Long-time readers of this domain would note the fact that I have been an ardent and loyal supporter of the Festival Melayu Ada (FMA) event when it was first conceived and had its successful run circa March-May 2009. Celebrating its first anniversary, the good people at Cokelat Events & Production have decided to resurrect the event in tribute to Hajjah Esah Cafe. The kind people of the cafe had been a strong advocate and supporter of the FMA series, allowing the artistes to use their outdoor premises for the shows to be realised. Now that the cafe is about to close down, the event not only will celebrate its first year of existence but also as a form of gratitude to the cafe.
Looking at the line-up of artistes on the poster, I see familiar names and regulars of past FMA events like my distant cousin Ard (Adha), Zaibaktian, Boy Raven, NSA (No Strings Attached), Tengku Nurlela, Diana, Samsuri, Elmi Zulkarnain, Shafyre, Rafaat Haji Hamzah and Nizamulmuluk. One year on, they’ve added new acts to the list like Aqmal, Diorama and Kraton who are all nominated at the upcoming anugeraHitz.sg event. A pity though that I am unable to attend the event as I have prior engagements with the family. But I do hope that you guys would set your Saturday, and if possible Sunday as well, aside to support this event as the acts on show are of decent quality…
Best of all, the whole event is FREE!!!
I apologise to those who have been waiting for this entry to go up since the festival ended more than a week ago. I was feeling under the weather the past week and simply had no mood to post this up. You won’t feel the need to type an entry if you’re down with a bad case of influenza, plus coughing and a sore throat to add to the “gloss”. Anyway, since I had posted three entries in three days over the May Day long weekend, I thought the blog and especially its owner, needed a break for awhile.
The host for the event – Shahrin Azhar…
The Sunday before last, 3rd May 2009, saw the closing of the Festival Melayu Ada (FMA) quadrilogy series. Compared to FMA1 & FMA3 that I attended but did not manage to stay all the way till the end, this time I came just before the main acts began their sets and stayed all the way till the end, even though the next day was a working day and it kinda dragged on till close to 11:00pm.
Tengku Adil relaxed before going on stage…
The reason why I did not attend the day event at the Malay Heritage Centre was because I was already feeling the after-effects of the previous Saturday‘s heat-sapping and energy-draining time spent at East Point Mall shopping centre during the Anugerah auditions. Yes, the unbearable heatwave does have its negative impact in that it completely drains you. So the day was spent resting at home with my family and typing out my thoughts on the auditions.
When I reached the event venue, I was greeted by the security guards on duty asking if I had taken my temperature. Since I was not running a fever, I just said yes out of convenience. It was then that I noticed that they had a big cooler fan placed right smack in front of their faces whilst the audience sitting under the tentages nearby were busy fanning themselves even though there were fans around, but do not seem to be working as well as they would have liked to. Some kind of royal treatment these guards were getting, I thought.
I spotted a few friends and joined them and started to make small talk whilst waiting for the show to start. It was here and during one of the conversations that this techie idiot found out that he could make use of the wifi services on his handphone and surf the web without having to worry about paying the extra charges one would associate with surfing via the handphone. The Heritage Centre is wired up for wifi usage in case you don’t already know. Thanks to bro Sulaiman for pointing that out to me. It was heartening to see the crowd that came, was the most they had throughout the whole series. All four sections of the tentages were filled to the brim and from where I was, I could spot Zoul (M. Nasir‘s younger brother) and renowned lyricist Zaidy Nandir sitting somewhere at the back, taking in the proceedings that unfolded.
East Mode Sanskrit doing their thing…
The last slot of the FMA series (Suara III) was scheduled to be held at the Outdoor Stage of the Heritage Centre at 8:00pm before taking a short break out of respect for the Isyak prayers. Somehow the event only started proper right after the prayers. Looking at my watch and the line-up in store, I was sure the show would not end at 10:00pm as planned. For the record, the programme line-up that were listed to perform were East Mode Sanskrit, No Strings Attached, Konspirazy, Klutz, Tengku Adil, Rafaat Haji Hamzah, Ard (feat. Zakiah), Raven and Zaibaktian. The event was ably hosted by Shahrin Azhar, no stranger to our local entertainment industry.
