Converse Campfire Chat: Azmyl Yunor + Ili FM + Fairuz Sulaiman

Images Ili FM + David Hagerman + Fairuz Sulaiman

JUICE converses with 3 Converse Jamboree Ambassadors from across the creative spectrum – folk-rocker Azmyl Yunor, music journo-cum-photog Ili FM, and visual artist Fairuz Sulaiman. One as articulate as an erudite troubadour can get, the other more taciturn with glimpses of dry wit, and the last just a generally affable person to talk to, they share with us their thoughts on education, supernatural campfire tales, and sneakers nostalgia…

Introduce yourself to our readers as to who you are and what you do.
Azmyl Hello. I’m Azmyl Yunor. Musician, educator, folker… jack of some trades.
Fairuz Hello. I’m Fairuz from Klang. I make videos and live visuals.
Ili Hi, I’m Ili. Some of you might know me as Ili Farhana, ili fm or Aditi Chandra. I wrote for magazines like EH!, JUNK and JUICE. I also photograph, mostly music gigs and musicians. Apart from that, I also work with Hujan and Khottal on touring and management bits. On good days, I teach at a local college. Generally a music lover and scene observer.

Oh yeah, that’s right, you were with JUICE. Miss us, Ili?
Ili Possibly. Do you miss me?

We certainly do! Anyway, how does what you guys do translate to the workshops/talks/demos you will be handling at Jamboree?
Azmyl Empowering youth with adequate amount of knowledge in order to de-mystify certain creative vocations.
Fairuz I’ll be showing ways to make live visual for music.
Ili Well, for one, I can talk about a lot of things that’s music-related. But there will be plenty of experts on the music at the jamboree too so I’ll focus mostly on photography. I hope it’ll be more like a lepak mamak session rather than a formal class with kids asking questions. Just so you know, I also happen to like film and mobile photography, so the things that can be discussed can go beyond Photoshop and DSLRs.

We heard the kids at last year’s camp were surprisingly very well-behaved. What are you expecting from them this year?
Azmyl I hope they misbehave more, like kids are wont to be.
Fairuz More well-behaved kids?
Ili I hope they’re a fun bunch of humans who like to share stories, because it’ll be awkward, tiring and slightly boring if I do all the talking.

Students here don’t participate well. Any kind of interaction would usually be met with a collective silence. Why do you think our kids are that way and how are you going to avoid such from happening at the camp?
Azmyl I think some adults are equally guilty of being collectively silent too, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as they say. The best antidote? Ask questions or tell a story.
Fairuz I don’t think the kids are the problem. I think it’s the parents, the teachers, the politicians; basically just about everyone else.
Ili Kids don’t ask questions because teachers and parents don’t encourage them too. For my session, if they don’t ask questions, I’ll make them do jumping jacks every 2 minutes. Or ketuk-ketampi ala Labu-Labi. Either that or I bombard them with questions. Should be fun.

What was high school like for you? How do you hope to motivate and inspire the kids at the camp?
Azmyl I hated high school, so I empathise with most youths since I’m sure most youths think high school sucks. Knowing what sucked is important in order to know what works and what doesn’t.
Fairuz High school sucked a bit. Inspiration for me comes when I see something honest and interesting so I’ll try my best to do that with my visual making.
Ili High school was alright. I liked Take That and Nirvana at the same time. Call me ‘balanced.’ I liked photographing friends during special events like Hari Guru and Hari Kanak-Kanak then. I hope kids at the camp enjoy photography as much as I do. I hope they see it as a way of preserving memories and not just another so-called ‘easy’ and ‘hip’ way to get extra cash.

Jamboree is an alternative motivational camp, what not with The Converse ambassadors participating this year being artistically-inclined peeps ranging from musicians, music journos, to artists. Do you think this is the problem with the youths of Malaysia – that they are not provided with enough options during school?
Fairuz One of many, yes.
Azmyl I don’t think the problem is with the youths – the adults are the problem, especially those in both economic and political power, since they tend to limit things allowed based on some really moronic or illogical ‘reasons’. Our adults can’t even agree on teaching maths and sciences in English or not, it’s not the youths making the decision. It’s a huge cultural constipation we have going on here. Now that most of us (the ambassadors and artists) are of adult age, and having experienced the same kind of lack of options when we were younger, we’d at least like to make sure that there are options for youths, something we didn’t have or longed for.
Ili They are not provided with enough options for anything. Full stop. Youths should totally come for the Jamboree for the sheer reason that it’s not school, but you’ll walk out with friends and new knowledge. It will be enjoyable. You’ll get to meet and talk people who own record labels, busked around, organized shows, actors, musicians, artisans, in short… people who you don’t usually get to talk to in schools or even outside under normal circumstances.

This is for Azmyl. You’re not just a folk rocker, you’ve lectured at several colleges. As someone who’s involved in both artistic and academic pursuits, what do you feel is missing from the lives of today’s youths?
Azmyl Not just that, I’m also a noise-rocker…I love noise! I think what’s missing nowadays is the lack of something to miss…we’re all too ‘connected’ via technology nowadays to miss anything. I’m not against technology, it’s just that I think we need to also ‘disconnect’ to listen to your own thoughts for yourself, not just to post it up on Facebook or tweet it (or both) and wanting someone to comment or ‘like’ it. We need to get lost more often, physically. Getting ‘lost’ virtually doesn’t count, we’re physical beings.

