Those who say Malaysia is lacking of talent to make good music must be blind, or in this case deaf. Granted that our local talents, least the ones we consider to be of International ‘standards’, do not get as much hype and backing from the music industry and these local talents are usually conveniently pushed aside by us in favour of a more popular International recording artiste with a bigger marketing push behind them. But are we really not talented at all?
The notion of “it comes and goes” is nowhere more true than here in Malaysia. Cool bands don’t remain “cool” nor do they stay “hot” for very long. Anyone remembers the original 60s TV’s O.A.G? Prema Lucas? Juliet The Orange? Innuendo?
Almost ten years ago, they were once promising breathe-of-fresh-airs whom we thought would be able to change our local music scene are now far and unheard of – drowned by the likes of Siti’s keroncong maids and Mat Rocks! But who are we to blame for such doldrums but ourselves? Malaysians are never known to be home supporters – just skeptics. Ask yourself if we have really been supporting any local acts at all? No wonder they’ve all pack-up and left for greener pastures with behind the desk jobs that actually pays! And our sweet old recording companies will of cause be investing in more Mawi’s and Siti’s. I don’t blame them either, least they have a supportive market.
On a brighter note, in the last one-year, five TALENTED individuals were out to prove that Malaysians can actually make good music after all. Malaysia kan selalu Boleh! Rising to prove skeptics wrong they are poised to take the music scene by storm, if they haven’t already converted the unbelievers into swooning fans! Despite only one of them is backed and funded by a huge music label, these five brave soulsters marks the beginning of a new renaissance of homegrown artistes, and for that I’m proud to introduce you to the Fab-5 Homemade Delights…
Who: SEAN GHAZI
Album: Semalam (2006)
Ingredient: A pinch of P.Ramlee, a dash of Sinatra, a little bit of luck and a whole lot of guts!
Nutritional Guide: This self-funded life-long dream for Sean may take a little while getting used to it. I thought it was weird the first time I heard it. But it soon grew on me. The album pulls no punches and the orchestra is just fabulous! More importantly Semalam is sung with clear sense of identity. Throw out any notions that Sean is pulling a Michael Buble and rehashing the Rat Pack. Songs represented here are as much our heritage as it is for Sean. Listening to his nod to the golden age of Malay-Jazz with the classic ‘Getaran Jiwa’ sung in the style of ‘Besame Mucho’ would, and his self-penned ‘Semalam’ is awe-inspiring!
Serving Suggestions: A cup of Latte and Biscotti
Album: Sangkar (2007)
Ingredient: Take Sade’s crooner voice and mix in together with influence from Incognito, The Brand New Heavies, and a sparkle of Roslan Aziz’s brand of magic
Nutritional Guide: The daughter to one of the country’s best crooners, Salamiah Hassan, Atilia may be blessed with good music genes. But do not shrug her off as just another celebrity’s offspring. She’s been working her ass off since 9 singing commercials, which we ALL have sing-a-long to, remember the ALWAYS COCA-COLA jingle? The album is a mix of contemporary Jazz and R&B laid with Melayu melodies molded in contemporary jazz ala Sheila’s heydays. But she’s no cheap knock-off. Her voice, untouched by formal training, is at once expansive and honeyed with a rare emotional depth which lacks from today’ pop artistes! Have a listen and you soon will agree too.
Serving Suggestions: Peach & Banana Crumble and Vanilla Ice Cream
Album: Mysticam (2006)
Ingredient: 1-part Globe-trotting Fashionista, 1-part clubbing veteran, and a risky passion
Nutritional Guide: If any local artiste were capable of releasing an album with a global feel, it would be Camelia. The once-upon-a-time Jazz singer whose stylish nature has made her the darling of the fashion world has traveled the globe and attended many a high-profile event. That exposure is clearly evident in her new album Mysticam. The album features chill-out music, which are perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon or a party at home. The laidback vibe may even be construed as being somewhat pretentious but with Camelia, it only seems natural. Given that the album is not the best work of such genre but it’s her risky endeavors that are worth the mentioned. She wrote and co-produced it with DJ Gabriel, and self-financed it as well. It is a risk perhaps, shiok sendiri you might say, but when you’re that passionate about your work, you are willing to take that risk and Mysticam personifies that passion.
Serving Suggestions: A glass of Cosmopolitan or Lemon Lime Bitter
Who: REZA SALLEH
Album: Smoke City EP (2007)
Ingredients: A simple no-frills attitude, a husky voice and heart-tugging lyrics
Nutritional Guide: If Rob Thomas came out with an EP like Smoke City rather than his shameful ass-shaking tunes of Lonely No More, he’ll still be cool. Taking only two-weeks to complete, Smoke City’s production is simple. Downright bare. But it suits the heart-on-sleeve music that he sings, complimented with his theme of love and frustration that modern living brings.
Serving Suggestions: Kopi-O and Kaya Toast
Who: NORYN AZIZ
Album: Alam Maya (2007)
Ingredient: The jazziness and grace of Sheila Majid, the soul of Ning Baizura, a sprinkle of Anita Sarawak’ boldness and garnish with some Erykah Badu’s quirkiness
Nutritional Guide: Yes, the girl who embodies the spirit of all the great DIVAS is bound for greater success in the music arena. Already a familiar face at the annual local Sunrise Jazz Festival, Noryn has made the R&B/jazz genres her forte with her powerfully weightless voice and blinding, exuberant live persona. Alam Maya is a collection of soft and relaxing chill out tunes which would be a great companion to unwind to after a stressful day or when you’re stuck in traffic. The album is both non-conventional yet contains a familiar hint of Malay melodies in it. Definitely someone to watch out for in the local scene.
Serving Suggestions: A glass of chiraz, cheese and crackers