SINGAPORE — He was contemplating leaving behind his music career, before an invitation by the organisers of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix reignited his dream.
For singer-songwriter Sam Padbidri, who performs under the name Dreebsby, the invitation to play a gig on the sidelines of the race weekend - alongside headliners Robbie Williams, Post Malone and Jackson Wang - has given him renewed hope to carry on producing music.
The professional lawyer and entrepreneur was one of 10 local acts in this year's F1 entertainment line-up. The others include: DJ Aurora, DJ Nicolette, DJ Big M, Hijack Hayley and Matilde G, as well as roving acts Bloco Singapura, Brylights, Los Cucurrus and Royalusion.
Padbidri spoke with Yahoo Southeast Asia in an exclusive interview last Tuesday (12 September) ahead of his first performance gig on the F1 stage.
How he landed the gig
Dreebsby started out as a band of Singaporean and British multi-instrumentalists, while Padbidri was in London in November 2017.
He has since gone solo, released a few singles, and launched his debut four-track EP '5AM' in March last year.
However, Padbidri decided to put his music career on the back-burner last year, in order to focus his energy on his IP consultancy firm, Solve Media. This was after contemplating over "the smart thing to do" versus "the passionate thing to do".
"I don't think I felt like I was getting ahead as a musician," he said.
So it was no wonder that he took a "double take" when he received an email from the F1 organising team on 11 April, with an invitation to perform at this year's race weekend. He was in disbelief over the "pleasant surprise", and even questioned whether the invitation was sent to the right person.
After confirming with the F1 organisers, Padbidri took two months to negotiate for fair compensation for his band. Seeing the gig as an opportunity for people to "come together", he also took the chance to invite clients, partners, friends and indie artists.
Preparing for the performance and working with his idol
After the negotiations were settled, it was time to stress about the actual gig.
"I feel that my job as an artist is to tell a story, that's the purpose of me being on stage. My job is to charm or win over the audience in a way that optimises their reception of that story and the message," said Padbidri.
"It's like trying to win someone over in between yelling into a microphone."
He had initial ideas to show up in an F1 race suit and a helmet in the shape of a disco ball, but they were quickly shot down by trusted family and friends. Eventually, he settled for a dress shirt, pants, white shoes and sunglasses.
Leading up to the performance, Padbidri abstained from alcohol for a week to keep his voice in optimal condition, and approached it with a positive mindset.
"I tend to overthink a lot and not have fun in the moment. So I'm really trying to enjoy this week, do my best, and have fun with it," he shared.
He was joined on stage by internationally-renowned drummer, Pablo Calzado - who has played for the likes of Mandopop artists like Wang Leehom and David Tao - and his long-time bassist, Tony Palumbo.
Padbidri had been a fan of Calzado, and the F1 gig gave him the opportunity to work with one of his idols.
"I'm in awe of people that play the drums because I have no coordination whatsoever. I'm envious of people that are great at drumming. I can watch drum solos till my dying day."
The gig was also good testing ground to see if audiences would react to his old and new songs, which revolve around the themes of love and heartbreak.
First on-stage performance since February last year
Dreebsby played a total of three sets over the weekend: a 45-minute set at the DBS Foundation Outdoor Theatre At Esplanade Stage, and two sets at the Paddock Club and Twenty3 Club.
It was the first time Padbidri had performed on-stage since February last year, and the F1 gigs gave him another chance to live out his rock star dreams.
"I'm just excited to have another opportunity to play and have people vibe for 45 minutes," he said.
"I think fundamentally, if one, two, or three people really enjoyed my set, it's a reminder to be grateful that someone at least connects with my music."
While Padbidri did not get to fulfil his "dream" of playing beer pong with Post Malone, he enjoyed the "VIP treatment" of being driven around on buggies, and even took a private ferry from the Esplanade to the Paddock Club.
And there is a silver lining for Dreebsby following the F1 gig, as Padbidri intends to release new songs later this year.
"I think one person's success is another person's success, if you're willing to share it."