Tag Archives: Malaysia

Artist Profiles: Darmas


Six young musicians formed Darmas, a band propelled by the rhythms they derive from traditional Malay classics like the Joget (a traditional Malay dance from Malacca influenced by the Portuguese colonial dance of Branyo), Zapin (a Malay dance found in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei) and the Canggung (Malay dance with Thai influences).

The central element in Darmas’ sound comes from the kulintangan, an ancient series of gongs from the Sabah tribes, presenting a kaleidoscope mix of Malaysian eclectic sounds.

Darmas released its debut album “Teja” in 2019.


Teja (2019)


Artist Profiles: The Abonation

The Abonation

Started in 2004, the band, originally called TIK, performed in many places in Perak, northwestern Malaysia. The first members of the band, which are original line up for The Abonation, were Megat, Nicky and included Ap, as the sessionist then.

In December 2005 they moved to Kuala Lumpur to start a new journey there, and met with Sid and Iwan… making it a 5 piece band.. The sounds and rhytm of The Abonation, was created by every member of the band, with differences and variety of music influences, which were then, build and crafted in a harmonious tunes.

The Abonation started as a streetband and has played in many kinds of events and various venues in Kuala Lumpur, including hotels, cultural center, exhibitions, schools and “now, we’re still playing on the streets, as some kind of exercise…”

Currently, The Abonation are still experimenting their sounds of the fusion music, combining the nusantara beats and rhythms, bringing it up to a new level, experimenting with the magic of music.


Birth ‎(Al-Ameen Serve Holdings Sdn.Bhd.)


Artist Profiles: Diplomats of Drum

Diplomats of Drum

The Diplomats of Drum are a band from Malaysia that comprises of each ethnic race in the country. The Diplomats fuses Malaysian melodies and rhythms with global beats and melodies, creating a unique brand of global Fusion. The global beats that they have pioneered have influenced many movements where they have played and they are highly regarded as the most exciting and promising youthful, ethnic-flavored percussion ensemble.

Born from pure creativity and experimentation with rhythms and percussion, the Diplomats of Drum started as an energetic bunch of street performers, slowly changing into a serious all percussion ensemble. Their enthusiasm is infectious and their diverse unified beats, combining showmanship and acrobatic stunts in their performances attract audiences. Eventually they evolved into a global fusion band. But they have not forgotten their humble beginnings, and have incorporated their drumline like percussion style and rhythms into their stage performances.

Influences include Indian classical vocals, Gaelic chants, traditional Malay rhythms, Afro beats and Latin grooves, Bhangra rhythms, Scottish Bagpipe, sitar, jembe and a drumline.

We’re a bunch of happy go lucky noise mongers who love music and everything about it. After many years of being session musicians, we decided to get together to form the Diplomats of Drum.”

We officially got together as a band in 2006, but have been playing as percussionists for some time before that. We decided to progress and maintain the band concept after being asked to perform at a friends charity gig. We liked that way we sounded, so we stuck to playing as a band, combining our percussive skills with the new found melodies, and added a few more members to complete the gang!

We’re a hodge podge of soundscapes! What we did is, we took the traditional melodies and rhythms of Malaysia, and fused them with instruments and sounds from other countries! In particular, we love Celtic music…so that’s why we lean a bit more towards it. Hence the term global fusion that is closely associated with us. Plus, we incorporated the percussions into the band, so we’re pretty loud!


Artist Profiles: Kani’d


Kani’d (meaning cousins) is inspired by the ancestral songs of the Kelabits from central Borneo, and draws upon the wealth of the musical traditions of the Orang Ulu tribes along the Baram. The original compositions learnt from their grandparents, uncles and aunties evolve into dynamic improvisation, and arrangements of traditional styles bridge the ancient and the contemporary.

Among the first musical group from Sarawak to sing and play traditional music in a whole new way, the members of Kani’d are trained in Western classical traditions. Their unique blend of instruments which include the traditional sape lute, musical sensibilities, and ethnic traditions results in an original voice, created from and reflecting the rich multicultural heritage of the musicians themselves.


Artist Profiles: Malaysian Dhol Federation

Malaysian Dhol Federation

The Malaysian Dhol Federation?s humble beginnings were traced back to the year 1996 in the city of Ipoh, Perak. It all started out when one young lad picked up an interest in the Bhangra drum (dhol) after watching it being played by an actor in a Bollywood movie.

