“Like a Dream Come True”: Lukarts’ Nor Akhmal Reflects on Vans Musicians Wanted 2017

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If you followed what happened during Vans Musicians Wanted 2017, you’ll know that Lukarts were the band that made it all the way to Guangzhou, China and the House of Vans Asia-Pacific stage. What you may not know, however, is how the band felt about the whole experience. We sent vocalist Nor Akhmal a few quick questions, asking him to look back on last year’s competition and how it changed things for the band.

What does Vans Musicians Wanted mean to you?

Nor Akhmal: A chance. A chance to be part of something big and to showcase our music.

What was it like taking part in Vans Musicians Wanted 2017? And, in particular, performing at House of Vans in Guangzhou, China?

NA: It was unbelievable. In fact, it’s still hard to believe that we got through the first round; we only had a few hundred votes when some other bands had thousands! We were surprised and delighted that the judges liked what they heard. This may sound cliché, but playing in Guangzhou was like a dream come true. The crowd was amazing! Even though they don’t understand BAhasa Malaysia at all, they still sang along to our songs.

What effect, if any, did competing in Vans Musicians Wanted 2017 have on you and the band?

NA: It had an effect on us mostly as performers. Audience expectations are higher now; without realising it, music has become serious business since the competition. No more playing around. We try to make sure we make less mistakes, things like that. And in terms of the music, we realised that the fans and audiences want to hear new songs. It’s quite a bit of pressure on us because we do want to deliver the best and are working on new music, but good songs aren’t always written overnight. We know that there’s plenty of room for improvement, but all of that takes time.

Have things changed for the band since winning Malaysia’s Vans Musicians Wanted 2017?

NA: Things have definitely changed, especially in terms of fashion, haha. People started to notice us and we did get more event organisers asking us to play at their shows. It wasn’t easy striking a balance between playing music and our day jobs, which most of us still need to do in order to sustain ourselves.

Why should bands take part in Vans Musicians Wanted 2018?

NA: It’s a stepping stone to great things. And it’s not all about winning; just being together in a band and giving your all on stage itself is a great feeling.

Finally, if you could give any advice to bands looking to make it into the top 12, and maybe even winning the whole competition, what would it be?

NA: Go for it! Believe in your music. You are your best supporter. If you don’t believe in your own music, and in your own creations, no one else will. But it’s not just about having great songs, it’s also about your stage presence, how you as a band perform on stage. Always remember that good things come when we least expect them, and big thanks to House of Vans for giving bands in Malaysia the chance of a lifetime.

The public submission period for Vans Musicians Wanted 2018 starts on Monday, July 9. Head on over to the official site for more information.