Freedom through music


We discover the as soon as undisclosed points of Malaysian underground music subculture

THE means folks hearken to music has undergone a radical transformation ever since mass media started to dominate the business. People may be seen gravitating towards pop songs, up to date music, and trendy, extra modern genres reminiscent of Okay-pop, which may be heard in virtually each type of social media, together with music streaming functions.

Despite all this, Malaysian underground music tradition is a little-known phenomenon that few folks have heard about. The well-established, specialised underground tradition in Malaysia is called the Malaysian impartial (indie) or city music scene, and noticed its heyday within the late Nineties.

It shouldn’t be troublesome to pin down what precisely is supposed by the time period “underground music” nowadays. Musicians within the underground demand a substantial amount of inventive freedom, and don’t depend on the mainstream media an excessive amount of.

In Malaysia, mainstream music refers to performers who’ve contracts with massive report labels and make commercially in style music, whereas underground media is subculture-focused.

Underground music consists of kinds and subgenres hardly ever heard in in style music, whether or not pop, techno, rock, metallic, or jazz.

The Malaysian underground scene is dominated by guitar-driven bands with a desire for rock music, however there are additionally different teams with a wide range of musical influences, reminiscent of hip-hop, electronica, and dance, which can be heard on the scene.

The majority of musicians on this native scene are self-organised, DIY-focused bands or collectives that emphasise making, sharing, and having fun with music collectively.

Technology has made a giant distinction over the previous 20 years. Specialised web sites and different on-line platforms abound in as we speak’s digital world. This is the place underground artistes can now market their albums, gigs, venues, and companies by distributing them on-line, totally on social media.


It was again within the mid-Nineteen Eighties that Anglo-American music and magazines like NME made their approach to Malaysia and birthed a brand new era of heavy metallic and punk bands throughout the nation.

The underground subcultures unfold optimistic, equal social concepts that gave younger Malaysians an alternate.

By the late Nineties, Kuala Lumpur’s now-historic Central Market had develop into a hub for quite a few younger, multi-ethnic Malaysian artists and musicians who have been fed up with the more and more conservative attitudes of the agricultural Malay countryside.

These first bands loved the tail finish of musical freedom in Malaysia, the place the long-haired, ripped jeans-wearing “mat rockers” (Malay arduous rock followers and musicians) like Search, and Wings (a Malaysian arduous rock band) achieved nice reputation in Malaysia within the Nineteen Eighties.

They bought out quite a few Kuala Lumpur stadiums with their mix of melodious European arduous rock and Malay language songs, drawing followers from every kind of backgrounds.

However, between 2001 and 2006, the tide modified. Fans of the style have been being known as “Satanic black metal enthusiasts” by the more and more vocal non secular authorities, musicians have been accused of “free adultery and desecration of the Quran,” and their music was placed on mute.

To put it one other means, the Malay media exaggerated what went on at music occasions, confiscating albums and cancelling live shows because of the hysteria.

As time handed, the style started making its means again into the scene, albeit much more lowkey than earlier than. That’s when notable rock teams reminiscent of Hujan and Meet Uncle Hussain emerged on the scene, as soon as once more intriducing the style to a contemporary viewers of followers.

Audience Acceptance

Even with the emergence of recent applied sciences and the acceptability of supplies in the way in which that music is carried out, underground music and gigs proceed to thrive. And what makes it particular is that it was accepted by most individuals and altered for the higher.

Aniq Ammar Ekhwan, the guitarist for Hayley’s Komet band, famous that underground performers goal to convey their ideas and feelings, and that the identical goes for the viewers.

“In the past, people would only attend shows of their favourite genre [of music], but now the shows themselves consist of different genres and it all blends together,” he mentioned.

“Here is where the concept of artistic equality is balanced and neutralised by the concept of harmony.”

Aniq believes that such a wholesome crowd assist for underground occasions and tradition will proceed and that the long run is shiny if this freedom of expression continues to flourish.

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