For a man who once hated playing music, Dennis Lau has more than overcome it, working his way up to stardom – he’s also forged a path for fellow local musicians to emulate, a sleek, fine-tailored figure whose Facebook page (somewhat ironically, in hindsight) declares that ‘MUSIC is my life’.
Being a pacesetter is second nature to Dennis; he was three when he first started playing the piano, eight when he moved onto his signature violin – an instrument, he says, resembles the human voice best, with its ability to reproduce and create music from various genres. And at eleven, he became one of the youngest Malaysians ever to pass the Grade 8 piano exam (in East Asia alone, 28.6% of those who undertake Grade 8 music exams fail).
He attributes this success to his mother, a pivotal figure in his life who drove him on even as his interest began to wane at ten. Dennis admitted it wasn’t how he’d have chosen to do it, had he been playing the role of parent – but he hasn’t regretted it. Indeed, he’s continued to push himself. “Life is about challenging yourself. You create waves one after another to make sure that you progress and to give entertainment values to audiences and to anyone who doesn’t know you – that is my goal!”
It’s that desire to progress, to entertain that fuels his latest, first-ever large scale concert, ‘Dennis Lau & Friends, the Phoenix Rising’, at the Mega Star Arena this 22nd of October, featuring an all-star ensemble of 14 local talents such as beatboxer Koujee and singer-songwriter Vince Chong as well as beauty queen and singer Soo Wincci. Likening his upcoming concert to foie gras, Dennis promises that it will be a mix of music and art taking musicality and showmanship to another level. It’s also something he’s previously intended: “Throughout the years, I have built the relationship with all these artistes, and I think this year is the right time to do it.”
Also making its debut is the Phoenix Violin, Dennis’s new gold-plated electric violin touted as being the most expensive electric violin at present. Crafted by master luthier Alistair Hay, who previously built custom guitars for the likes of Steve Vai and Wang Lee Hom, it’s the perfect extension of Dennis’s ability, with the Irishman saying, “We are not building an instrument, but more like a suit and masterpiece where it has to fit perfectly.”
Having been in the music industry for over 13 years has changed how Dennis conducts things. Being an established musician, he now feels the need to show that instrumental music deserves recognition. “If you see international award shows like the Grammys, there are categories for Best Instrumental Music, Best Composition and Best Film Score, which are all instrumental music, but in Malaysia, we don’t have all of these. It’s not that I’m trying to make a statement that we should have these categories at award shows, but I feel it should be recognised for its quality of work.”
As Dennis himself states in his biography, the stage is his oyster – and the 22nd of October, the Mega Star Arena promises to be a fitting one for the rising phoenix that now intends to soar.
Tickets for ‘Dennis Lau & Friends, the Phoenix Rising’ can be purchased starting at RM 99, going up to RM 499 via ticketcharge.com.my.