Like a seething cauldron of experiences and ideas, it seems rapper (Nigesh) Armon has been there, done that and bought the T-shirt, too … and he only just released his debut album.
But before waving a disparaging finger at him, judge him on musical merit – listen to Thank You, his nine-song (13, if you get the Deluxe Edition) offering which bristles with a hodgepodge of flavours, including everything from rock to rap.
The 32-year-old singer sharpened his claws by first singing in the band Versatile, before discovering his rap sensibilities supplying his vocal chops for Positive Calamity. His initial stage experience was gleaned by partaking in theatre, serving with comedy troupe The ComeBackKings.
Of course, well before all of that, he tanked up on an embarrassing diet of boy band pop. Yup, the usual suspects figure highly – N’SYNC, Backstreet Boys, Westlife, Boyzone … and Spice Girls. Hey, we all start somewhere!
But discovering the raw power of rock from the likes of AC/DC, Metallica, Megadeth and Pantera was all the sonic nourishment he needed, before embracing the likes of Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Trivium and Tool.
With lessons learnt and history safely consigned to a memory box, he created his own furrow, artistes like Lupe Fiasco, Common, KRS-One, Dr Dre, Kendrick Lamar, N.W.A., Ice Cube, Mos Def and Macklemore became reference points.
Truth be told, he’s been mining the same well, but years spent listening to classical Tamil songs, playing the organ and tabla, and singing in a choir, have all given him a unique sound.
And this sound has allowed him to perform at the 2012 Petronas Formula 1 Concert, where he faced 12,000 people, whipping up the crowd before Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger took to the stage. In his CV of noteworthy gigs, Armon can also list the Island Music Festival 2015, Pulau Redang, Terengganu, Video Games Live 2016 and IndiePG 2016.
1. What kind of a name is Armon anyway? Shouldn’t you have a cooler stage name?
You know when you try to be cool and come up with stage names, that don’t work? I’ve had that. T’xtrano, TX, NiggyTX, and just using my name Nigesh Armon. I finally decided on Armon for branding simplicity and as a tribute to my dad.
2. What is the worst response you’ve had to your music, and did you beat those people up for it?
If I had a sponge baseball bat I would. The action, not the harm. They would get the point. Haha.
Well, the worst thing would have been during my first recording session in the studio with my old group Positive Calamity. Navin “D’Navigator” was on the producer’s chair, and literally told me that he couldn’t do anything with the lyrics and what was recorded. Ouch.
And just then, Resh (previously known as Reshmonu) had to walk in for his session and heard it all. He turned to me and uttered, “Take this all back. Practise for the next six months. Rethink your lyrics and writing in that time. Then come back and record”. Double ouch.
But I did just that. I had a second crack and finished my session in 30 minutes and Navin was happy and impressed. Take lemons and make lemonades, they say.
3. How difficult is it to get a gig for an artiste like yourself and how have you worked around that?
It definitely is, especially with a genre that is difficult for most people to grasp until they listen and watch the show. To overcome it, what I’ve learnt is, practice like crazy, be super tight, produce a great show, give 200% during every performance, provide great showmanship, make sure the crowd enjoys every bit of it and leave with the feeling like they went through a whirlwind. And I also got a great booking agent. Trust me, it does help.
4. Ultimately, what do you want to achieve and where do you realistically see this going?
To be a worldwide artiste and musician. That is the dream, that is the goal. I want to make music, and share stories and experiences that last generations … and that will be my legacy.
Do I realistically see it happening? Well real is what we make it to be and I hold on dearly to that belief. It’s not going to be easy, but every problem is merely an opportunity to learn something new, overcome it and create something truly great.
5. What is the future of rap music and where is your place in it in the local indie scene? Are world domination plans on the cards, too?
Rap music is fast becoming a borderless style. It can cross any language, any social norm, any style of music and any individual. Yes, it is difficult to master, but so is singing. It just takes a lot of respect and time for the craft to make it happen.
World domination? Of course, why not? Hahaha … But not just by me. If what I do can be a template, or if I can be the one to open doors for many others to walk through and create their own thing, then I truly know I am doing something right.