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Singer-songwriter Syed Ahmad: 'I am not a frontman'

By Patrick ChngEvents - 05 December 2014 5:43 PM | Updated 08 December 2014

Singer-songwriter Syed Ahmad: 'I am not a frontman'

Homegrown musician Syed Ahmad confessed to inSing that he is not used to being a frontman.

After all, he is more known for being a multi-instrumentalist for acclaimed 1990s indie band The Stoned Revivals, and drummer for Tiramisu.

Syed Ahmad

On 12 December though, Syed will step into the spotlight to sing and perform at a late-night concert, titled 'Deep Soul Brotha', at the Esplanade Recital Studio.

“I love ’70s soul music. I really dig the deep grooves, like from early Michael Jackson, Bill Withers,” Syed said.

“For the upcoming show, I’m going to present a mixture of songs that I’ve written for the bands I’ve been a part of, as well as songs that I’ve never released before. However, they will be presented in a different way from the original versions that people know.”

The 38-year-old started playing drums when he was in secondary school. He met the Stoned Revivals frontman Esam Salleh while studying graphic design at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

He joined the Stoned Revivals in 1995 after the release of their debut demo tape. Not just a drummer, Syed started co-writing songs for the band and also played guitar and keyboards.


His interest in Brazilian percussion and rhythms led him to become one of the founding members of percussion ensemble Wicked Aura. He left the group in 2008 and went to Brazil in early 2009 to study under master drummers. He spent a few months soaking in Brazilian culture and music in Rio de Janeiro, Bahia and Recife.

Syed explained why he went to there: “The Brazilians are very passionate people. Artistically, they are very deep. I wanted to understand that. That’s why I went there to get to know their culture. They have a deep passion for expression.”

Syed Ahmad and Bloco Singapura performs a cover of The Stoned Revivals' 'The New Way'

When he returned to Singapore, he formed Bloco Singapura, a group that started out with about 50 people, but now boasts about 300 members. 

“We’re a samba community. We have an education wing as well as a smaller band outfit called Novobloco. For big shows like the National Day Parade, F1 and ZoukOut, about 300 members of Bloco Singapura will perform. We have members aged 15 to 50,” Syed said.


He added: “As much as I learnt about the Brazilians while I was there, I also discovered a lot about (Singapore’s) social norms and culture. The Brazilians have a deep sense of their traditions, culture and national identity. I really enjoy sharing this with the children.”

Syed has been teaching rhythm ensemble at LaSalle College of the Arts for the past six years. Under Bloco Singapura’s education wing, he has taught at Institutes of Technical Educations and conducted workshops for kindergarten, primary school students and adults.

In 2015, he is planning to take a backseat in this area and concentrate on producing and releasing EPs that he is working on with Esam.

For now though, Syed’s focus is on the ‘Deep Soul Brotha’ show. 

He said: “The title is both deep and cliche at the same time. ‘Deep soul’ reflects the introspection. I’m pushing myself… presenting myself and trying to sing. I’ve always had a fascination for the Rhodes piano, so I’ll be playing it on some songs. It’s going to be a show with a ’70s soul vibe. It’s gonna be groovy.”   

‘Deep Soul Brotha’ | Date: 12 December 2014 | Time: 9.30pm | Venue: Esplanade Recital Studio, Level 2, Esplanade Mall, 1 Esplanade Drive | Tickets: $25 

Deep Soul Brotha by Syed Ahmad

Deep Soul Brotha by Syed Ahmad

Date Dec 12, 2014

VenueRecital Studio, Esplanade - Theatres on The Bay

Ticket PriceS$25.00
 (excludes booking fee)