Formed in 2009, you may know Kyoto Protocol from their chart-topping single, “Pussycat” from their debut EP released in 2011 titled “An Album”. They subsequently released two albums in 2015 and 2018, titled “Catch These Men” and “The Pen is Mightier”.
Still keeping it going with the original line-up since 2009, the five-member band have performed with acts such as Ariana Grande and The Chainsmokers at the 2017 Singapore F1 and were the opening act for Death Cab for Cutie (2016) and Yuna (2012). They were also nominated for the category Best New Artist at the 2011 Anugerah Music Industri.
Now, they are coming back with a new song, specially dedicated to that special someone. Their upcoming single “Best I Ever Had” is set to release on the 16th of June. They took the time to answer our questions where they share more about the inspiration for “Best I Ever Had”, touring plans, and their favourite memories being on tour.
1. We understand the song, “Best I Ever Had” was written as a way to propose to a special someone. Could you share with us the idea behind the song and how the proposal went?
The inspiration started just as the song starts, with that bass intro. This tiaroundund, it was a happy boppy bass line. Soon enough, the more I let that small piece sit, the inspiration would come in bits and pieces.
I had been in a steady relationship for a little over 2 years at that point. My girlfriend, who never paid too much attention to my music before, started to get deeper into Kyoto Protocol’s music. You could say she became a big fan.
Eventually, she started asking when I would write a song for her. Initially, I told her that it can’t be forced. That songs need to come from an organic source otherwise it would sound too forced. Not content with my answer, she would keep asking occasionally for “her song”: a Kyoto Protocol song that was about her.
That was the breakthrough! “I should write a song about how she’s always asking me for a song,” I thought to myself. So, the process of coming up with the bass line and finishing the lyrics probably took about 6 months in total.
In the meantime, she was persistent about when she’ll get her song. Feeling that the song reveal would have been an opportunity too good to pass up, I searched for the right occasion. Birthday? Not bad. Marriage proposal? Now THAT would be epic. So I planned an elaborate surprise that involved a cuti-cuti Malaysia and valentine’s day.
After a wonderful dinner, I surprised her by pulling out a Bluetooth speaker and an iPad. The speaker’s use would have been quite obvious, but the iPad was less so. I had made a minus one version of the song so that I could sing it to her live for the very first time. The iPad showed a white screen for most of the song, until the outro when I would flick to the next slide where it said, “Will you marry me?” She said yes.
2. What were the challenges you faced when writing the song?
As alluded to in the answers for question 1, that period when I already had the song in mind while she was persistently asking for her song was the challenging part… I don’t like lying!
3. “Best I Ever Had” is part of a trilogy. Could you explain to us what the trilogy is all about? Was there a specific mind map for it?
Actually, there was nothing specific to the trilogy… it just happened to be 3 separate song ideas that came to me during the pandemic. So we took it upon us to put them in whatever order of release that we feel would’ve worked the best.
4. Can we expect a music video for the new song?
Definitely, yes! Expect the unexpected hahaha.
5. Now that there is a new song out, is there a new album in the works? How many songs do you have so far?
Not sure if we have enough for a new album at the moment. We’d like to see the reception for ‘Best I Ever Had’ before we decide on our next creative move.
6. With travel restrictions more relaxed, what are your plans for touring?
We’re just happy to be booked for gigs and festivals again. We’ll be playing at Undercurrent by Breaking Music at REXKL on 9th Jul and BLOCKFEST in September (final date TBC).
7. For each member, what’s your favourite memory about performing on stage or being on the road?
Our favourite memory is the victories for sure. When we put it all out there, taking the risk to put money upfront for a tour and never really being sure if people will turn up, and in the end when it all works out and we have a ball of a time! We’ve had many tours over the years so it’s hard to pick between them. They’re like our babies!
8. Planning for a tour can no doubt be challenging. What’s the toughest part – is it the set list, building stamina or something else?
Good question! At this age the stamina is more of a concern than the setlist, since we’ve built up the experience and the repertoire for a setlist… but the stamina continues to fade as we get older.
9. Based on your new song, what is the best thing you have each received?
Hairi: A job offer.
Shan: First drum set at 15 years old.
Fuad: My first electric guitar, the Fender Stratocaster was a gift from my uncle. I still use it today… 30 years later!
10. How would you compare your music now to how it was 13 years ago?
We’re glad that it has evolved into something that we’re proud of, but we’re also proud that there’s a thread that binds our music, old and new, no matter which direction we inevitable float towards.
11. Are there any music trends/ culture from former years that you miss? We personally miss collecting physical CDs & cassettes.
Honestly, we don’t hate the digital era! We look forward to the future with open arms.