based in Camden, London. I’ve been playing music ever since my dad bought me my first Fender Strat when I was 15 so that’d I’d stop getting into trouble and start spending time doing more productive things. Little did he know, this would pretty much be the cause of my (almost) unhealthy obsession with music. I also haven’t stopped getting into trouble. As for my hidden talent – I can play Careless Whisper (albeit really badly) on the recorder.

What’s your writing process like? Do you write the music or lyrics first?

I’m the kind of person that has over 100 Google Chrome tabs open at a time. It’s kinda weird but It helps me focus when I have to pay attention to a hundred things at a time. That goes the same for my writing process. But then again this is why I have hundreds of unfinished tracks on my hard disk.haha. However, I like to look at it as a pool of Lego’s that I can pick and pull as pieces that would fit into any new projects that I’m working on.

I try to write something everyday, whether it’s a beat or a song or just lyrics. What comes first really depends on my mood for the day, as well as the song itself. But what’s most important to me is that the song sounds good stripped down – with just my voice and an acoustic guitar or keys. A former bandmate once told me, “If it sounds good acoustic, then it’s a good song”. I still think of that everytime I’m writing something new.

What’s the music scene like where you are from?

It is insane! At least pre-covid. I was in the Malaysian scene for a good decade – since I was 17 and have been blessed to be able to play some awesome stages with brilliant musicians. Needless to say, I’ve seen and experienced some crazy stuff. I’ve ended up passed out on a venue’s rooftop, played a gig where our crowd almost caused the second floor of a venue to collapse, had one where the cops came in towards the end of our set and I ended up spending the better half of the night at the police station – and that’s just the stuff that I can remember. The Malaysian music scene is a melting pot of extremely talented musicians, songwriters and performers. I just wish it had more support so that more musicians can actually make a sustainable living playing music.

Tell MoggBlog viewers about your latest release! What’s the inspiration behind that?

Daisy is about finding solace in grief. It’s about seeking comfort in the loss of a loved one through the memories you had with them. I wrote this song for my girlfriend whose grandfather had recently passed at the time. It was never intended to be for me. It wasn’t until my own grandfather passed recently when I realised that maybe it was meant for me as well.

I think the weirdest thing about this song was that I came up with the idea for it while I was watching 2001: Space Odyssey for the first time. What a masterpiece. The specific scene was when HAL was being deactivated and you could see this sentient AI go through the 5 stages of grief as it was slowly being deactivated, having its mind being chipped away, piece by piece. When it finally got brought down to its basic functions, it was the ability for it to sing Daisy Bell – a little easter egg to when IBM made a computer sing for the first time in 1961. Hal 9000 sings Daisy

Give our listeners some music recommendations that we should check out!

B.R.U.N.O.M.A.R.S, A.N.D.E.R.S.O.N.P.A.A.K, Silk Sonic – An Evening With Silk Sonic (F… I’ve been playing this album on repeat for the past week and IT IS SUCH A VIBE. I honestly
never expected a collab between Anderson Paak and Bruno Mars and it still blows my mind
how well they gel together. Beautiful balance between listenability and being insanely musically
technical. Both of these guys are extremely talented musicians on their own. Don’t even get me started on the backing band.

Favourite song off the album: Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic – After Last Night w/ Thundercat & Bootsy [Officia… After Last Night (with Thundercat & Bootsy Collins)

This one is tough cause the entire album is just chef’s kiss but if you had a gun to my head and forced me to pick one, it’d be this one. I mean Silk Sonic on their own are already a force to be reckoned with but throw in two of the greatest bassists of all time into the mix? Musical genius.

C̲h̲ris C̲o̲r̲nell – Euphoria Morning (Full Album)

Chris Cornell is one of my favourite singers of all time. I’ve been practicing everyday for years to one day be able to reach his and Jeff Buckley’s vocal range for years.I even did a few tracks
from Soundgarden, Audioslave and Temple of the Dog for a tribute show in Malaysia when he passed away. This album just feels like comfort in sadness personified. Just like Chris was.

Favourite song off the album: Chris Cornell – When I’m Down – Troubadour, January 29 2010

Man just listen to Chris’ vocal range and tone on that chorus. Need I say more?

Takako Mamiya 間宮貴子 – Love Trip (Full Album) (1982)

I love how Japanese city-pop has made a massive resurgence 40 years after it first started. I
think the one song that kicked it off was Mariya Takeuchi’s Plastic Love. It’s been 36 years since it was released and they literally just dropped a music video for it. Crazy! This album takes the cake for me though. Whole thing just screams out 80s Japanese nightlife and just takes me back to a place I’ve never been and a time when I didn’t even exist. That’s some next level nostalgia.

Fun fact: Apparently Takako Mamiya was a pseudonym that the singer used. She literally dropped the best Japanese city-pop albums and just dropped off the face of the Earth. Even her label couldn’t find her!

Daft Punk ~ Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (2003)

This is one of my favourite albums of all time. I love concept albums that I can just listen the
whole way through. Something about a song flowing into another to weave a cohesive storyline
just speaks to me and I don’t think I can name another band that has made an entire damn
anime for their album. I swear everything Daft Punk touches turns to gold.

Favourite song off the album: Something About Us

This song is pretty much the most stripped back and underrated song off the entire album but I feel it’s the one that’s able to convey the most emotion. Sometimes less is more and this track really shows it.

Bonus: Daft Punk | Something About Us | Pomplamoose
Check out a cover of this song by Pomplamoose that I really dig.

Noh Salleh – Self Titled

Last one I swear. I would hit myself if I didn’t include this album. It’s a solo album by the singer (Noh) from one of Malaysia’s most beloved indie bands of the 20th century – Hujan (Malay for ‘Rain’). This album kept me company while I was homesick when I first moved to Oxford a few
years ago for uni. A beautifully written, composed and produced album which showcases the beauty of Malaysian music as a whole.

Favourite song off the album: Sarawak by Noh Salleh

I feel this song best encapsulates that 60s old school Malay sound. It’s a love letter to Sarawak
in East Malaysia where my mum’s side of the family is from. Really brings back a lot of good
memories from the times I would fly over to visit my grandparents and cousins.

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