Later in the year, the group?s founder, Kiranjit Singh, bought his first dhol, and from there onwards, embarked on a mystical journey of drumming. At first, Kiran played the dhol at family functions, impressing family and friends, and later got the idea of forming a Bhangra group, aptly named Revolutionary Boy?s of Bhangra, where he would play the Dhol and his friends would dance to the bhangra beat. As time progressed, the dancers took an interest in the drum and Kiran started teaching them how to play it properly. By the end of 1999, Kiran and 9 other drummers formed the Ipoh Dhol Federation.

The Ipoh Dhol Federation first performed at Punjabi weddings and birthday parties, doing escorts and small stage performances. Slowly but surely, the group grew in maturity and started adding acrobatic stunts to its already fantastic playing skills. Ipoh Dhol Federation performed in its first big stage performance outside of Ipoh during the first ever Bhangra Nite in Atmosphere TwelveSI in 2003.

After moving to Kuala Lumpur, Kiran started looking for dhol players to jam with, but unfortunately couldn?t locate any. Hence, he decided to teach the art of dhol drumming to anyone who wanted to learn it, not looking at age, gender, race, religion or caste. His first class, which was at his home, had only 5 students, and these 5 have become his main drummers, as well as teachers, now. During the early part of 2004, Kiran started receiving more and more requests to teach the dhol and decided to open up a centre in Wisma Tatt Khalsa, Jalan Raja Bot. At this time, Kiran was still performing with the Ipoh Dhol Federation.

In August 2004, Kiran was requested to gather a group of 40 dhol drummers for the Aman Peace celebrations in Dataran Merdeka. It was from this event that the idea of evolving into the Malaysian Dhol Federation, combining the drummers from Ipoh with the new ones from Kuala Lumpur, was fueled by his second in command, Ravinderjit Singh and in September 2004, Malaysian Dhol Federation was formed. At that time, the group had 15 core drummers, which has been trimmed down to 7, due to work commitments.

“The federation now has around 45 students of all races, from all over the country, showing that music, and in particular, drumming, really breaks down the barrier of race and caste, bringing all of us closer. We hope to expand our classes to the whole of Malaysia and expose the whole country, if not the world, to the art of dhol drumming.”

Small performances under the banner of Malaysian Dhol Federation followed and the group was suddenly in danger of falling by the way side and being labeled as just another Punjabi group.

A change of concept brought new overtures for the group. The idea of combining traditional dhol beats with modern music was brought forward by Ravinderjit and immediately accepted by other members. In came guitarists, a jazz drummer, a keyboardist and a tabla player and soon Malaysian Dhol Federation started churning out some old school funk, jazz, rock and dance numbers, combining them with the sounds of the dhol.

As time progressed, so did the group. The extraordinary musical properties of the dhol was skillfully explored and combined as a whole with modern music and the effect was simply beautiful.

With this new concept, Malaysian Dhol Federation started receiving more attention and due respect in the entertainment industry.

Drummers from the Malaysian Dhol Federation were called in for a special collaboration with local reggae artist, Sasi the Don, on his second album. Due to the popularity of that collaboration, the Malaysian Dhol Federation drummers were then roped in by none other than Reshmonu, Malaysia?s R&B giant, for his big hit, “Hey Waley Waley.” Currently, the Malaysian Dhol Federation drummers ?beat away? with him every time he has a performance.

The Malaysian Dhol Federation has been featured on local television and radio shows as well. Their first TV appearance was on TV3’s Malaysia Hari Ini (MHI) in 2004. In January 2005, Malaysian Dhol Federation played live on RED104.9?s Spin Local, entertaining listeners with their own brand of funk n? dhol. They later performed on local TV talk show, Latte at 8 (8TV) and was clearly one of the audience’s favorites as they moved and danced to the ferocious drumming and rhythms of the group.

The group accepted to join the One World Beat project, a charity organization of drummers from around the world, who raise money for the poor children of the world, in the hope of totally eradicating poverty.

In August 2005, the Malaysian Dhol Federation hosted its first ever project, called Drum Circles. This event was a community based project, aimed at bringing people from different ethnic backgrounds together through the beat of the drum, bonding relationships and forging ties among all Malaysians, taking up the challenge from the government of creating Bangsa Malaysia.

The group disbanded in 2006.


Artist Profiles: Mohd Kamrulbahri Hussin

Mohd Kamrulbahri Hussin – Photo © Suchens.com for Sarawak Tourism Board

Multi-instrumentalist Mohd Kamrulbahri Hussin (a.k.a. Kamrul) is the leader of Malaysian world music band Asika. As the head of Asika, Kamrul has performed as a multi-instrumentalist, composer and music director in all manner of professional productions nationally and overseas. His performances include traditional and modern music. Major in percussion, Kamrul is a remarkable percussionist and traditional music artist. Combined with his style and skill, Kamrul has become one the leading Malaysian percussionists.

