It’s often said that first impressions rarely reveal the person behind the face (or in this case, the voice), but some people do come across as being incredibly genuine from the get-go. For Mikael Adam Lozach – also known as famed Malaysian rapper, SonaOne – that seems to be the case. Even through the phone, there’s a sense of joviality in his tone, a sense that to him an interview isn’t a chore, but an opportunity to share his thoughts to the world.
This time around, he’s recently returned from Hong Kong, having just participated in a new reality TV show called The Ultimate BROcation. Premiering on the 14th of December, it features R&B sensation Billy Crawford, SonaOne himself, TV and radio host DJ PK, and maverick chef Bjorn Shen as they go on a five-day adventure in Hong Kong experiencing the region’s wildest delights. Here’s what SonaOne had to say…
You went to Hong Kong for your BROcation and it’s an experience you’re not going to forget. Was there anything in particular you enjoyed?
We went out to Luk Keng Tsuen. We managed to get a nice view of HK on both sides; the Kowloon side and the harbour side. It really looks like the postcards, you know? And it’s just a different feeling to actually have seen it and have that in your own memory, rather than look at it through a post or online or on your Samsung… it just really makes my day to experience that. I really enjoyed going to Kowloon and seeing how different it is from the island side. I would say it’s a lot more… it looks like the country on that side, the main island side feels like, ‘wow, this is very modern, very Westernised, [a] very clear aesthetic of Hong Kong. I didn’t expect this, but on the south of the island, there’s very nice beaches and you can do a lot of gliding activities as well… it felt like suddenly you were on a Mediterranean coast!
Tell me about the other people you vacationed with, your ‘bros’. You really enjoyed their company by the end of it, so what were they like? The chemistry between you guys, what was it like?
Unexpected. If I could use one word, it is ‘unexpected’, because one, you don’t really know who you are going to spend the rest of your vacation with, so from the moment we arrived, for me especially, I didn’t know what to expect. I had never been to Hong Kong, I didn’t know anything about this city, and I didn’t know anything about these guys. But at the end of the trip, it was like, wow… everybody had their own character, and everybody brought a different slate to the table. For example, Bjorn… Bjorn was the wildcard. If there was anything that was crazy or disgusting that all of us needed to do, it was Bjorn who’d do it; he was just ready for action all the time. Then you have PK, the oldest of the group, so he always showed sophistication, elegance, but at the same time, he was the one quickest to the jokes, his mind was the youngest amongst all of us! He’s always one step ahead of all the boys… sometimes he made us look bad because we didn’t dress up as well as he did, you know, but we all loved him. And then there’s Billy, pretty much a star his whole life, and he is the most humble, nicest guy… people [in Hong Kong] were like, “Oh my god Billy Crawford!” and the way he handles it was amazing… this guy, he would take a picture with anyone. Everybody had a very unique character, and I hope we get to go on another ‘BROcation’ again.
Are there any particularly interesting stories you have to share?
I have a lot actually! It’s so hard to pick one out of the bunch… but I guess the first one that comes to mind was Bjorn and I ending up dancing and karaoke-ing with this old aunty nearby Temple Street. That was pretty nice, because I had no idea what we were doing, but it was pretty good fun. I mean, like I told you, Bjorn is kind of crazy and very adventurous in awkward situations, the guy just dragged me into it!
A decade ago, you were a tour guide – which is kind of fitting – and now you’re a well-known Malaysian rapper. Do you ever look back to those times and go ‘wow, I’ve come a long way’? How do you feel about it?
Sometimes I do kind of sit back and try to look back at where I came from, and just think, “Wow! I never, in a million years, at that time thought this is what I’m going to do.” To be honest, when I was just a tour guide, rapping was really the last thing on my mind. It was something I did when I got off the job and when I hung out with my friends and we’d just start rapping for fun, but never did I think this was what I’d be doing, ten years down the line. So, this is why I encourage people to dream and to always keep their minds open – it’s great to have a plan, but it’s not always the best thing to plan ahead too much, or tell yourself, “This is what I’m going to do, I don’t care what anyone says.” It’s great yeah, attitude, but sometimes having an open mind and an open heart can lead you to way better things.
Me being a tour guide taught me a lot about life, it taught me a lot about looking up to other people, and most importantly, what really helped me in music was as a tour guide. My job wasn’t just to show people what my country was like. My job was to sell these people the dreams that they bought. Most of these people come from very far, spend a lot of money to come to a country they don’t know anything about – so all they have in their minds is a dream and a fantasy. And my job was to make sure Ikept that dream alive. And that’s helped me tremendously in doing music, because I still apply that same mentality and same approach to everything I do today.
The Ultimate BROcation premieres on the 14th of December, with the premiere and subsequent episodes airing every Wednesday on Kix HD (Astro channel 729) at 9 pm, plus an encore presentation every Saturday at 8 pm.