Photos: Tammi Tan
Video: Genice Ooi, Goh Wen Kai
Singapore Idol Season 3 winner Sezairi Sezali may have been born in the wrong decade.
“I wish I could have been a teenager in the 70’s,” said the 29-year-old in an interview with Toggle yesterday. “It was an era of so many new ideas – think about watching Star Wars on the big screen for the first time without knowing how spaceships looked like before!”
He added that the whole creative vibe of that period is something he can relate to, as he was pretty much weaned on the music of the 70’s and 80’s thanks to an audiophile dad. This is why it isn’t surprising that his latest single ‘70’s’, as well as his last one ‘Fire to the Floor’, sound like they fit right in with the tunes of that time.
“I’m not trying to tie [my songs] down to any particular era, but I personally love throwback music,” he clarified. “Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, all the earlier funk, disco-type stuff – that was the kind of music I grew up with.”
But of course, being a 90’s kid in actuality, Sezairi also “went the Westlife route,” and confessed to being a fan of the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and “all the other things people used to tell you were crap” (but he still loved them anyway). These days, however, he has a surprising guilty pleasure: meditative and classical music, which he uses to “refresh” his brain.
Listeners can also look forward to a music video for ‘70’s’ in the coming weeks, which Sezairi dubbed “one of the most fun music videos” he’s done (“It basically has people turning into cats”). And that’s not all: a new EP is potentially in the works, depending on his satisfaction with the quality of the songs he is or will be writing.
An acting gig in a Toggle Originals series is also in the pipeline, although he can’t divulge any more details. On the other hand, plans to start a family with his wife Syaza Qistina Tan, whom he married in January last year, won’t happen any time soon.
“I think to some extent, you need to go through certain things in life before becoming a parent,” he mused. “Not everyone gets to ready themselves [for kids], but I have that luxury, and I want to slowly discover what sort of father I’m going to be and how I want to raise my children in this weird world right now. (laughs)”
Read on as Sezairi tells us about life as a married man, his cool encounters with music megastars, and more:
Sezairi and his wife Syaza Qistina Tan (Photos: Sezairi/Facebook)
Toggle: ‘70’s’ and ‘Fire to the Floor’ are very dance-friendly tracks. Are you an avid clubber?
Sezairi: Not so much nowadays, but back when I was younger it used to be pretty nuts, but not like upside-down-and-I-don’t-remember-where-I-am nuts. These days I mainly go clubbing to meet and connect with people, less so to go crazy and party.
How’s married life so far?
I really like being married, man. You never truly know your partner until you get married. I think 90 percent of the things I know about my wife, I only learned over the past year, and we’ve been together for eight years!
What are some new things you’ve learned about yourself and your wife?
I always thought she needs a lot emotionally, but that’s not true: she just needs a specific kind of attention, and I’ve learned that particular way of how to react. For myself, I learned that I’m actually a very angry person! (laughs) I always thought I have a very calm demeanour, but I get angry quite easily in certain situations. However, I’ve also learned to react slower to things.
Has your wife already inspired some new songs?
Oh yes, a couple, starting with ‘70’s’, if I do say so. My wife is just the coolest; she’s an amazing human being who knows exactly what to say and what not to say, and sometimes I think it takes a toll on her, but that’s a relationship, right? Now that I’m thinking about it, it’s actually a lot of hard work, and I appreciate her more. (laughs)
You make it sound like you’re so difficult to be married to!
I am, right? (laughs) I’m actually not that hard to be married to, although I’m a pretty non-conventional guy. She has to schedule everything around me because my work is unscheduled. [So she’s been okay with it so far?] Yeah, for the past eight years, I guess! I’ve never actually asked. Maybe I should.
You mentioned that there are more things you want to do before having children. What’s on that bucket list?
I’ve always wanted to go to Korea, so I’m going in September for a holiday. I just want to travel more and perform more. [Any dream collaborations?] I’ve never really wanted to have big name collaborations, I mean, if they come, that’s great, but I think it’s awkward if I feel like I have to keep up.
What about local musicians?
There are a lot, such as Linying (we might start to write together soon) and Charlie Lim (I have a deep appreciation for his lyricism and we talk quite a lot). If the Sam Willows want me on one of their tracks I wouldn’t mind. (laughs)
Since you’re going to Korea, are there any K-pop artists you’d like to work with?
ShiGGa Shay once introduced me to Jay Park, and Jay was like, “Hey, I listen to your music and it’s pretty banging” but I was thinking, “Are you sure? Did someone ask you to say that?” Then, when I checked my phone, I found out that he had been following me on Instagram! I think he’s really cool, but I’d rather get to know someone first before coming up with something, I think that’s more meaningful.
What are some other memorable moments from your time in showbiz?
Apl.de.ap from The Black Eyed Peas turned up to one of my shows and afterwards he was like, “Hey man, that was really cool” and I was like “Aren’t you…!?” I also opened for Taylor Swift’s concert once (her Speak Now tour in 2011), and she got her manager to run all the way to the other side of the Singapore Indoor Stadium to knock on my door and say she wanted to meet me, so the concert started a little bit late because she personally wanted to thank me. It was nice to know she wanted to say hi, even though she didn’t need to.
Wow. What exactly did she say?
She hugged me and said I sounded amazing. It felt quite surreal at that time. And she smells really good. I didn’t sniff her! (laughs) She was in the vicinity, so I could smell her, and she smells really good. I appreciate it when people smell nice.
Sezairi received an autographed calendar from Taylor Swift after opening for her Singapore concert in 2011. (Photos: Sezairi/Facebook, TPG/CLICKPHOTOS)
Sezairi’s single ‘70’s’ is now available on online digital platforms.