No Strings Attached giving us a punchier performance than the previous week…
I don’t think I need to go into detail as to each and every performance that went on that night, as I had already done so in my previous entries on the FMA series I attended in the past. Most of the sets were repeats of previous songs being performed before. The only difference was, with a bigger stage and supposedly better sound system, they could perform without an acoustic setting, which was the standard norm of the past three editions of the series. However the sound system was very much left to be desired as the singers’ vocals were constantly drowned by the music that accompanied them. This was very much evident if the performers had their fellow band members or sessionists accompanying them.
In the case of Tengku Adil, he was an exception. He sang two songs which he did not perform before and they were “Aku Cinta Kamu” and “Mariam“, of which the latter would soon be heard on our local radio as his new single. The young man took the trouble to relate how the song came about and it all began with the annual The New Paper New Face contest back in 2000, where the winner, Mariam Daskalopoulou, set many hearts aflutter with her astounding beauty, yours truly included. I think it is quite a great tribute to someone you’ve had a crush on and to the guy’s credit, she is currently a part of his friendship circle. I was hoping for his sake, it would be a fairytale come true. But that’s another story to tell altogether.
Rafaat Hamzah being interviewed by Shahrin before he began his poetry recital…
I quite enjoyed Rafaat Hamzah‘s poetry recital segment. This guy is simply amazing and an absolute genius. I just wondered why it took me so long to actually sit in one of his recital sessions, to listen to the ideas that poured forth his deep, intellectual mind. By the way, he recited his two compositions, that were taken off his book “Yang Bilang“. Correct me please if I err with this piece of information. Behind those cleverly crafted words, one could easily detect the dry wit and sly criticisms towards the respective subjects mentioned, and I’m sure those who listened intently would say, “Yes, he’s right!!!” to every line that was recited. It was made more enjoyable to watch when he was joined on stage by members of Konspirazy, Raven and Ijam from Malaysian group Flop Poppy accompanying him with the backing music.
Zakiah & Ard performing “Taman Ungu”, a song composed by the talented former…
I was unsure whether it was due to technical glitches or miscommunication or even due to the fact that the show had over-run, but there were no performances by Klutz or Konspirazy as was stated in the programme line-up, which was a pity as I personally did not get enough of their respective performances the week before, in the third edition of the series. As for the finale segment, well, all I could say that it was better, no, best forgotten. I felt quite disappointed after all the waxing lyrical I made throughout the festival, only to be undone by the finale.
Raven had the audience bobbing their heads to the beats of their sound…
For those of you who were not there, well, the finale segment was made up of the main acts singing one another’s hit single. However it was very much apparent that there were no prior practise before going on stage and they were either off-key, out-of-tune or have no idea how the song goes. I thought it was something well-worth recording but halfway through, I had half the mind to stop the recording as it was very frustrating to see and a very bad end to such a positive event. I just hope in future if they were to have this event again or have a similar segment, the vocalists would have all come prepared. After all the positive talk, unfortunately it had to end on a whimper.
Zaibaktian performing none other than “Lelaki Baru“…
The finale, however, should not be used as the barometer to gauge the event as a whole. One has to expect mistakes to be made, since this is afterall a new project that was brave enough to have been executed, where few dared to venture. Overall, I should say that the festival has been a commendable success. For one, the idea to have such an event without first thinking of commercial returns, even in this bad economic climate, is in itself something that is worth applauding. Another thing that is worth mentioning is that the festival allows independent / new talents that are have not / have been heard on radio but not / seldom featured on television or print media, the platform to showcase their talents to the watching audience.
Wan from the duo of Wan & Eddy performing during the finale… Quite a good practice for him as he qualified to be in the Top 50 of the current Anugerah competition…
Through such an interactive event, media and entertainment people would be able to converge and get to know one another, increase their social and working network as well as plan paths to collaborate in future projects / productions. Some might complain and say why make it a non-paying festival??? Most of these artistes are new in the industry, some barely have a proper direction and it is through this event that people would hopefully come to learn of their existence. Perhaps through time, wide media coverage, promotion through word-of-mouth would we then see charges being made and I would not mind paying to watch these new talents cos from what I have see thus far, they deserved to be paid to watch, every single one of them. Singapore is definitely not in dearth of good talent waiting to be unleashed on a mainstream level. The fact is, are we, the consumers, ready for them???
