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A Talk With Singer-Songwriter Momin Deen

Momin Deen aka Muhaimin Che Din, is a singer-songwriter and a poet – based between Perth and Kuala Lumpur – heavily influenced by the likes of Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Marc Bolan, and the Beatles. We recently reviewed some of his music and discovered that he has the ability to capture the wailing pain and intensity that were so much a part of the birth of rock and roll. Sometimes he will add pop flavors at other times it will be folk or indie sounds. Generally you will be hooked by the purity of Deen’s voice, his range, and the feeling he conveys. Deen displays his mastery of a type of singing I thought had disappeared with Orbison, Elvis and Jerry Lee. It was a distinctive style. Interviewing Deen brings to the fore an artistic and personal dilemma – Is he more crazy or more genius! Either way Momin Deen will not leave you indifferent, which is the first golden rule towards achieving fame!

We were on and off about you. Which one is your real voice?
My voice usually comes off as baritone. Over time I slowly belted that high falsetto which took me about 4-5 years to crack open?

How did you do it?
Trial and error – I always wanted to belt that Buckley voice. The way I do it, is to compress my stomach at the very best of power.

So you survived the Tsunami?
Yes yes. It was at Payar Island, I was like why were the fishes missing? I swam so hard to the shore and wondered where the hell everyone else was? I asked my dad what happened: He was like “you were alone out at sea” and there’s been an earthquake, many died unfortunately.

Okay. Turns out to be the biggest I had ever seen. I do not like to talk about it actually, but I felt as if I was Bear Grylls.

Well I am surprised that you’re Malaysian. Weird accent you have?
Well personally that comes from watching too much Topgear. I don’t know anything about grammar. Considering I studied in Australia, they’re quite intimidating. But I got out of it, by singing every time I spoke?

Do people criticize your music considering you sound slightly western?
A lot, and it used to hurt me. But music is subjective, if it hits your taste then go on. Look, I play music the way I do, they play the way they do. Now I’m grateful of having the ability to be criticized about the way I sing or what not. That means people are taking notice, one way or the other.

The Top 3 Shows you performed in?
Wow. Not as easy, but no three I’d say. NBT was great, second was at AFKL Malaysia, 1st would be in 2008, I remember our drummer called the girls up to dance. It was fabulous.

How’s the music scene in Malaysia?
Superb. I have no words. They can sound western-ish but it’s amazing that they can do both. It is mind blowing the amount of support they give and I cannot just compete with that.

What frustrates you in the local industry?
Well, as we said befor, the way I sing is quite western-ish, and I got critiqued by that all the time locally. It frustrates me as well as I can’t change the way I speak, as I used too. Fashion is another example, wear normal clothing, but in reality, I want to wear something that I am more comfortable with, like a suit. People must know that dressing up the way an artist wants to dress is up to them. It also frustrates me that some people take music too personally. I have to admit, I was in that hole, but I learned and felt so remorseful.

The hardest part of songwriting?
Consistency, more than anything else. I write a lot of songs but the execution is tough. It’s easier said than done as there are so many tasks that need to be done. Forcing myself to be focused and not having distractions is how I write well.

What is happening in your career now?
I’m working super hard. At the same time I am going to participate in Laureus, as well, preparing for my German exam. But whatever it is my family comes first, making sure everything is in good shape. I suppose I woke up and realized that I’m not 19 anymore.

When are you going to release your album?
I don’t know. It’s super tough. Maybe I’ll just release 5 songs first, as volume one?

Who influences you more than anyone else?
Man I don’t know, I’ll just answer Beyoncé.

What drives you to achieve anything in your life?
When people say you cannot do things. I’ll just wait and let karma do the rest.

Do you know what your weaknesses are?
I have a few, but I have accepted the fact that I am not perfect. I want to think of myself as maximizing my strengths and minimizing my weaknesses.

If you were an animal, which species would you be?
I am a friendly bear.

What instruments do you play:
Oh here we go again, triangle?

Are you coming here anytime soon?
Well maybe. I cannot promise, 31 hour flight going there? But I am quite confident for London in December. But priorities first.

Any personal advice you would like to give to people looking to succeed at what they do?
Don’t let people push you off. Even if you fall, the way you stand up again is what makes it count. Self-esteem goes a long way, believe me on this one. Things will only get better if you believe you did good. Never say you are better than any other person, and don’t assume people are naturally ‘bad’, they have the ability to make an effort to change for the better too. To sum up, always go back to basics, and when you master that your natural ability will come through.

If you were a dog, what type of dog would you be?
A German Shepard, no haha…umm maybe just a friendly dog.

Anything else you want to add?
A shout out to all people who got married and had their children safely. Let us move forward to achieve something better in our lives. Sometimes it is hard for me to balance my hobbies and priorities. Sometimes I make mistakes and the only thing I can do, is turn those mistakes into something positive. Hopefully one of those positive, and better things will be my upcoming album just as soon as I am able to finish it!


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