This month marks a year since the late Allahyarham Jeremy Little passed and left a whole community of family, friends, colleagues including Malaysian musicians, filmmakers and the creative industry who still mourn him. Former indie singer and friend Joanna Renisa remembers.
By Joanna Renisa
A year has passed since the Malaysian independent entertainment industry lost a great young entrepreneur, producer and musician. Jeremy Little was the kind of driving force in the entertainment business which people aspired towards. His undeniable will held strong up to his very last days, which were filled with positivity and determination that he could overcome the adversity he faced. The departed’s passing in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on April 8, 2014 left a tremendous mark on his friends and loved ones.
As the late Jeremy’s best friend Faizal Shamin said: “Jeremy might have left us but the fond memories and amazing stories of him will always last forever. He made such a big impact on everyone he left behind, and we can all be grateful to have had the privilege of knowing such an amazing, kind-hearted person. Gone but never forgotten.”
Born Jeremy Maikel Ahmad on March 9, 1983 to loving mother Rosnah Mohamad and father Mick Little, he would first make his name in music as Jeremy Little. Known to his closest friends as Jermz, he was blessed in life as a tall, dark and handsome man due to his mixed heritage of a Malay mother and a British father. Following his mother’s beliefs, Jeremy left the world a devout Muslim equally conversant in English and Malay due to his cosmopolitan upbringing.
“His physical has left us and was gone too soon but spiritually he’s still with us, closer to our hearts than ever,” said his mother Rosnah.
An immense amount of grief is still felt a year later, as a symbol of the healing process continuing for many Malaysians of this generation mourning his family’s loss. A great deal of friends and those who knew him professionally still miss him for the things he has done and everything he had contributed to the new Malaysian music and film scene.
In his early twenties, Jeremy and his brother Jeffrey Little – Jeff – decided to start a new-age metal and reggae-rock band, calling themselves Prana. Jeff at the time took the reins by leading the band from behind the drums while Jeremy next to him was the DJ, keyboardist and co-vocalist alongside their lead singer Eric Ruffin, guitar player Jamir “Jahm” Adiong and their Chilean bassist friend Pablo Torrejon. In a productive period of under five years from 2001 to 2006, Jeff and Jeremy released three albums with Prana under their own label, Laguna Music, including Have A Nice Jaywalk, Greenhouse Effect and Disc 03.
It was no likely for an intelligent and driven young man like Jeremy to take the next leap into managing a record label. Laguna Music was formed in 2002 by Jeff, initially to launch Prana’s albums, and by 2006 Jeff along with Jeremy had expanded Laguna into a diverse roster, recruiting other bands they liked such as Estrella, Seven Collar T-Shirt, PureVibracion, Love Me Butch and Lab The Rat which they recorded in their own space, the famous Greenhouse Studio in the heart of Ampang, Selangor where they lived.
Jeremy had been given the task to handle most of the A&R, artiste management and distribution deals while Jeff produced, and this was a dynamic which lasted till the younger of the brothers left us last year. Among his final distribution projects with Laguna was the distribution of the collection of sermon CDs by the revered and world-renowned Islamic filsuf, Mufti Ismail Menk.
Mufti Menk said upon his young friend’s death that Jeremy had been “chosen by the Almighty to be an inspiration to many of his friends and colleagues to better themselves in every aspect of living.”
In 2009, Jeff and Jeremy approached the peak of their presence and recognition in the independent music scene as the brothers enjoyed a victorious year for Laguna Music, earning a total of 16 nominations at the first Voize Independent Music Awards. Gradually, Laguna Music expanded to become one the most reputable and enduring independent record labels in Malaysia. With regards to its reputation in the industry, Jeremy was able to negotiate Australian and British regional tours for bands like Seven Collar T-Shirt and Love Me Butch.
The always forward-looking, always enterprising Jeremy then decided it was time to set foot in the film industry. In March 2011 Jeremy joined forces with two friends who would form one of the strongest collaborative teams alongside him, Rewan Ishak and Nik Amir Mustapha. Their collaboration with impactful actors like Redza Minhat and Cristina Suzanne Stockstill gifted them the highly successful feature film, KIL. The success of KIL was recognized by multi-award nominations at TV3’s Anugerah Skrin and the Malaysian Film Festival or ‘FFM’, two of the country’s most recognised film award ceremonies.
Revealing a gifted mind for business, Jeremy eventually became the first CEO of Tune Studios and also the youngest CEO in Tune Group. His mission at this time, circa January of 2013, was to create a new platform for emerging musicians and a one-stop centre entertainment solution. Tune is now among the most reputable in Malaysia with world-class rooms built by international industry professionals. Notable names such as Alex Subryn, Monoloque and Stonebay are just a few who have recorded their projects at Tune Studios during Jeremy’s leadership.
Shared Alex: “Jeremy always took a chance on others, never judging their backgrounds. He contributed to the success of many musicians in the industry, including mine. Jeremy was an individual who dreamt big and was never afraid to voice out his opinions and stand by them.”
In Jeremy’s short time here, he was able to motivate everyone, from personal friends to industry leaders, spreading life lessons to many and leading by example. His early success and the empire he built were not the only things that inspired others, but it also how selfless he was at running his business right from the beginning.
Jeremy’s legacy lives on through the open platform he has created especially in the new independent music world which we now take for granted; in the local movie biz, where he scored and surprised many with unprecedented success on his first try with the game-changing KIL; and in the undeniable pathways he has paved for all creative people of his generation and after, amateur and professional alike, to work together on the same side. Jeremy united rather than divided everyone who crossed paths with him in life, and he will be dearly missed for some time to come.