Born in Singapore in January 1977, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Shah started out a metal music enthusiast. He dreamed of playing in a Rock & Roll band early in his childhood. He started learning the guitar on his own at 13 years old, and at age 17 Shah formed his own band with three members.
His Rock ‘N’ Roll dreams came true when he joined Cynation. In 2002 Shah met Josh Mak and auditioned for his band “Cynical Annihilation”. Shah landed the gig and became the guitarist for the band, now known as “Cynation”.
Shah had a tough childhood as he grew up in a poor family and saw his parents divorce when he was 15 years old. His mother worked very hard to take care of Shah, along with two younger siblings, a brother and sister. Shah struggled in school because of the stigma of coming from a broken family, losing his friends as a result. He would often get into trouble; his grades suffered at school and eventually was kicked out of school when he was 16 years old. The school principle told Shah to look elsewhere because “he would tarnish the good name of the school.”
Determined to prove everyone wrong and to make his mother proud that she raised a good son, Shah was motivated to succeed. Shah started learning technical hands-on trade and ended up working in the technical industry. He contributed his share in providing food on the table for the family together with his mom. In 2009 Shah graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore with an Engineering Diploma. He later married and has two lovely kids, a son and a daughter.
Rock ‘N’ Roll has always been the reason for Shah to dream of bigger things. Shah is a self-taught guitarist because he could not afford to pay for guitar lessons or to go to music school. He picked up his skills by watching and listening to legendary guitarists such as Akira Takasaki from the heavy metal band Loudness, Steve Vai, and Nuno Bettencourt from the band Extreme.
His love for guitar was so great that when he was 13 years old he taught himself how to play. During this time, Shah got his hands on a beaten up acoustic Kapok guitar with hard strings, someone gifted him. He borrowed a chord book from a friend, bought an exercise book and copied every chord printed on that book. Shah had made it a goal to learn all the basic chords in seven days, including changing them flawlessly. He taught himself how to tune the guitar to concert pitch. Shah learned about music theory in 1992 after he finally could afford to save up $10 to buy the August 1992 Guitar World issue, which featured James Hetfield and Tony Iommi on the cover. Shah learned the guitar tablature “as if his life depended on it.”
His first proper guitar was a Yamaha acoustic guitar he bought from a friend. Years later he upgraded to the electric guitar. Shah is a master of the legato technique, the tapping technique also used by Akira Takasaki of the band Loudness, and the squeals (pinch harmonics) he adapted after hearing Zakk Wylde on Ozzy’s 1988 ‘No Rest For The Wicked’ album.
Today Shah became famous for his fusion rock, blending rock, funk, jazz and blues. He inspires young musicians today and is proof that becoming an extraordinary musician takes determination, passion, drive, along with sheer talent.
Credits: Photography by NADGE.