Some of you eagle-eyed visitors to my blog must be wondering why I typed the word “Revisited” instead of “Review” in the title header above. For one, I feel that the latter word brings with it a lot of seriousness into the piece that I would be typing. Very much informative as well as carrying weight in passing thoughts across. That’s how most reviews are anyway. But after witnessing the abovementioned event last Saturday 25th April 2009 at Taman Warisan Singapura (Malay Cultural Heritage of Singapore), all thoughts of being too serious and / or analytical go out of the window.
Wan & Eddy opened the show with two songs…
But wait a minute. I can still hear some people asking what in the world is Festival Muzik Ada??? Yes, there are people who still do not know about this event, even though it has been promoted extensively in Facebook, as well as typed about in this domain last month in early March 2009. Heck, even a part-time writer for Berita Harian had written an article about it a couple of weekends ago. I saw a prominent figure in the local entertainment industry asking one of her contacts in Facebook what the event was all about. So yes, into the third instalment in its quadrilogy, there are still those who are unfamiliar with this event. Which is why before I move on, I feel the need to requote what was said in its official Facebook Group page.
Tengku Nur Lela with her hit single “Cinta Saat Akhir“…
Melayu Ada is a festival that celebrates Malay music and poetry. It hopes to be a platform especially for budding and aspiring talents who wish to showcase their unreleased works and/or works in progress. The festival also acts as a sharing and interaction ground amongst musicians, writers and enthusiasts alike. A chill-out weekend that is not only filled with camaraderie, but also a worthwhile interchange of ideas and experiences across individuals, including established artistes.
A video recording I took of Tengku Nur Lela‘s performance…
This noble effort is the concerted brainchild of local artiste Zaibaktian and famous actor / poet / director Rafaat Hamzah and is produced by the joint efforts of LeftWriteCentre and COKELAT Events & Production. Its first and second editions were held at Hajjah Esah Cafe at Bussorah Street on 1st and 28th March 2009 respectively. The third instalment of this quadrilogy was supposed to have been held at the same place again. Somehow licensing issues with regards to holding it at its usual venue, threatened to put the event off at the last minute, only for the kind intervention of the Malay Heritage Centre to resurrect it again.
Klutz was quite a favourite with the audience judging by their reactions…
When I first got to know of its initial “cancellation”, I immediately sms-ed Ard (he of Bhumiband fame) to ask what was going on. He said that the show was not cancelled, but was supposed to be held on the second floor of the cafe. Based on my experience in its inaugural edition, coming at exactly noon was not a feasible idea since the show would be stopped for awhile in respect of the Zuhur prayers. And since they only received last minute confirmation that the show would go on, I thought that it would definitely start around 2-ish. Upon reaching the cafe a few minutes past 2pm, I saw that nobody familiar was around, so I thought perhaps they were upstairs setting things up. So I took the liberty to walk along the mall just to kill time. That’s when I met Janz who was manning his family shop (Mona J Bridal & Boutique) and he told me that the show had shifted to the Malay Heritage Centre. Thanks bro for the information!!!
Konspirazy performing their hit “Bahtera Cinta“… Below is a recording of their performance…
What was supposed to start at 12 in the afternoon, eventually began at 3:15pm. This was to be expected, what with all the mumbo-jumbo that went on, the hassling for a place and the shifting of equipment from the cafe to the new venue. Fortunately the distance between the original place and the Heritage Centre was less than 300 metres away but the walk still felt like a long one, no thanks to the heatwave that’s been hitting the country for the past week. On hindsight, I was thankful that I did not bring my younger daughter along as she would have felt uncomfortable in the heat. The elder one was at my parents’ place for the weekend. The wife who was supposed to accompany me, ended up staying home due to a bad bout of diarrhoea, which explained why we did not attend my old friend, Firdaus‘ birthday party for his daughter later on. Apologies Fir if you are reading this.
