There is a vast difference between creativity and technical mastery. A commonly held misconception is that there must be a positive correlation between the two in order to achieve success. Although this does happen frequently, every rule has its exception. Puan is quickly proving to be that example in the modern music industry. He was convinced in his teens that he would be volleyball pro and later that he would be a psychologist. Although he completed his studies for a degree in Psych, it was an extracurricular activity that paved his career path in music. Adrian founded his own event organizing club in college and realized that he had a creative side. His goal was to plan events that had never been done before. A by-product of the process was working with entertainers. One of the bands that he booked in 2010 was Beat The System (BTS). BTS was a Malaysian band with a large following and had a somewhat hard rock sound. He connected with the group’s charisma and soon began working with them for their own promotion. Puan had always enjoyed writing poems so he seemed a natural resource for Gerald Sellan (BTS bandleader, drummer, and songwriter) when BTS was composing a song and having trouble completing the lyrics. Gerald recalls, “When I read what Adrian had written, I was stunned. I knew that he had a natural ability to come up with melodies but I didn’t expect his lyrics to be so strong! A lot of people think that lyrics are just words that you sing but there is much more to it. They have to flow well off of a vocalist tongue. They can’t seem stereotypical or trite. There is a rhythm and an emotional quality to certain words. I think Adrian’s background in poetry gave him keen insight into that.” The Asian Voice Independent Music Awards felt that the song was so strong that they awarded it (entitled “Shine”) Best Collaboration, Best Genre Bender, and Song of the Year in 2012. With an award winning tone set for Puan and Sellan, they partnered up again the following year to compose “Hero” which won for Best Rock Song at the ABM Music Global Awards. Sony Music Malaysia General Manager Hermond Chong reinforces the fact that Adrian established himself among his peers in the Malaysian music scene declaring, “Adrian skills as a songwriter are extraordinary. His talent and abilities have surpassed those of his peers in a very short amount of time.”
Adrian’s process for songwriting is, well…unusual. Never having learned to play a conventional instrument, he dictates his melodic ideas into the recording function of his iPhone. He states, “I will get a melody idea in my head and record the idea into my iPhone. I’ll revisit it the next day and if I still like it, I will take it to the band. Gerald is the middle man for the song evolution process. If he doesn’t like it for BTS I may keep it for some other artist at a later date. If he does like it, as leader of the band we will demo it. He is a much better singer than I and can lay down a scratch vocal. Once we get the vocal melody where it needs to be, we will use that in pre-production or in the studio to give May (Leigh, vocalist for BTS) a guide for her part. We all work together in the studio. I am fortunate in my situation as exclusive songwriter for BTS. Some artists are only interested in their individual interpretation of the song but all of the members of BTS work with me in the studio to help deliver my vision for the song.
Even though Puan has been a vital part of BTS’s forthcoming US release JOURNEY (seven of the album’s eleven tracks were composed by Adrian), he is still looking for new ways to create. Although he has investigated several of the apps that mimic instruments, nothing has clicked for him. One of the most welcome new influences for Puan has been the people themselves in America. He confirms, “Malaysia has cultural and racial diversity. That exists here in the US as well but I notice that the people are different. Gerald (Sellan) Stewart (Sellan, BTS guitarist) and I are all from Malaysia. May (Leigh, BTS singer) is American. She is so openly joyful and vibrant whereas we are much more reserved. It’s exciting to be around people who carry themselves in such a different manner because it challenges me to question my perspective…which will hopefully lead to great song ideas.” Adrian Puan would appear to be on the inspiration precipice of many new songs. Look for his latest compositions on Beat The System’s JOURNEY, to be released in early Fall 2016.