Being a socio-politically conscious singer, are you going to subliminally slip some subversive messages at Jamboree?
Azmyl Wow, I never saw myself as one, but I take that as a compliment. I’m just a regular dude speaking/singing what’s on his mind. However, is being socio-politically conscious necessarily ‘subversive’? I don’t think so. Are you suggesting the others are apathetic or indifferent? If the kids express what’s on their mind with pure honesty, then they have achieved consciousness, you don’t have be subliminal nor subversive to ignite sparks of consciousness. Just the ability to think for yourself.

Be honest, have you ever went on a camping trip before?
Azmyl Yessir! I was a boy scout when I was in school. Plus, my parents are scientists who used to do research trips in the jungle and I had to follow them sometimes. I also used to sleep on park benches, on pavements, on apartment floors, without supplies or clean change of clothes in my wilder years, so I think I’ve gone a bit of ‘urban camping’.
Fairuz Just last year at the first Converse Jamboree.
Ili Yep! Motivational camping trips (did not work), and nature appreciation camping trips (quite high on fun factor actually).

What would your ideal campfire outing be like?
Azmyl One without fire really, just camp, with the vast night sky illuminating the place.
Fairuz I don’t think I can say it without getting into trouble.
Ili With girlfriends, a lot of food, by the beach.

Share with us a campfire memory of yours.
Azmyl When I was about 12 years old, we were on this trip in the middle of nowhere (deep in Johor, somewhere near Rompin I think) and there were these European scientists doing some kind of research there and hadn’t gone out for about 6 months. So one night, we were sitting by the campfire, and the fire was calming down, and I looked up in the sky, and I kid you not, I saw about 5 or 6 stars moving around erratically. They were UFOs, I’m sure of it. I believe in UFOs.
Fairuz I’ll tell you after this upcoming jamboree. It’s going to be pretty awesome, worthy of a campfire tale!
Ili Not quite a tale, but once I went camping by the beach, another participant said “look at the stars, that’s your past and future. Your great-grandfather looked at the same stars and later your great-grandkids will do the same. Don’t you wish you can talk to the stars and listen to their stories?” Kind off a ‘whoa’ moment for me.

Keanu would be proud, Ili. Because we feel like a Malay tabloid today, we’re gonna ask a stupid question. Expecting the quintessential possession and other supernatural events happening at the camp?
Azmyl Number one rule of camping or venturing in the jungle: never mention about nor wish for such things, even if they’re staring right at you in your face. I live near a spiritual-religious ‘clinic’ in Bangi, so at least I know where to go if the need arises.
Fairuz I get the feeling the trees will dance.
Ili No-lah. Rempits in KL are scarier than ghosts. If the kids want vampires, I’ll point them to the mozzies. Same function, just not sparkly.

Say you got lost in the jungle, what’s your survival rate?
Azmyl I’ll be humble and say 50-50.
Fairuz Depending on the jungle, I’d probably make it out okay.
Ili Pretty high. As long as I don’t die of fright first.

Anyone you know among the listed ambassadors? Are you looking forward to their demo at the camp?
Azmyl I always enjoy Fairuz Sulaiman’s works, damn syok!
Fairuz Yeah, looking forward to Azmyl’s and Ili’s demos, but not sure if I can catch it since I’ll be demo-ing myself….
Ili Quite a few, actually. Even the ones I don’t know, I’d love to see everybody’s talk or demo. I hope our timing doesn’t clash.

Are you already a fan of Converse sneaks? Share with us your most memorable Converse nostalgia.
Azmyl I have one pair of Converse sneakers I got in exchange for performing with Ben’s Bitches at last year’s Street Clash. It was my first ever pair, to be honest. I’m really impressed at how durable they are. It’s not easy being on Azmyl Yunor’s feet on a regular basis. I was wearing the pair when I met Rhoma Irama (legendary Indonesian dangdut singer) in Jakarta at a TV show earlier this year and later sang ‘Anak Dara’ to a really sporting Indonesian audience. That is already nostalgic to me by now.
Fairuz Couldn’t afford Converse when I was in high school, just Bata badminton shoes.
Ili Long time fan, I am. My sparkly blue pair is a concert staple-shoes, the black leather hi-cut Chucks sprinted across Père Lachaise, Paris with me one fine Spring day. My brown leather Chucks is the best pair of shoes to wear during winter in the UK.

On a final note, hypothetical question; you are lost in the jungles (again), what do you wish you had with you?
Azmyl A lighter.
Fairuz A tent, some cooking utensils, solar gen set, sketch book and pen.
Ili My phone. Battery full bar. Because it’s a lot of things in one. I can make phone calls and listen to music while waiting for the search and rescue team to come and it can work as a torchlight too. Yay! And Hermione’s magic bag, because in it I can fit a tent, a working kitchen and some books. Oh, and mosquito repellent.

Get back to us on who survives when you guys are back from the jamboree, we’re putting our money on Azmyl. What not with him being a pro-busker and all.

Converse Jamboree is happening on Saturday 17 December @ Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve. For more info, checkout www.facebook.com/conversemy. Azmyl Yunor can be found at yat.ch/yunor. Check out Ili FM’s photos at flickr.com/photos/ili. Watch Fairuz Sulaiman’s video works at vimeo.com/fairuzs.