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Saturday February 2, 2013

Salammusik poise for greater success

Conscious soul: Main man Salam works hard to introduce Salammusik’s empowering and positive
vibrations to music fans. Conscious soul: Main man Salam works hard to introduce Salammusik’s empowering and positive vibrations to music fans.

Roots reggae act Salammusik, which is critically considered and well-loved by the masses, is poised for big things.

ESTABLISHED in 2006, Salammusik has come a long way in the Malaysian music industry. Having started with two vocalists – Salam and Tip, the group now has 10 members.

Before Salam founded Salammusik, he was an ambitious student (sound and music design) at Limkokwing University. Having met many friends in the music industry, he opened up a studio in 2004 and started to record for many artistes and for himself too.

In 2006, he met Lebanese musician, Tip. They shared common thoughts about music and set off to start the Salam dream.

“Working with Tip is inspiring. He gave me lots of music knowledge,” said Salam in a recent interview.

For Salam (real name Ashraf Salam A.Azlan), any kind of music inspires him.

Influenced by reggae but also mixing various genres like rock, R&B and jazz into the music, Salammusik is now the talk-of-town.

Last November, the 24-year-old Salam and his crew won the best album award at the Anugerah Industri Musik Malaysia 2012 (AIM 19).

At the AIM awards, Salammusik’s self-titled album faced tough competition from the likes of Hujan, Nora, Mizz Nina and Stacy, but this bohemian outfit defied the odds.

On the award-winning album, the group collaborated with rapper Altimet, Zion Dread, Sayla and others. National laureate Datuk A. Samad Said’s lyrics were also set to a roots rock groove on Malam Doa, which reflected Salammusik’s diverse range of influences.

Golden standard: Salammusik now has Anugerah Industri Muzik credentials after picking up the
coveted best album award last November. Golden standard: Salammusik now has Anugerah Industri Muzik credentials after picking up the coveted best album award last November.

For Salam, who also produces the band’s music, the collaborative process has been one of his creative strengths.

Before the Salammusik album brought the group wider national attention, Salam also had a hand in the K.O. The Mixtape by DJ Fuzz and Malique, which picked up the best hip hop song award at the AIM awards in 2010.

If anything, Salam’s role in hit singles like Cerita Kedai Kopi (with DJ Fuzz and Malique) and Bangkit (with Altimet) gave him a respectable profile in the music industry.

As an independent recording act like Republic of Brickfields and Pure Vibracion, Salammusik has carried the torch for the homegrown reggae scene.

In fact, Salam has a big year ahead with the group’s second album O, which was launched last month. This new album, featuring 13 songs, strives for a broader music range with artistes like Altimet, Bouchra, Sayla, Zion Dread and Pitahati on board.

Curiously enough, the group also reissued its Salammusik album last month. It looks like it has two albums to introduce to the masses.

“We were also nominated for the best new artiste at AIM and we expected to win that. But bagging the best album of the year was such a great honour,” said Bulya, the group’s drummer, who is more than happy to play gigs with material from Salammusik and O sharing the spotlight.

Apart from the affable Salam, the group includes two vocalists (Tip and Eyza Bahra), four horn players (Payung, Jaz, Djambul and Ferdy), percussionist (Bulya) and two guitarists (Ammar Habir and Kamal Razali).

People say less is more but Salammusik has redefined the term by having 10 members in the group.

“All of us have the same passion, which is music. To keep a big group together is pretty simple. We do what we love and we take care of each other,” said Salam.

Salam also added that he doesn’t mind making the group bigger and encouraged budding musicians to join Salammusik.

As a band, Salammusik has toured many places (reggae gigs and acoustic nights) around Malaysia, including festival spots at Urbanscapes and Rock The World in the Klang Valley last year.

“Live performances are the best to do! And we love to travel around the country to spread our music,” he added.

With a band manager based in the Netherlands, Salammusik also has an opportunity to take its music to Europe.

The hard-driving Tunggu Dulu, which features rapper Zion Dread, entered the Denmark music charts.

“Our songs are also being played in London as many Malaysian students have embraced our music.”

Famed for socially-aware lyrics and reggae-infused music, the band retained its sound and flavour on the newly released O.

The emphasis now, according to Salam, is on poetry. The album title itself holds weight and meaning.

O is a symbol for the circle of life; its continuity and unity that encompasses the cycle of life,” said Salam.

Touching topics that are close to the heart, fans can expect a new musical journey on O, that examines the human condition, unity, love, dreams and life.

The future certainly looks bright for Salammusik. The group represents the continuity and evolution of reggae music in Malaysia, a genre which has legions of local fans and followers. And it looks like the cycle won’t be broken anytime soon.

“This is what we love to do. It’s a platform for us to express ourselves and the music we make is for the people,” concluded Salam.

An enhanced version of this story came out in the Jan 17 edition of The Star Editor’s Choice, which is a free downloadable app available on tablet devices. More details on the band at