Interview: Shh… Diam!

After gaining a spot on JUICE‘s There Goes The Neighbourhood: 11 Local Acts of Eargasm feature, many wrote to us wanting to know more about riot grrls, Shh… Diam! Formed almost two years ago, the band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Farah, Yon on guitar, bassist Diyz and Jellene on drums. We finally got the band in their most coherent state to share their thoughts on the local music scene, female-musician stereotypes and songs about… a horse?

Image Mohd Imran Mohd Nasir

It’s hard to find girls in bands in KL, let alone an all-girl band. How did Shh… Diam! first come together?
It’s actually pretty easy to find girls in bands. In fact, it is a lot easier to find girls in bands nowadays compared to maybe ten years ago. It’s a little more difficult to find an all-girl band, but there are a few out there disguised as auditors and accountants and lawyers, and we’re sure there are more coming up in the future. Pick up your axes and drumsticks girls, who says you need to leave the rocking to your boyfriends? Farah got an offer to play a gig in August 2009. She didn’t have a band but she lied and said she had one and then got her cousin Yon, schoolmate Diyz and colleague Kurin (first drummer) to join her in her ultimate lie. We did not even own instruments but through sheer determination and muka tebal, we made it through that first show by playing covers. Kurin left the band shortly after that, but then Jellene came out of nowhere and surprised us by not hating us at first sight.

That’s pretty punk! Did you plan to be an all-girl band? Or was it something that just happened?
Women outnumber men significantly in public universities, the civil service and Justin Bieber concerts. By the power of mathematics, we ended up as four chicks in a band.

What’s the usual reaction you get when people find out you’re an all girl band that rocks this hard?
People just scream and take off their clothes. Sometimes, we rock so hard, their clothes catch fire. Singed hair and missing eyebrows and burned clothes are a normal occurrence. The truth is, we never think of ourselves as girls in a band. When we get up there and play, we don’t think “Oh I’m a girl in a band”. In fact, we don’t think at all. We’ve had our fair share of sexist comments, but for the most part, everyone is amazingly supportive. It helps to be as thick-skinned as we are, because all we want to do is enjoy ourselves. We’re also not very bright.

Your snarky sense of humour says otherwise. You describe yourselves as “happy hardcore”, and a mix of metal, punk and jazz. What’re some of Shh… Diam!’s biggest influences in terms of sound?
We originally wanted to be a boyband and then realised we had to be boys. We had the choreographed moves. We even planned our eventual foray into the movies and television and the inevitable breakup. We wanted to be 4U2C. So that would be our biggest influence.

Uhh… yeah. Lyrically, what do you tend to write about?
We have songs about bathrooms. There are songs about lust. And a song about a horse. Basically that’s about it.

Are there any particular issues that Shh… Diam! tends to champion in your songs?
The right to be who you want to be and love who you want to love and eat what you want to eat as long as you cause no harm. Reduce, reuse and recycle.

Has the perception that you need males in a band ever presented a challenge to Shh… Diam!?
(Laughs) No. We’re pretty capable of handling things ourselves, but the challenge, or crappiness of it is that there’s always the ‘prove yourself’ part. Some people are just there waiting for you to mess up because you’re a chick and chicks are only supposed to play open chords or something dumb like that. But our friends are really cool. Sometimes when we go basking, our guy friends join us, just for fun. We don’t shut guys out.

Are there any female artistes in our local scene you look up to?
Melinda from Tempered Mental, Khadijah Ibrahim, Zaiton Sameon,  Hana Bakhra from Oddity, Yoyo, Ekin and Hana and Mel from the Pips, Tashya Basir, Ewin from Bottlecapt who is an awesome guitarist, Dila Raden, Celine Belli from Beatburns, Arabyrd and Intoxicated.

What’s the biggest achievement that you’ve accomplished as a band?
Staying together is by far our biggest achievement. We never thought we’d make it this far, and it has been a lot of hard work and sleepless nights. We love each other and we’d marry each other but seeing as Yon and Farah are related that’s not possible for them.

Depends which state you’re in… We hear you’ll be recording an album soon. Any big plans underway once the album is done?
A world tour.  Maybe Uzbekistan.

Borat’s bro will be waiting for you guys. Given all the talent in our local scene, who would you like to collaborate with the most?
The guys from the now-defunct rap group Nico.

Since this is the month of August, how will Shh… Diam! be celebrating Merdeka Day?
Balik kampung!

Check out Shh…Diam!’s singles ‘Kita’ and ‘Julie, Don’t Listen to Them’ at