Fyno‘s performing of “Munajat Kasih” tugged at the heartstrings due to its deep message from within…
In my humble opinion, Festival Melayu Ada: Fasa Ke-3 certainly was not a serious affair to start with. Ok before anyone starts to think that I’m about to slate and denounce the show, no, I’m actually telling it as it is. When I said it’s not “serious”, for those who were there, I’m sure you would agree with me that the event was set in a relaxed and chilled atmosphere, filled with lots of friendly banter between the audience and the various acts that performed on that day. Not even the sweltering heat could spoil the mood of those who came from all over the country. And being understanding and almost sympathetic to their earlier plight, I think as the minutes progressed, the delay in starting it proper was all but forgotten by those who came to watch the event.
Rafaat Hamzah, one of the co-organisers in deep conversation with Sharil of No Strings Attached / X-Tech / Ossuary…
Compared to the very first one that I watched last month, the series has most definitely grown in stature and the number of people who attended has grown in size. I reckoned that with the crowd that had gathered the other day, perhaps not doing it at Hajjah Esah Cafe was a total blessing in disguise. I just couldn’t see how the crowd which numbered between 150-200 people (a decent turnout given the hot weather and our community’s lack of interest / ignorance for independent acts), could possibly squeeze along the mall where the cafe is situated, without blocking the entrances to the other shops. For now, events such as these would be able to attract a decent crowd based on its good network and promotion via word-of-mouth as well as through the popularity of online portals like Facebook.
Tengku Adil began his set by singing “Cinta Ini Membunuhku“, made famous by Indonesian group D’Masiv and below is a video recording of his own hit single “Itu Yang Pasti“…
Last Saturday‘s event was for me, another introduction to acts I have not gotten to acquaint myself with at the second edition of the series, which I did not attend due to prior commitments. Groups like Klutz and Konspirazy as well as Fyno of Cucu Dato’ Merah fame, were something new to the ears. Their singles “Kerna Kau Aku“, “Bahtera Cinta” and “Munajat Kasih” respectively, have been rising up the local charts so it was good to finally see them live in action and they most definitely did not disappoint with their individual showmanship. I was also pleasantly surprised to know that my reservist mate, Fuzz, happens to be Klutz‘s lead singer. Singapore is indeed a small place to live in.
Yunos Erksan tries to forget “Mariam“, to no avail…
As promised by the organisers, this event is a good “breeding ground” for new talents to showcase their wares. This was evident when we had the duo of Wan & Eddy opening the show and afterwards we had the likes of Zakiah and No Strings Attached. The latter are actually no strangers to the local music scene as two of their members, Fadz and Sharil, are from X-Tech, yes, those guys who gave excellent performances week in and out at last year’s Anugerah Band. I wonder if being in this group is a side project for them, but it was indeed nice to see them performing melancholic songs for a change as opposed to the high-octane performances we were used to seeing in last year’s reality TV series. Quite surreal to see Fadz singing without his trademark style of jumping around and high screeches, but I enjoyed their performance all the same.
No Strings Attached performing “Indah“…
If in the first edition, we had a guitar-playing female singer in Diana Nightingale (who now reminds me of Malaysia‘s Yuna in terms of image), this time round we had a newbie Zakiah taking over the mantle. For those of you who would like to get acquainted with her, you can go to YouTube and view Tengku Nur Lela‘s music video “Cinta Saat Akhir“, where she is the model in the clip. Zakiah has a distinct style different from Diana and her voice is slightly raspy. While I appreciate her performance, somehow I felt she kinda spoilt it by constantly speaking in English when it was evident who her audience were. It would have been ok had there been just the younger generation who speak and understand the language but there were also some of those from the older generation amongst the crowd.
Zakiah is one talent to look out for in the near future…
Being new and distinctively shy, she is most definitely forgiven and she would do well to improve on the interaction and communication bit. Minimising the slang could also be another option, as we all know how turned off it could be to some people, given that our community is extremely critical of people speaking with a Caucasian twang, no matter if it’s American, British or Australian. To them, it’s like putting up a false front. I’m sure you guys know what I’m talking about. Hope Zakiah does not take offence with what I have to say and use my words to improve on her future performances. She has the potential with good looks and talent to boot. All she needs to do is gain her confidence performing on a bigger stage and smoothen all the other rough edges.
