Singapore music legend Jeffrydin delves into the heart of Pop Yeh Yeh.
BY JO TAN
Published on 26 February 2017
BY JO TAN
While it’s pretty standard these days for parents to enrol their children in music classes, 1960s singing star, Raden Jeffrydin Raden Imbromsoekaman (better known as Jeffrydin), was not so lucky.
“My elders never supported [my passion]. My uncle wanted me to be a teacher,” he recalls. Parental support or not, he joined singing competitions as early as Primary 5 and won many of them by performing, for the most part, tunes by certain musicians.
“I admired The Beatles, The Dave Clark 5, and Cliff Richard and the Shadows,” he says, naming the classic predecessors of Pop Yeh Yeh (PYY), a music genre that was huge in the 1960s Malay-speaking world. British rock groups were a strong influence on PYY musicians. Bands adopted English names and fashion trends, but they sang in Malay, with infusions of asli vocal and singing styles to create a completely original sound.
Jeffrydin began singing with PYY icons The Rhythm Boys, and later, he became the lead singer of The Siglap Five, with whom he recorded several hit albums, including the first-ever R&B recording in Malay. His smooth crooning and megawatt smile earned him a following of enthusiastic fans. “I miss the good old days where the support was so strong it became a craze,” he grins.
Unfortunately, there was no stopping the march of time. With growing preferences for other musical styles, PYY started to decline in 1971. Technology played a part too in reducing fan fervour. Jeffrydin feels that with the sensory overload from television and later, the internet and social media, it was less of a big deal to glimpse one’s favourite singer. “It’s no longer like the old times where you only had your radio. Fans could only listen to singers on the radio and never had the chance to see them, unless it was within the pages of magazines,” he muses.
Recent years brought on a minor resurgence of PYY. In Singapore today, there are bands such as Hyrul and the Hyperventilates, as well as The Pinholes, playing the genre or music influenced by it. Jeffrydin himself has persisted in music-making, recording close to 30 albums to date. In 2002, he was awarded a medal by Malaysia’s Sultan of Perak in recognition of his musical contributions.
“I still do three to four shows a month, sometimes more. As long as God allows me to keep contributing to the music scene, I will continue.”