Bayangan joins forces with Sans Collective for music, media arts show at PJPAC

'We will be showcasing 'Dari Pinggiran' and songs from previous releases by Bayangan, in a full band format,' says Fikri, as he prepares to take to the stage with Bayangan at PJPAC on May 24. Photo: Handout

The evolution of the solo singer-songwriter role and the creation of new music wasn't on Fikri Fadzil's mind when he worked together with the Sans Collective for an arts project titled Dari Pinggiran Vol: 1 at an abandoned school in Taman Desa in Kuala Lumpur in September 2022.

Fikri, the main man behind the folk-based Bayangan, now sees collaboration as a way to expand his creative horizons.

Supported by the Krishen Jit Fund 2021, Dari Pinggiran Vol: 1 is an ongoing series by Sans Collective exploring abandoned sites and memories in Malaysia, using multimedia art to document and respond to the neglected "spirit of place."

Inspired by his participation in Sans Collective’s media art performance, Fikri recently released a new five-track Bayangan EP titled Dari Pinggiran, stemming from that arts project.

"My role in the collective is as a sound designer," says Fikri, referring to this loose multi-disciplinary collective of artists creating works for performance and exhibition.

Continuing its journey in storytelling through open-source research, scenography, and media art, the collective will next assist Bayangan in bringing Dari Pinggiran to life with a live performance at the Nero Space, PJPAC, in 1 Utama mall, Petaling Jaya on May 24.

The cover artwork of Bayangan's new EP 'Dari Pinggiran'. Photo: Handout The cover artwork of Bayangan's new EP 'Dari Pinggiran'. Photo: Handout

Bayangan's new EP draws inspiration from the decaying void and forgotten objects of a decades-old abandoned school, transformed partially into a village for migrant workers, characterized by its illegal status and tales of existential limbo.

"Now that I’ve released Dari Pinggiran, I’m certain that there will be more art-related projects under Bayangan, hopefully," says the KL-based musician.

Fikri, who has already released two albums with Bayangan, shares further details about the PJPAC showcase.

How did you become involved in the Sans Collective?

I had already worked with some of the members in Sans Collective prior to our collaboration, through other productions and creative related projects in the past. The collective staged their first performance at the old Five Arts Center in TTDI, and I was intrigued by their performance and process. After the show, I spoke to Bryan Chang and Syamsul Azhar, and floated the idea of a possible collaboration in the future.

Then I received a call that they’re looking for a sound designer for their George Town Festival performance in 2018 titled “The Misinterpreted Futures of George Town 2068”, and I grabbed the opportunity.

The main members of Sans Collective are Bryan (Chang), Syamsul (Azhar), Ali Alasri, and Armanzaki Amirolzakri. Myself, Dhavinder Singh, and Siew Yin, are permanent collaborators that are not involved in all projects.

How have you set up the upcoming show at PJPAC, and how does Sans Collective fit into the picture?

For the show at PJPAC this coming Friday, we will be showcasing Dari Pinggiran and songs from previous releases by Bayangan, in a full band format.

Sans Collective will be doing the visuals and lighting design for the night, as they have for the cover artwork and promotional materials in support of the release.

Did this new EP present you a unique opportunity to work on music specifically based on the 'Dari Pinggiran Vol:1' project in 2022? Did you write in a certain way to accommodate the themes?

I didn’t have any intention of recording an EP heading into the Dari Pinggiran Vol:1 project in 2022. We managed to speak to the people that were living there, hearing their stories as they were ‘stuck’ there, on the fringes of society. It was during the time spent working on the project there that sparked some sort of curiosity in exploring the idea of writing and possibly releasing an EP.

It was during these couple of weeks being at the space and returning back to the studio that I wrote the bulk of the songs on the Dari Pinggiran EP. I was working on the sound design aspect of the project, when the songs came to me almost in full form.

This kept recurring, and I just continued on writing and recording demos. It felt like a very natural process, with hints of automation (sans abstractness) to a certain extent, and I made sure not to interfere with it by introducing ideas outside of the experience I had working on the project. But I was in the songs, like a method actor.

It wasn’t until earlier this year that I had the chance to really sit down and work on the recording of the songs, which took about two to three months to fully complete.

Is collaboration key when combining music with multimedia and visual art to amplify social issues and create a greater impact on audiences?

I think the combination of music and media or visual art is as impactful as music and moving images (film), where one communicates and compliments the other. This combination or communication between the mediums, in itself can be a profound experience, when done right.

In Malaysia, a group like Bayangan is rare for operating outside the pop rock scene. Is there already a multi-disciplinary scene established and just awaiting a wider audience?

I think there’s a loose scene of multidisciplinary collaborations between musicians and other artists, mostly in electronic and experimental music, but it feels too soon to call it a scene or community.

In the Malaysian context, it is considered rare because of the nature of arts communities in Malaysia, where we live and produce works in silos. I think it’s just a matter of getting out of our own fortified 'tempurungs' once in a while, and explore, observer, and get to know other arts communities and their works. The connections will be forged naturally.

Bayangan's Dari Pinggiran' showcase is on at Nero Space, PJPAC, 1 Utama mall, Petaling Jaya tomorrow (May 24). Showtime: 8pm. Support acts include Upstart Incorporated and Francoe. The show is presented by Studio Bayangan, Sans Collective and Soundscape Records.

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