Elmi reciting his poetry with Yunos accompanying him…
The event was not all about singing acts though. Two thirds into the show and during Yunos Erksan‘s set, he invited local poet Elmi Zulkarnain to recite his poetry and a beautiful one it is I must say. Entitled “Anak Melayu Teguh Berdiri“, it highlighted the positive aspects of our community and repelled the negative characteristics that have become a stereotype to us. Just listening to it increased the burning passion and pride one feels as a Singaporean Malay, no matter what our ethnic roots are. It helped that Elmi read it with such gusto, till the mood was infectious enough for those who watched, to share his desire and cheered out loud once he was done. It felt like watching a very rousing political rally somehow, minus the politics and character assassinations.
Ard broke into an impromptu opening which showcased the creativity he possesses in him…
Ard singing his first single to hit the airwaves, “Aku Akan Hilang“…
The Festival Melayu Ada series has so far been a success from the two events that I attended. Not only has it forged a spirit of camaraderie and fellowship amongst the local musicians taking part, it has also created a sense of belonging amongst the regular audience who came to brave the rain and endured the heat from the sun rays. The event not only allowed new acts to shine and start from humble beginnings, it also gave some of them the platform to promote their hard work in the form of singles, EPs and full albums. A pity I did not manage to stay till the end on Saturday as I was forced to rush off home, but I believe those who stayed still could not get enough of it. Apologies for not saying my goodbyes to everyone there.
Zaibaktian with a new song entitled “Keagunganmu“…
The Festival Melayu Ada series will come to a closure this coming Sunday 3rd May 2009, and will be part of the Malay Arts Festival programme to be held at the Malay Heritage Centre, from 6pm onwards. The Malay Arts Festival however will be from 1-3 May 2009 from 11:00am-10:00pm. More details can be found by clicking here. This is your final opportunity to enjoy good, clean entertainment for free and see for yourself the strong spirit and bond that has been forged amongst artistes and supporters, not to mention the great music that our talented artistes are able to compose for your ears to savour. Like the term that is so often used and has become some sort of motto during the event, it is definitely “BAIK SEKALI!!!“. I leave you now with the poem written and recited by Elmi Zulkarnain entitled “Anak Melayu Teguh Berdiri“…
Video courtesy of Elmi Zulkarnain
Anak Melayu Teguh Berdiri
Ku Intip-intip, ku belek-belek
Inilah bicara bitara seorang seniman
Intipati untuk dicerna pendengar budiman
Aku kais sejarah bangsa
Zaman Sultan mabuk kuasa
Hingga zaman dijajah sengsara
Aku tinta apa yang patut dikata
Terus mencoret apa yang nyata
Tentang Melayu pantang menyerah
Tentang Melayu yang enggan kalah
Aku mampu ke tebingan yang terjal
Jangan berani kau panggil aku bebal
Aku bukan bangsa yang gagal
Aku Melayu, anak bangsa yang cekal
Aku, aku :
Orang laut, orang Kallang, orang Seletar, orang Selat
Aku Jawa, Boyan, Bugis, Minangkabau, Banjar dan Batak.
orang Melayu Singapura
Anak jati pulau ini …
Tikamlah aku dengan kata-katamu
Cincanglah aku dengan pandangmu
Bencilah aku sebenci hatimu
Aku akan tetap teguh berdiri
Dari lampauku yang menjerut
Dari lautan yang hitam berkalut
Dengan semangat kental tiada lagi rapuh
Aku bukan insan yang merintih
Bukan manusia yang menagih
Dahagakan belas yang menampar pedih
Ibarat purnama & sang mentari
Seperti adanya pasang surut lautan Ilahi
Seperti harapan yang menggunung tinggi
Akan tetap aku teguh berdiri !!!
Jangan berani engkau mencerca aku dalam sejarah
Jangan sesekali memijak namaku hingga tenggelam dimamah tanah
Kerana iras semangat pahlawan, aku akan terus teguh berdiri
Seperti Adnan di Bukit Chandu
Dan satria-satria keagungan bumi Melayu
Wartakan pada semua,
Wartakan pada dunia,
Aku, aku Anak Melayu!!!
- hasil nukilan Elmi Zulkarnain…