I grew up in the northern part of Malaysia, Kedah. Kedah is known as the land of paddy fields. So every Chinese New year, I go back to my mom's place in the countryside, and that's why in the “Superstrobe” video, you can see the paddy fields, because that's where I started. My mom is a church singer, a church leader. And, as every Asian parent does, she sent me to classical piano lessons. I learned classical piano until grade 8.
I started singing and performing in church. Because my family is quite middle class, we couldn’t afford a lot of games - I wanted to play Playstation, I wanted to play Xbox, but I couldn’t get that luxury. My first Gameboy was given to me by my aunties, and by then I was already 16. But the blessing in disguise is I played all these 16-bit, 8-bit games, with this chiptune music… not even on a proper Nintendo console. What I had was called “Emulator King” and it came as a CD with 256 games in one. It’s an emulator that loads up old Nintendo or Sega Genesis games into your PC and you can play. I spent a lot of time playing those old Nintendo games, all these outdated computer games.
I started off with 80’s and 90’s games in high school. So the timeline for me - it worked perfectly, people might say I’m being nostalgic about y2k but for me that’s just my timeline [of when I experienced these games]. I kinda live in the past. I’m so grateful that it went a little trendy now, the “new nostalgic” is back!
My house is two-minutes walk from a wet market. That’s where I get my clothes and shit, where I thought of myself as the Fashion Angel. I’m literally no one in the fashion industry, I’m just a kid who shopped for clothes from the wet market. But this influences me. Another thing is Hungry Ghost festivals. During the seventh month of the Lunar calendar, the gates of hell open. People in Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia will organize these Hungry Ghost festivals. The Taiwan ones are a little more upscale - they have techno music and Chinese deities combined together. It’s rave, but it’s also religion - it’s crazy. In Singapore, a lot of tourists come for that but in Malaysia, we’re a little less commercialized.
Every year, it’s like a month of Chinese techno music outside my house. How do I sleep? That’s part of my sonic vocabulary.
We are, as humans, quite sponge-like. We are definitely inspired from a lot of different people, energy, conversations, etc. Because of me living in the countryside, one of my heavy influences was church. I’m also very grateful to have written Superstrobe in my hometown, because I think it puts my music into the purest form. I purposely, as a producer, curated Superstrobe to represent not just a specific genre but the journey I want to bring people on. It’s the purest form of Shelhiel, purposely curated as a journey- you can actually listen to the whole EP with a couple different interpretations, that’s the purpose of the blank spot on the last track (始____终 ).
Track 6. 始____终 is meant to the last track of the EP.
始 = beginning
终 = end
始终 = always
Therefore the blank space _____, whether it is “始，终, 始终, 始？终” is up to the listeners to decide the story of the protagonist Angel. In ascending order might be a descent of the angel, in the opposite order might be the ascension of the angel, or you can just believe that 始终, always, it is always in a loop.