“Our passion has always been music. We would make time for gigs, no matter how big or small the crowd was.”
This was the first thing that came to Gerald Sellan’s mind as I asked him about how Beat The System was formed back in 2005. The Malaysian band was incepted by two brothers who shared the same dream, Gerald and Stewart. They are the respective drummer and the lead guitarist in the band, despite both of them originally being engineers.
Even as they tried to build a name for themselves in Malaysia, the band of brothers were continuously rejected by local record labels. This was until Gerald decided to up their game and sent their 10-track demo to the United States. After much hardship, the news they were awaiting for finally came: Beat The System has been signed with Monster Hitz Music.
The aforementioned record label is owned by Diana Meltzer, and if you have been a fan of Evanescence or Creed at some point in your life (and still are), you would know that Diana is the founder of these Grammy award winning bands. The best part of their good news was that Diana even flew to Kuala Lumpur to sign the band up. In addition to that, the band has meanwhile grown to two additional members: Adrian Puan, their songwriter, and May Leigh, their singer.
The Burden Of Musicians
Being musicians might sound like a “fun” profession to most, but Gerald is quick to debunk that myth. He said, “The journey has been very, very challenging. Sure, there have been times when we felt like we were at the top of the world: we’re aware that not every band will get such an opportunity; but there were also times when we were pushed to the brink of giving up.”
“One of the biggest hardships we faced was when we were on the search for a singer to be the frontman/frontwoman of our band. Any band will testify that finding a new band member is never easy as that person has to share the same vision and values of the band, that is even before considering the standard of their musical talent and skill,” he adds.
Fortunately for them, after months of searching, Diana recommended Ohioan-born singer May Leigh to them and they couldn’t have asked for a better singer. What surprised them all was the immediate chemistry that was formed upon meeting one another.”
Daily Reminder For Them
“Musically, we have many, many inspirations which include Mariah Carey, Creed, Adele, and Steven Tyler to name a few. We’ve always aspired to be the best we can be for ourselves, our family, friends, fans, and most importantly for God. We know that without God’s divine guidance and intervention, there is no way we could’ve achieved anything remotely close to this,” Gerald conveyed to Vulcan Post.
The band are aware that there is still a long way to go for Beat The System, but if there is one thing they’ve learned throughout their journey so far, it is that nothing can stop them from achieving what they set their sights on.
“All of us in the band are big dreamers and for that we’ve been laughed at, we’ve been scorned at, and people will always have things to say about us. But at end of the day, their words will always remain just as words, we only have to focus on what we’re doing and strive for the best,” he said.
Climbing The Music Charts
Now here they are, recognised and appreciated worldwide, with their first single, ‘Be Your Own’, currently blasting through the Malaysian airwaves. Their debut album, ‘Journey’ has been set to be released this coming June, and moreover, ‘Journey’ depicts their journey as a band and also as a diverse group of individuals whose paths crossed for the better, and united them together.
“After getting signed and now having released our debut singles ‘Be Your Own’ and ‘Hero’, we’re aware that this is only the beginning. We’re definitely looking forward to breaking into the US charts and going on a worldwide tour,” said Gerard.
Finally, I asked Gerald the last and probably the most important question for all aspiring Malaysian artists out there:
What advice would you give to them? When they struggle, when they strive to be on top?
“Simple, just don’t let your ego get in your way. We realise that too many artists are only willing to listen to what they want to hear, but not willing to take criticism. Get professional opinions from credible sources, not just your family or friends who will almost never offer you constructive criticisms. Stop blaming others for not ‘getting’ your music, if the response isn’t positive, go back to the drawing board and try again,” the band’s drummer said.
He notes that, yes, music is a form of expression, but music has its standards too. Hence, it is important to decide if music is your hobby or your career. If it is the latter, be prepared to be drawn out of your comfort zone and be challenged like you’ve never had before.