Sunday, April 22, 2007

Azmyl: Voice to inform and reform

By Pathma Subramaniam

Some people avow music as the pacifier for the soul. Others take it as amusement for the ears. For local musician and performer Azmyl Yunor, music is a voice; a voice to express, to educate, to inform and to reform.

The panorama of the underground music in Malaysia is decidedly dedicated to self-expression and focused on addressing many impeding issues in the society.

Azmyl is amongst the scores of subversive and radical underground musicians in our country trying to make means to tackle issues that are often veiled from the community.

The singer and songwriter had independently produced several solo albums including his latest CD entitled Tenets EP, which threads together with an uncanny mix of acoustic and folk music accompanied by incensed lyrics written out of experience/exasperation.

“The songs on Tenets are generally about loneliness and belonging because being away from home made a difference in my life. It captures emotions I felt, like being displaced in a foreign land. The songs were inspired and written by the events in my life while studying in Australia,” explained Azmyl.

His work divulges a wee bit on his passion for folk and experimental music and his outlook towards self-expression, which set him apart from local alternative rock scene.

In addition to singing solo, our home-grown artiste had made revelations in a host of experimental and punk-rock genre underground music groups like the Maharaja Commission and Ben’s Bitches.

However, Azmyl is completely against the idea of going mainstream. “My lyrics are driven by the ‘Everyday Joe’, this (going mainstream) means abiding by too many rules and limits on my creative talent. Anonymity works well for me, as I can relate better to the people and being a topical songwriter, it is important to blend in”.

Evidently, Azmyl is nothing like any conventional performer, as he feels so deeply for having a bearing over turbulent matters that often leaves our society unperturbed whereas it should.

“The press plays a big role in ensuring that people become suitors to their own freedom but the status of our press in Malaysia is quite dismissal, resulting to the mere fact that it doesn’t represent the people as it should and more often than not, scrutinised to censorship and oppression,” explained Azmyl.

“Musicians are here to remind people that there is diversity. Every individual should make it their duty and responsibility to demand the right to explore that diversity and choose what’s right for them.

“We serve as an entity that is of benefit to the people. We address questions that concern the community with our songs. As musicians, we exist in the public sphere which encompasses every issue and in my opinion, have the responsibility of advocating those issues.”

Note: Azmyl will take to the main stage in CM on Sunday, 6 May at 8pm.

ComeBack Kings to kick off WPFD

By Adeline Chong

What can a pest like a cockroach do? For most of us, it exists to torment us as we tuck into a hearty meal of nasi lemak. But the ComeBackKings, an energetic bunch of comedians, have actually turned our fears of vile, flying cockroaches into raucous laughter in their skit ‘Dance 101’, which credits the origins of dance to a single cockroach. There was such encouraging response for this skit that they have been constantly asked to perform at various other events, and thus the journey of the ComeBackKings began.

Currently, ComeBackKings comprises of six talented members, Phoon Chi Ho, Theatre Supervisor of The Actors Studio Bangsar; Nigesh Armon, Mechanical Engineering student; Matthew Ho, recent graduate with a BA (Hons) in Communication; Mathew George, BA Communication and Media Management student; Jonathan Nathan, Business Management Developer; Yee Mun Joon, pursuing MSc Electronic Engineering and Ong Yi Khai who is attached with ntv7.

Over time, their performances have varied to include stand-up comedy and spoofing popular songs amongst others and they perform almost anywhere and everywhere they get a chance to – bars, lounges and restaurants to corporate functions, college events, theatre and concert events.

“Where people call, we go. It’s like ‘Scooby doo’s mystery machine' except we call our ride the Whimsical Wagon.”

The might of their comedic talent has also been proven when they won a talent competition held by the Institute Advertising Communication Training (IACT), which incidentally, also kick-started their fame.

When asked to demystify the magic that draws infectious laughter from crowds, the ComeBackKings simply remarked: “No magic. As budding performers in Malaysia, we struggle to make ends meet so we can’t afford a bomoh yet.”

It is apparent that their jokes extend beyond their performances. So how does a comedy bunch feel about serious issues being addressed during the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD)
“The arts is always pushing and questioning the boundaries of freedom as well as lack of. It is the one medium that can express one’s thoughts on freedom creatively and conceptually… (Also,) reporting accurately and expressing oneself freely is the ticket to taking our development to another level.”

As performers, they realise that freedom of expression can be very tricky.

“Being somewhat a ‘public figure’ we have to constantly be aware of our material to please the general audience and dominant party(ies).

“Is it possible for local comedians to not touch on religions, race and government? If it’s not possible, then we should ask ourselves why our nation of 50 years is still so sensitive when it comes to such discussions."

With that in mind, they hope that WPFD generates awareness in Malaysians and encourages them to express their thoughts on freedom through proper channels, because they find that many still do not realise “they are being abused with distorted and erroneous substances in the media.”

It is obvious that ComeBackKings are not run-of-the-mill comedians. This vivacious group who look up to veterans such as Harith Iskandar, Rashid Salled, Douglas Lim and Patrick Teoh, are armed not only with wit, but a deep regard for Malaysia’s struggle for freedom for expression. We can most certainly count on such new blood to continue thriving the Malaysian arts scene and champion freedom of expression.

Note: the ComeBackKings will do the opening act on Saturday, 5 May 2007 at noon at the outdoor stage in Central Market. Be sure to catch them!

Press Conference

Media Invite

We are pleased to invite you to attend a press conference on the World Press Freedom Day celebrations. Details of the press conference are:

Date: 25 April (Wednesday)

Time: Noon
Venue: Bau-bau Cafe, Annexe@Central Market, Kuala Lumpur.

Joining us at the press conference are the ComeBack Kings, Zunar and Tan Sei Hon of TroubadoursKL.

For more inquiries, call Gayathry at 016-3123478.