The Malay Heritage Foundation

Shafyre: Combining Music & Art – A Beautiful Blend

Mohammad Shahril Selamat, aka Shafyre, 40, is a Singaporean rock singer/songwriter. He displays his gift for music by performing in numerous shows locally and internationally. Shafyre embraces the acts of rock bands in the 80s and belts a wide vocal range. Finding inspiration in everything he sees, Shafyre feels the need to inspire others, and his music is a gift to everyone.

Being the youngest of his three siblings, Shafyre also sees Art as a subject to explore. He explored mediums such as oil pastels, watercolours, colour pencils and acrylic and created sculptures from paper mache and clay at a very young age. With the skills and experiences harnessed over the years, Shafyre eventually became an active prop and mural artist and was involved in numerous themed events in Singapore. As a mural artist, he created many admirable works for homes, schools, restaurants, and offices, some of which are being exhibited brilliantly today. Shayre was also commissioned to create paintings overseas and recently worked with the People’s Association under the “PassionArts” initiative for several projects in different parts of Singapore. They include art installations for Singapore’s National Day.

In November 2021, the Malay Heritage Foundation (MHF) invited Shafyre to sing and perform live painting at the inaugural Hari Warisan (Cultural Heritage Appreciation Day). In this new Ikon-Ikon Warisan Melayu SG feature, we chatted with Shafyre to learn more about his interest in singing, songwriting and mural painting.

Shafyre sang a cover song “Perjalan Hidup” by Ramli Sarip during the inaugural Hari Warisan 2021 at the Malay Heritage Centre. (Credit: MHF)

Q: Hi Shafyre, how are you? What keeps you busy nowadays?

Hello! Thank you for this feature. Things have been going well for me, and I am thankful. I am currently working on some commissioned canvas paintings for my clients. At the same time, I am also recording a new song, which is due to be released this year. It has been a while since things got this busy in light of the pandemic, and I truly feel blessed. Other things that I do will include spending time with my family, going for a run and also practicing Muay Thai.

Q: How early did your passion for music and mural painting begin? Which one comes first, and what made you realise they were something you wanted to pursue?

My passion for music started young, most likely when I was five years old, as far as I can remember. Back in the 80s, there was an explosive music movement worldwide. Many new genres started to emerge, and music was tailored for everyone. As a child, I was already intrigued by different song melodies and arrangements. Both bands and solo artists became much more dramatic in their performances, and the whole experience was enhanced further with elaborate music videos that came along with every song. At the same time, I was already doodling and colouring. So, if you ask me, I would say music initially significantly impacted my life.

My passion for art was only harnessed later in my school years when the same kind of intense mainstream music experience was not practiced. So in school, no music, and I focused on art, and vice versa when I was at home. I was good at sketching and colouring with the oil pastel medium that my mother and teachers would send me for art competitions, both within and outside school. It was intense, but it made me happy. I must say, music and art happened to me concurrently. However, my choice to pursue each field was triggered by different factors. My pursuit of art was mainly initiated by the encouragement from others who were impressed with me and supported me in doing more, while the goal of music came solely from myself.

Q: We understand that you are familiar with the rock genre in the 80s. Where do you draw your music influence from?

Yes, I am influenced mainly by the 80’s rock glam rock movement. Mostly from bands with heavy yet melodic sounds, with dramatic fashion and strong character. Western bands like Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, Whitesnake, Europe, and Skid Row, and Asian bands like Rusty Blade, Search and Wings, to name a few.

Q: There are not many individuals who are both a singer and mural painting artist. How do you juggle between the two roles, and which one is your favourite?

To be honest, I do not find it hard to juggle them as passion exists within me naturally. It is also because both the processes of painting and singing require the same creative thought process that will translate into execution techniques, like using the same machine to create two different products. I love both approaches equally as they allow me to present my abilities to others and please my audience.

Q: Share with us your journey as a mural painting artist. Where do you learn about painting, and who is your role model?

My first teacher was my mother. She taught me colouring, sketching and observation techniques. I met teachers who sharpened my skills and encouraged me further along the way. I have always been and am still inspired by artists from all times. It allows me to learn new skills and revisit known methods. Most importantly, by studying the artwork, I get to enjoy someone else’s story and thoughts. My role model will be Renaissance artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. They have limited resources, and yet they produced magnificent artworks.

Shafyre guiding Guest-of-Honour, President Halimah Yacob, in putting the finishing touches to his painting during Hari Warisan 2021, which is regarded as one of his most memorable experiences. (Credit: MHF)

Q: Share one of your most memorable performances as a singer and mural painting artist.

I had the opportunity to perform at a music festival in Lapangan Gasibu, Bandung, Indonesia. I was touring with an Indonesian band named ZOGUT. That night, the major roads around the Gasibu field were blocked, and we performed in front of possibly 50,000 people. Felt like I had achieved something for my country that night. As for being an artist, Hari Warisan 2021 is still fresh in my mind, and so far, nothing can top painting live for such an honorable event.

Q: Which is your favourite song piece you wrote and why?

It will be the song entitled “LOVE” in my album. I wrote both the song and the lyrics and oversaw the whole arrangement and production stages. It was beautiful. I wrote the song when I was deeply in love with someone.

Shafyre hopes to be an inspiration and role model for young aspiring artists. (Credit: Shafyre)

Q: What do you hope to accomplish to continue championing Malay heritage through music and painting?

I hope to serve my country with my abilities. It is like being seen not only as an artist/singer but also as a remarkable Malay Singaporean, born and bred with so much inspiration, will and passion. This is why I will continue to do my best and work hard to achieve more reputed platforms, both within and outside Singapore, where I can showcase my works and share my stories.

Q: What are your hopes and aspirations for Singapore’s music and art scene? Any advice for young Singaporeans considering a music career and being a mural painting artist?

In my lifetime, I hope to see Singapore become a hub for the Arts, if not for the world, at least for Asia. I hope I can contribute to that. I will advise all young artistic Singaporeans to embrace their abilities, work hard, always be ready to learn, be humble, be unique and enjoy the journey. 

Q: Describe yourself in three words.

The 3 Ps:

  1. Passionate
  2. Positive
  3. Philanthropic

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