Every artist encounters pivotal moments that shape them as they journey through the realm of music. In the case of Foxela, the launch of his latest single 'fallen' will almost certainly be regarded as one of those moments years down the road.
Unveiled on 20 September, the track is the Singaporean producer's first-ever release under Monstercat, the independent electronic label that he cites as one of the reasons he developed a fondness for electronic music.
The 19-year-old prodigy is now the Lion City's representative on the Vancouver-based label's Asia-Pacific roster, which also includes the likes of Vietnam's Hoaprox, Indonesia's Weird Genius and Papa Khan, Australia's Godlands, and China's Dexter King.
"I recall visiting the Monstercat team over in Los Angeles in June and it was surreal. It’s truly a huge moment for me as I am now able to live my childhood dream," recounted Foxela, whose real name is Nigel Quah.
On a more personal front, 'fallen' calls attention to Foxela's maturity as he grapples with his emotions in the aftermath of heartbreak. It also serves as an introduction to a side of the producer that we have yet to see, or in this case, hear.
He shared: "This track also marks the first time I’ve ever had my vocals in a song! It’s a huge step for me personally. I’ve always had my self-esteem at a low when it came to singing so this is a proud first for me."
In an interview with Hear65, Foxela retraced the journey that led to the birth of his newest single, explained his processes for songwriting and producing, and talked about how he has grown as an artist over the years.
Hi Foxela, congratulations on the launch of ‘fallen’! Tell us about the moment when you first came up with the idea for this track.
Thank you! I’m so excited for this release and I’m glad to finally be able to show this to the world.
The idea for this song actually came about in a rather odd way. I recall myself midway drifting to sleep when the line "see you when the sky has fallen" popped into my mind and [I] had to immediately record it in my voice notes. I found it rather special as I was not really one to come up with lyrical ideas back then.
I took that line and got to work the very next day. It was a very emotional period of my life so getting the vibe and idea of the song down was rather smooth.
"I’ve always had my self-esteem at a low when it came to singing so this is a proud first for me."
You’ve mentioned that this is a song that is close to your heart. Could you elaborate on that?
I had just been through something rather heartbreaking and I was just trying to find ways to cope and to express my emotions. ‘fallen’ is a song that perfectly captured my feelings. Sadness, but also a tinge of relief.
This track also marks the first time I’ve ever had my vocals in a song! It’s a huge step for me personally. I’ve always had my self-esteem at a low when it came to singing so this is a proud first for me.
How is ‘fallen’ different from your previous works? Did you make a conscious effort to try out new sounds and styles?
‘fallen’ is a track that was born with loads of experimentation and a lack of initial direction. Whenever I work on a track, I’ll have a semblance of direction and a goal. But with this, I did not. I let my fleeting thoughts take the lead here.
I also used this opportunity to explore different ways of going about production. I tried out a lot of resampling, recording my own voice, and using different sounds that I’ve never really used, such as bongos and other Afro-Cuban percussions. These are things that I have never really done! But from working on this song, I’ve managed to learn even more about music production. There is really no end to learning!
"Whenever I work on a track, I’ll have a semblance of direction and a goal. But with this, I did not. I let my fleeting thoughts take the lead here."
How do your thought processes for producing and songwriting differ? Which came first when you were making ‘fallen’ — music or lyrics?
I’d say that they are similar and different in some ways. I try to tell a story with both my music and lyrics, and I’ll try to work on both production and songwriting with that goal in mind. I’ll usually have to think a lot more for songwriting but for production, I’ll usually just let the thoughts flow! For ‘fallen’, the main part of the lyrics came first. I worked on the music, then figured out the rest of the songwriting as I went on.
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In another interview, you said that Monstercat was one of the reasons you fell in love with electronic music. How does it feel to have been able to release music with the label?
It feels crazy as it is truly a dream come true for me! I recall visiting the Monstercat team over in Los Angeles in June and it was surreal. It’s truly a huge moment for me as I am now able to live my childhood dream.
"But now that I’ve lived a little longer, I’d say that I have a pretty good understanding of myself and my goals."
Four years ago, you told us that you were still trying to refine your style. Tell us about the progress that you have made since then.
I’d say that I’ve made good progress. Back in 2018, I was still trying to find myself even as a person. But now that I’ve lived a little longer, I’d say that I have a pretty good understanding of myself and my goals. That in turn, [has] helped me understand my direction in music a lot better. I have a rather clear path of where I want to take my music in the near future. I promise that it’s going to be exciting!
Continuing from the last question, what would you say to your past self if you could travel back to 2018?
I’d say: "Don’t worry, you’ll be fine."
"The goal was to always have fun and to inspire people through music."
What are some new goals that you have for yourself as an artist as you prepare to leave your teen years behind and move into your 20s?
I’d say that my goals remain rather unchanged. The goal was to always have fun and to inspire people through music.
Lastly, do you have any advice for aspiring young musicians from Singapore?
My advice will always be the same — be humble, trust yourself, be kind... and take risks, too!