Local melodic math rock band explore current affairs and advocate for like-minded creatives through their non-conformist sound
Hardihood. From left, Endra Mahmood, Iskandar Fawzi, Shahriel Aziz
Forming in late 2013, initially as a vocal-fronted band, Hardihood began their journey with the artistic direction driven towards the technical sounds characteristic of post-hardcore bands such as At the Drive-In, Deftones and The Mars Volta. But as the seasoned musicians’ gained the collective appetite to create something bold and different from what they have been accustomed to, the band – currently featuring the trio of Iskandar Fawzi on guitar, Shahreil Aziz on bass, and Endra Mahmood perched on the drummer’s throne – eventually evolved into ardent exponents of melodic math rock, making do without the conventional stewardship of a lead singer.
From the hard-hitting consonance of bands such as April Rain and Brutus, to the sultriness of jazz and bossa nova, Hardihood’s current sound is a product of them reformulating each member’s amalgamated influences, without foregoing the core components of punk and hardcore. These ideas are then coalesced by the band’s chief songwriter, Iskandar, who usually takes the lead in conjuring up the riffs and melodic lines to their tracks.
Beyond their musical flair, the members’ respective aptitudes also ensure that the band’s dynamics are always in balance – Endra’s pragmatism helps keep the group’s sensibility in check should their sound ever get too esoteric, while Shahreil’s experience in the media industry makes him adept in marketing the band and getting Hardihood’s name out there.
Hardihood, Baybeats x Atmos Initiative 2021. Photo credits: Ashok Kumar (@zomgitashok)
The band’s discography includes Destination Unknown and The Odd Futurist, which represent the first two parts of an envisioned trilogy of EPs that are not without its profound connotations. While Destination Unknown is an allegory of a voyage into the future as they liberate themselves from the adversities of the world – ranging from climate change, polarising political views as well as the ongoing pandemic – The Odd Futurist, as its sequel, sees them return to warn humanity about the consequences emanating from the current atrocities.
“We all know that there’s plenty that’s wrong with the world right now so we wanted to send a message that, while not so blatant, was also emotive, spacey and radiates a glimmer of hope.” shared Shahreil.
Their craft isn’t just limited to their musical repertoire either – the trio constantly collaborates with artists from various creative domains, weaving their work into their releases. From the likes of local pen artists such as Nurhakim Desha to KL-based digital animator Billie Almashoor (@bilarobot), the art emblazoned on the cover of their releases are products of the respective creatives independently translating Hardihood's music into illustrations.
And while the inclusion of lyricism may seem like an anomaly for the primarily instrumental band, verses contributed by spoken words artist Shaik Badres and former vocalist of local post hardcore band My Squared Circle, Azman Salim, on the tracks bookending The Odd Futurist were integral in adding the depth needed to augment the overarching themes of their EPs.
“Music is about collaboration and expression,” shared Shahreil. “So the doors are always open for us to work with artists that align with our values while also promoting their craft through our platform that is our music.”
With the third instalment of the trilogy currently in the works, Shahreil also hints on the possibility of featuring an erhu or gamelan player to highlight the musicality of Singapore’s various ethnicities and showcasing them on a global platform, while also serving the closing chapter to the narrative of the previous EPs.
Being bold, courageous and able to stand one’s ground are characteristics that align with hardihood’s etymology, and are those the band have embodied through their non-conformist style of rock. Befittingly, the band has shown that music, just like any other art form, is truly universal and through their unbrazen steadfastness of their artistic direction, are vindicating the denotative labels they have tagged themselves with.
Listen to The Odd Futurist below: