BEats: A Buskers' Special: Firdaus
With more spaces being introduced to the busking scene, buskers are given more platforms to showcase their talents. But the question arises: is busking only about the loose change? Muhammad Firdaus and Ken Loh, two outgoing and amiable buskers from Singapore, tell us more about the art of busking
WORDS LIM YEN SHUEN
PHOTOGRAPHY LIM YEN SHUEN
Spotting a busker on the streets of Singapore is nothing new. More people are stepping up to perform live and some of them even draw regular crowds. Muhammad Firdaus is of no exception.
The 23-year-old goes by the stage name of Fyrdauz Macbeth. He usually performs along Orchard Road, opposite Mandarin Gallery. It was there that we found him.
Rain or shine, Firdaus will stay at the same spot before getting on the last train home. “I’m hungry,” he said to me. I must have given him a confused look because he added: “Not hungry for food but hungry to play.”
“I love to busk under the hot sun or in the rain, it feels more sincere. So I don’t really care about the weather,” he said.
Firdaus discovered his passion for singing when he was in kindergarten. He would enter his parents’ room and sing along to the Backstreet Boys. It was in Primary 6 when he started becoming interested in playing the guitar.
At first, Firdaus joined the guitar lessons at a community club, but he didn’t find them helpful. Then, he decided to learn from various websites and through online tutorial videos.
Firdaus has gone through a lot to be at where he is now. From joining a hip-hop dance group to an a cappella group, he finally auditioned for busking after graduation. Thus, began his solo journey to gain confidence.
“I just want to improve on my confidence so that when I go on bigger stages as a soloist, I won’t be as nervous. It is basically to improve myself as a performer,” explained Firdaus.
With no fixed setlist, Firdaus chooses to perform songs that suit his voice. He covers songs from a wide range – oldies like Brian McKnight and Richard Marx to current era Ed Sheeran and Kodaline.
Firdaus says that the older generation has an impression that busking is equivalent to begging. Initially, his parents disapproved of him busking. However, their views have since changed and they show their support by attending every single set.
Passion for busking comes from the buskers’ ardent love for performing. Buskers are usually friendly and considerate of others in the community.
Busking isn’t all fun and games. Firdaus faces certain challenges as well. Lugging his musical instrument and equipment around is no easy feat. Also, performing in public places means there is a chance that his sets might get disrupted by passers-by with no proper etiquette.
Infamous buskers are also aplenty. Possessive ones will try to fight for a particular busking spot whereas others will turn up their amplifiers by a few notches just for more attention.
What sets Firdaus apart from other buskers? He loves audience interaction. By singing songs from various genres or in different languages, he caters to a wide audience. Some people would step up to request for songs, some would dance while he sings and one man even proposed to his girlfriend while he sang in the background.
“I’m not the kind of person who will go ‘I play music, you just watch since you’re the audience’. If I see my friends, I will stop (playing) to say hi,” he explained.
“I make a lot of friends. Then I will take photos with them and upload on Instagram,” said Firdaus as he proceeded to show me his Instagram profile.
He went viral on Facebook once, with a video of him performing on the train with his group of friends. The video garnered more than 17k views.
Social media plays an important role in Firdaus’ life as he uses Instagram (@fyrdauzmacbeth) and Facebook (@fyr.macbeth) for performances updates. He will also use the platforms to spread awareness about important issues, such as mental health.
When asked about his future plans, Firdaus declared: “I’m planning to record my own songs someday but for now, I will just go with the flow, to wherever busking brings me.”