Experience different genres by holding concerts and fests
IT HAS certainly been a month of drama in numerous ways — the severe haze, plastic toy frenzy, the strange lack of rain and then torrential downpours, the usual crazy driving, an assortment of dogs in the middle of whichever road I seem to be on, and my bouts of flu and food poisoning.
To escape, I thought I would get out a bit and enjoy some music combined with good food and a few beers, as this generally gives a pleasant break from the craziness. Well, I like a little craziness to help me escape the craziness.
I know that does not make sense but taking part in triathlons, attending a concert or event and partying like a rockstar, are all great for working off tension.
The only problem is, there is not that many crazy concerts or festivals going on here. I assume that is in part due to the diversity of the Malaysian population, which means many such events are aimed at different audiences.
I would not particularly fancy going to a K-pop concert, chiefly because I would not understand a word but also of course, I am a bit too “mature” (we won’t say old) in my taste.
There is certainly no lack of talent out there, although I have observed that the industry seems very focused on a certain direction, which is a little conservative.
I am hoping the music scene can start to really explode here.
One of the ways to experience different and innovative music and artistes is through organising festivals.
For those who have been to or are in Britain, you will know that it is festival season, whether Glastonbury or Tea in the Park.
The country is abuzz with youths in wellington boots carrying sleeping bags and tents, travelling and watching all sorts of bands and singers doing their own thing. It is what makes summer that bit more exciting.
It is not all young children either; there are “mature” people like me travelling while taking in the wealth of talent and opening my ears, eyes and heart to new music genres and styles.
If you want an idea of the magnitude of an audience, Beyonce performed at Glastonbury in front of a reputed 175,000 — the biggest live audience of her career at the time.
This is small in comparison to The Rolling Stones’ million-strong crowd on Copacabana beach in Rio or Rod Stewart’s 3.5 million on the same beach in 1994. These would indeed be sights to behold.
Being the slightly less talented other half of a singer, songwriter and producer, I am privileged to meet a wealth of talented musicians from the very young to the very old; from the studied musician to the home-taught rockstar, all looking for more avenues to showcase their musical talent.
Growing up through the evolution of electronic music, I have been blessed to see the development of instruments, software, techniques and styles.
I was even a house DJ for a few years, teaching friends how to mix on turntables.
So, it is always difficult for me to listen to my friends on the social media saying how they went to this festival and saw Gorillaz or Beastie Boys or Radiohead.
At the same time, I know Malaysia has super talented bands and artistes who should be blowing our minds (and our speakers) with new and inspiring music.
However, there is still a large fraternity that want the status quo (excuse the band pun) to remain.
Malaysian music always seems to fit into three classes — jazz, rock or pop. However, I know of hip hop artistes, electronica and dance music producers as well as ethnic groups that play their traditional instruments, just to name a few other styles.
Of course, it is not financially sensible to have 50 festivals in a year in Malaysia (in Britain there are literally hundreds) and expect sell-out crowds.
There just would not be enough people to come and support these events, and then there is the organisation, the experience, the heat ... ah ... the heat, I wouldn’t like to camp out in this weather unless it was in a well-shaded area.
I was told many times how difficult it is to be an English language artiste in Malaysia, but I always look at Malaysians as international artistes if they perform in English.
Though, if you are a Malay language singer, you can also get across to Indonesia. There is a massive audience there.
For our Indian or Chinese brothers and sisters as well, there is a huge population in India and China.
Having a small percentage of the population there as a fan base would make up a massive audience.
Perhaps it is time to think of Malaysian artistes as internationals and figure out what to do about the world instead of just looking at our back garden and wondering how we will grow enough kangkung to feed ourselves, if you catch my drift.
At the same time, it will be really great to have enough outlets where smaller upcoming artistes can be heard, instead of everyone fighting desperately for a few precious chances to perform.
Here’s to a more outward and international music mentality in Malaysia.
Believe it, want it and no one can stop you owning it.
I love house, trip hop, hip hop, opera, classical, rock, folk, electronica, funk, soul, blues, pop, ambient, dub step, acapella… I just love music!
A weaver by trade and general manager by profession, Rob has been residing in Malaysia the past decade after moving here from England in search of adventure and professional experience. He’s a proud Hasher, a serious music lover and absent diver.