Fresh off its fifth year, It’s The Ship! has confirmed expansions to Japan and China – and Livescape Asia CEO Iqbal Ameer isn’t docking soon.
Iqbal Ameer is riding a massive, metaphorical wave. He arrives to our shoot fresh off a four-day cruise party, which he organised. Separately, he received a Youth Icon Award the night before and recently welcomed his first child into the world.
“Everyone had such a good time,” the Livescape Asia CEO grins when asked about the fifth year of It’s the Ship! “It was our most successful Ship to date. We were at full capacity, averaging four to a room.”
The four-day, three-night cruise took 4,000 party people from Singapore, to Phuket, then back to Singapore – but this is one of those journeys that matter more than the destination. On this ship, you’re guaranteed a non-stop party. It’s possible to spend the night at poolside rave, then the next afternoon mini-golfing with DJs – and if you’re lucky, sip on some Cristal passed on by generous Shipmates.
Iqbal wears a Gucci suit with Bell & Ross BR 01 Laughing Skull watch.
BR-01 Laughing Skull
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The music industry rakes in billions in revenue every year – given a live platform with the right people on it, it stands to become a tourism tour-de-force. Such was the case of Livescape Asia’s grandest event, Future Music Festival Asia, before its untimely demise in 2014. Regulations and red-tape cost the organisers and sponsors, while abruptly halting the potential of a home-grown music festival.
Iqbal is offhandedly honest about the situation now, reminiscing how the team turned their lowest point into a springboard for novelty. “We started toying around with a blank canvas – what event would you throw if you had no constraints?” he recalls. That’s where the idea of a cruise party came about.
Not only was the cruise industry on choppy waters in the face of affordable air travel, but the younger demographic remained virtually untapped in this scene. Plus, you need only abide by maritime laws at sea. Livescape knew they were on to something when the Ship set sail in 2013.
Iqbal wears sweater by Bottega Veneta, pants by Coach and sunglasses from Girgio Armani Men's Collection, with the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Nightlum on his wrist.
BR 03-92 Nightlum
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All hands on deck
Yet, the maiden voyage was unsuccessful. “Running a music festival on a cruise ship is a logistical nightmare, alright?” Iqbal laughs. “At a regular music festival, you leave after the last act. On the Ship, we curate your experience for 24 hours. It was challenging, but the first Ship had a crowd of people who were open to the idea. They became fans who gave feedback, and we called them our Shipmates.”
There are currently over 12,000 shipmates, each part of a party with an almost cult-ish appeal. In fact, Iqbal clues us in that this appeal is one of his secrets to throwing successful events: find the cult.
“We find the crowd, and figure out what makes them breathe,” he says, illustrating with another Livescape brand, Rockaway. “These guys eat, drink, sleep, rock music. It’s a culture, right? So we take that and create a brand around events, get these community members to come mingle, and find sponsors who resonate with them.”
“My payoff is bringing out a side of yourself that even you didn’t know existed.”
As we speak, three installments of It’s The Ship are already in the works for 2019 – from Singapore, China, and Japan. For Iqbal, this is the pinnacle of his events management career so far – and it has been an illustrious one, to say the least.
He first discovered his knack for curating parties studying in Melbourne. “We looked for dying clubs and bars, and told them we’ll pack their place for a cut of the profits, and control of the door,” Iqbal shares.
This is where he learnt another secret to throwing a good party: creating the right mix of people. “Any event with all the same sort of people is boring! You want to meet people from different backgrounds; get people to really step outside their comfort zones,” he says. Curating your guest-list is so important.”
Iqbal cools off in a Salvatore Ferragamo sweater while sporting the Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Horoblack on his wrist.
BR 03-92 Horoblack
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‘Everybody wants to change the world, we want to change yours’
As the son of prominent businessman Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin, one could say Iqbal had entrepreneurship in his blood. Still, his talents are expressed in ways true to his personality – fun and fearless, with a contagious excitement.
“I’m not a materialistic person,” Iqbal starts, “but I spend on experiences. These etch in my memory and become my inspiration, and a lot of people at Livescape are like that as well.”
This may be why while many of his ilk pursue life-changing achievements, Iqbal seeks to create the milestones in their lives instead. “I want people to meet for the first time, fall in love, and get married at my event,” he says. “My payoff is bringing out a side of yourself that even you didn’t know existed.”
Iqbal may be a new father, but he’s clearly already a proud parent of what Livescape Asia has achieved. He regales us with many stories from the Ship, but also what it took it make it happen – having to set up the stage in under four hours, for example, or ensure security and comfort of 4,000 passengers. It’s The Ship is more than a party, according to Iqbal. It has been a life-changing vacation for many, reigniting their passion for life and forming new connections.
Like most organisers, Iqbal is comfortable away from the limelight. “We’re happy if you’re having a great time, because that’s what we built behind-the-scenes, from the ground up.”
That sure puts perspective to Livescape’s tagline: ‘Everybody wants to change the world, we want to change yours.’
It’s a little offbeat – but entirely in character – that numerous high-profile parties later, Iqbal’s most memorable event is still the first he ever organised: his alma mater’s prom night.
Should you get the chance to ask him about it, expect Iqbal to launch into a detailed account of the disasters of the night. It made the victory of pulling off the party that much sweeter.
Photography: Xerxes Lee from Awesome Image
Art direction and styling: Gan Yew Chin
Videography: Felix Khu
Grooming: Gavin Soh
Shot on location at Element Hotel Kuala Lumpur