His skill, dedication and passion especially with traditional percussion has led to international tours, with performances in New York, Paris, London, Toronto and other. Kamrul also has a strong passion on Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppet). Graduated in traditional and western percussion at National Arts Culture and Heritage Academy (ASWARA). Kamrul has been awarded for Best Arts Motivator from National University of Malaysia in 2002.

Instruments – gendang, rebana, serunai, conga, jembe, darbuka, vocals, rebab and more.


Artist Profiles: Artist Profiles: Mohd Fuad Mohammad

Mohd Fuad Mohammad – © Suchens.com for Sarawak Tourism Board

Pianist and accordionist Mohd Fuad has graduated from National Arts Culture and Heritage Academy (ASWARA). He is currently a sessionist for many traditional and modern music performances.

He is a talented young composer in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and has been involved in performances at Bangsawan (Malay Theatre Musical) and Shadow Puppet performances in New York.

He is a member of Malaysian world music band Asika.


Artist Profiles: Mathew Ngau Jau

Mathew Ngau Jau (right) with Lan-e Tuyang – Photo by Suchens.com for Sarawak Tourism Board

Mathew Ngau Jau is a proficient sape (Sarawakian lute) musician, who learned how to play the instrument during his childhood at Long Semiyang, Ulu Baram in Sarawak (Malaysia). After his school education, and having pursued a career in teaching, Ngau Jau came under the guidance of the late Tusau Padan, a master sape musician and artist.

Ngau Jau formed the traditional group Lan-e Tuyang (meaning among friends) together with his late uncle Uchau Bilung.

Since the death of Tusau Padan, Matthew has become the leading promoter of the art of sape music and also the art of painting Kenyah traditional motifs on bark. He is also an expert in the Orang-Ulu warrior dance and is a skilled blow-pipe exponent. Combining all these skills, Mathew is much sought after to promote the traditional arts of Sarawak.

With Lan-e Tuyang, Ngau Jau has performed at numerous venues throughout the globe as well as tourism promotions in Europe, Australia and Asia.


Artist Profiles: Lan-e Tuyang

Matthew Ngau Jau (Lan-e Tuyang) – Photo courtesy of Rainforest World Music Festival

Lan-e Tuyang (meaning among friends) was initially a duo from Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo, consisting of Matthew Ngau Jau and his late uncle Uchau Bilung. Both musicians play the sape, a long indigenous Borneo lute carved from solid wood. They play music based on Kenyah (Orang Ulu) traditional music. The duo performed many international concerts as well as in Sarawak tourism promotional events in Europe, Australia and Asia.

In 2009, Uchau Bilung passed away and the group continued under the leadership of Matthew Ngau Jau. Lan-e Tuyang re-formed with a new format, featuring three sape players and one percussionist. They performed with this new lineup at the 2009 Rainforest World Music Festival.


Artist Profiles: Kinabalu Merdu Sound

Kinabalu Merdu Sound at Rainforest World Music Festival in 2009 – Photo by Angel Romero

Kinabalu Merdu Sound is a world music band from Sabah (Malaysia). The band plays Sabahan ethnic music with bamboo musical instruments.

Kinabalu Merdu Sound’s roots began in 2001 with a modest group of 5. To reach its objective of reviving traditional ethnic music at the brink of extinction due to modernization, the band aimed to recruit school children and youth as its members. Kinabalu Merdu Sound’s efforts have been rewarded as the group has now grown into an assembly of 600 musicians.

This group has now performed throughout Sabah, Kuala Lumpur and the Rainforest World Music Festval in Sarawak. There have even been performances in Jakarta (Indonesia), Korea and Japan. Kinabalu Merdu Sound has emerged as champions in the national level ‘Ilham Desa” (loosely translated it means ‘countryside inspirations’) competition which was organized by the Ministry of Rural and Federal Development held on the 14th June 2007 at UPM in Selangor.

The use of the bamboo as a musical instrument in traditional music had its beginnings in 1945. Among the earliest instruments were the Tagunggak (percussion instrument), sompoton (wind instrument), bungkau (Jew’s harp) and gendang (drums). However, traditional music played with bamboo instruments was not the music enthusiasts’ favorite style at the time because it was a farmer’s past time and was played only during harvest festivals. The group has undoubtedly succeeded in changing this conception and begun to raise a widespread admiration towards the once-rejected bamboo melodies.


Muzik Tradisi Instrumental