On Our Radar

Meet the Singaporean Who Is A Barber By Day and Musician By Night

It's not often you find someone perfecting buzz cuts and malay soul music. Akid Amir does both with sincerity.
December 30, 2019, 10:24am
akid amir barber musician geylang relax corner

When first meeting Akid Amir, you might be caught off guard by his openness. A barber by day and musician by night, the 27-year-old Singaporean is usually decked out in a silk scarf and bell bottoms, with his signature fro on top and a brown leather suitcase containing the tools of his trade – a barber bib, electric shaver, and a whole array of blades and scissors. The one thing he doesn’t carry in the case, but always has with him, is a good vibe.

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Akid spends most of his time in his music and barber studio located in Singapore’s Geylang neighbourhood. It's a lively area which is somewhat of a conundrum, with its late-night haunts and infamous red-light district, located right next to one of the oldest Malay settlements in Singapore. No stranger to that sort of duality, Akid sees clients that go to him for a fade in the daytime, but at night is when he is really in his element as his focus turns to his other passion. With open-minded respect for music across genres, and many other talented people drawn to his warmth and receptivity, he’s brought refreshing, soulful music to Singapore.

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Akid Amir in his Music and Barber studio in Geylang. Photo by Paul Lin

Coming off the release of his first EP, Ikhlas Untuk Semua Wanita, Akid has been a recognisable face in the Singaporean scene, undoubtedly because he exudes a warmth and truthfulness that conjures inspiration to do the same. “In one of my songs ‘Imaginasi’, I say, ‘Hati yang ikhlas itu senjata.’ It means having a sincere heart is your weapon. That’s one of my favourite lines.”

Living with that sincerity while being multi-talented, it’s only natural that Akid has popped up on our radar. Read on to find out what's on his.

I believe that… if you are sincere, nothing can hurt you.

My friends say I am… a musician

But I like to think I am… just a music lover who happens to know how to play a little bit of music

I've been working on… finding myself more – learning more about how people react, and how to adapt to different people and situations. Music-wise, I’ve been doing a lot with many people. I did a song with Intriguant recently. I’m doing more stuff with Kribo and Mediocre Haircut Crew. And I’m working with Malaysian producer I-Sky that’s gonna be released next year. I’m doing an EP with Spacedays that we’ve been working on for more than 4 years, so hopefully, by next year, it’ll be out too. I’ve been doing music since I was 16 but none of it has been released cause we never got to record it properly or shit happened – different priorities, band breakups… So my goal right now is just to release as much as I can.

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A typical jamming session in Geylang. Photo by Paul Lin

I am inspired by… the people around me. I get to meet people on the daily when I cut their hair. Different clients going through different phases of life. I’ve cut hair for some of them for more than five years, sometimes as often as every two weeks. From being single to going to NS [National Service, mandatory army conscription for Singaporean men], to getting married, to having a kid. I learn a lot from them that inspires me to live and understand life.

Recently I've been really into… 90s house music, ‘cause that was a genre that I never really had a chance to explore. It’s always been at the back of my head, growing up listening to the likes of Modjo, Kylie Minogue and Moloko. I was too young to understand it, but I always enjoyed the sound, so now I’m revisiting it and understanding it in a club context. Having Leon [DJ and producer] here in the space has exposed me to how the music is being made.

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Recently The Stoned Revivals just released all of their tracks online. I remember listening to them in 2010 when I was playing with The Pinholes. Fami (The Pinholes’ guitarist and vocalist) showed me their album Tropical Cannibals, telling me that the album was so dope, so ahead of its time for an album that came out twenty years ago. It reminds me not to push music away, but instead move it to the side to revisit every now and then.

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Photo by Paul Lin

You can usually find me at… the studio! This is where I make my music and work, I spend most of my time here. Probably at some coffee shops around Geylang and all around its lorongs. Arab Street, there’s a lot of good food and I used to work there and go to Sabar Menanti a lot for lunch, it’s really good Nasi Padang (steamed rice served with various pre-cooked dishes). Gerald Drive in Buangkok, there’s a kampung (old village) there, the only remaining one in Singapore.

On bad days, I… definitely play music, that’s how I destress and it’s one of the main outlets that I have. There’s some things that you just wanna let go, and even explaining to someone how you feel bad doesn’t help. But when I record something I capture that moment. If that particular feeling comes back, I just have to listen to it and I'm ok. So yeah, anything that’s bugging me, I write it down, record it, and then I feel a lot better. Then if that particular feeling comes again, I just listen to it and realise I can let it go because I've already moved on.

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I live for… Sustainability. I don’t really want to be rich, I just wanna sustain and live a simple life.

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Akid Amir by Roshan Menon

In five years, I will be… lost, still. I think life is always gonna be a constant journey, you never know what’s gonna happen the next day, so you’ll be forever lost. Maybe lost is a bit harsh, so in five years I’ll still be learning. I don’t even know if I’ll be alive in five years time, that’s the truth man, if it happens, it happens.

Last words? Just learn how to give, it’s a beautiful thing, and it’s a blessing to be able to give.

Find out more about Akid – maybe even book yourself a haircut. Follow him on Instagram and check out his music on Spotify and YouTube.

Find Aditya on Instagram.