Zaw Paing is one of a few musicians that can stand the test of time. He rose to stardom in the early 2000s but is still relevant to the younger generation of today. Known for his rock ballads, country songs and sweet voice, he is also a family man. MYANMORE has a chance to talk with this timeless musician. Words by Nay Thiha.

Let’s start with the beginning. 

Sure. I was born and raised in Thet Kel Thaung Village, Ngapudaw Township, in Ayeyarwaddy Region. While attending the second year of the university in Pathein, I participated in the televised So Kya Mel Pyaw Kya Mel (Let’s Sing and Have Fun) singing contest and won in 1997. Then I moved to Yangon and met Ko Chan Hein, the founder of Yadanar Myaing Music Production. He was looking for fresh talents. I got a record deal in 1998 and began my career.

How many albums have you been in so far?

Seven solo albums and three duet albums. I’ve been in many group albums, too. I also collaborated with the Iron Cross band. I wrote and produced for other musicians and their albums besides my own projects.

You’re famous for slow rock and country songs. What’re your inspirations?

I grew up listening to Kenny Rogers and The Eagles. Bee Gees, Bon Jovi and Metallica are my inspirations, too. I also keep in touch with the current waves. What’s interesting about today’s music industry is that genres are mixed. You can fuse electro beats with country songs. The result is completely fresh. I love it. I welcome the change.

Speaking of change. You’ve been here since the age of physical albums. Now music is digitised and broadcast online. How did you adapt to the changing trends?

Change is to be expected in any creative industry. Even when I was young, the trends used to change every two to three years. I have to find a balance between what I want to do and what the industry demands. How do I adapt? Learn, learn, learn. The creative industry is never short of learning. Besides, I love playing guitar. It’s how I get inspired to write music and a way to unwind.

What’s your view on the current industry? Any advice for new talents?

Music has gone online and opened doors for youngsters. When I started, physical albums were the only medium to consume music. Now they’re a thing of the past. People only buy CDs as a keepsake. On the bright side, online platforms make it easy for the youth to connect with the audience. My advice is to find your passion and follow it. Keep yourself fit. Fitness is vital for musicians. When you’re preparing for a recording, give it plenty of time to understand the lyrics, to master the notes.

You sang both cover songs and your own tunes. Is there any difference between the two?

The effort is the same. The point is to let the melody take you over. Once this is successful, you can sing any song passionately.

Who’re the musicians you’ve collaborated with the most? 

When it comes to duet songs, audiences know me with Chaw Su Khin the best. We collaborated on two albums and our voices are in sync. I’ve worked with many experienced vocalists. Ma May Kalar was good, too. The song choice plays a vital role in duets. No matter how good the singers are, if they choose a song that doesn’t reflect their vocal colours, the result won’t be good.

Who’s your dream collab?

A lot. But I will pick from contemporary bands… Dan + Shay would be nice to work with. I’ve been their fan for a while.

So, let’s talk about your family life. How did the marriage affect your career?

I had been friends with my wife before we fell in love and got married. My fans loved her, too. So the transition from a single life to a married life wasn’t that different, career-wise. When I got my son Shwe Paing, my fans also love and support him. I’m very grateful for all this love.

What are your dreams for your son?

He loves to sing, too. Now he’s learning the piano. He’s also interested in playing drums. He’s still young and has a long way to go. Both my wife and I will be there to support his passion.

Anything you’d like to say to your fans?

I just want to say thanks. They’ve supported me from my early years to this day. I’m only here because of them. I have much respect for my fans.

Zaw Paing album list

  • Chit Thu Ye Amaint (1999)
  • Myoe Awin Nya (2000)
  • Moe Kaung Kin Thit (2001)
  • Amaw Pyay (2005)
  • Shwe Yaung Nhit Thit (2006)
  • Pin Lal Myoe Pya (2012)
  • Pyu Thu Athit (2017)

Zaw Pang’s music can be found on YouTube channel @yadanarmyaingmusicproduction

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