Martin Looi is not a name you may have heard of. Yet. This young Malaysian violinist is steadily making a name for himself however. At this rate, it shouldn’t be too long before his numerous recordings and collaborations bring him to wider attention.
His sound mixes violin and software plugin effects with modern R&B, reggaeton, hip-hop and jazz beats. Yes, that works. Rather well.
His new EP, Maddy, is on Spotify now and showcases his unique blend of musical influences in five tracks. The songs range from the 1930s-jazz tinged cover of Getaran Jiwa to Spanish and reggaeton influenced numbers. There’s even a cover of Kenny G’s Songbird which will appeal to fans of smooth jazz.
Looi is only in his early twenties, but seems to have packed a lot into his first couple of decades. In the last few years alone, he graduated from a degree in music and audio engineering in Australia and then went on to play with some of Malaysia’s biggest pop stars. These are only the highlights of his achievements. Seems like he is determined to leave his mark on music somehow or another.
Because he has a degree with a major in audio engineering, Looi can produce and mix his own tracks as well as working as a producer for other musicians. His skill in production gives him an insight into making music that sounds good in the studio. Plus he knows how to engineer it to ensure it sounds just as good when released.
Taking the lead on his own tracks, Looi has the ability to play parts on his violin which other instruments would usually cover – a guitar line or a sax melody, for instance. The EP was recorded on a standard acoustic violin with effects and distortions added later through software plugins. Buried in the mixes are spoken comments about the music, nearly inaudible above the jaunty strings. Practically every track is upbeat and funky; the exception is Songbird, a cover of Kenny G’s hit tune. Can a violin sound like a saxophone? It certainly comes close here.
Despite sharing a name and a similar vibe with Wez Devine’s track, the final track of the EP, Lil Latina, doesn’t appear to be a straight cover of the Devine release. It is, however, just as infectious and upbeat.
Martin Looi’s Instagram account is followed by over 10,000 people. There he shares snippets of songs he’s working on, as well as videos and images of other violinists. Hopefully there will be many more posts for many more followers after this release. He also has listings on YouTube Music and Apple Music, plus his newly released EP, Maddy, on Spotify.