Though he’s been blasting his stuff on Soundcloud for about 3 years now, not many has really heard of Orang. Now with a sudden increase in activity on his page, we figured it’s about time you guys paid closer attention.
Singer-songwriters are often stigmatised as the cocky faux jazz playing douche (read Jason Mraz). But we have to admit that they’re not all that way. Orang is a fine example of a solo-man challenging that stereotype.
Orang, real name Azfar Abu Bakar, has quite a unique sense of songwriting that mashes the singer-songwriter archetype with a brooding shoegazer style. Something of a Bradford Cox type if you will. A style, which he admits is a result of not being good at playing the guitar and also for not having much talent in singing, which resorted to writing songs that are easier for him to play.
Like most musicians that are worth a damn, he’s got a long list of influences. With his earlier influences being The Strokes, and their contemporaries like The Walkmen, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Interpol. He then moved on to Animal Collective which he obsessed over and consider to be his “gateway drug” that diversified his taste to include bands like Panda Bear, Beach House, Deerhunter, and even Lady Gaga.
We asked how he would categorise his music, but he was at a loss for words himself, “I’m really bad at describing my sound. I’m a bit genre illiterate, sorry. Psychedelic-freak-folk-pop-berangan-tapi-tak-jadi, maybe? Help me out here.”
JUICE is no help though. Just read our April Feature in the mag and you’ll see that we’re struggling to catch up with the amount of genres popping up in this day and age.
Azfar used to perform open mics under the moniker Slacker back when he first started. Apparently he felt that his music was not good enough. “I was surprised by how unhappy I was with those performances. Maybe I have to see the doctor about confidence issues or some sh!t,” he says. Following those performances as Slacker, he realised that he hadn’t figured out how to properly present his music live as opposed to recordings. To move forward it was important to him to get his sh!t together, so he decided to work on his act. As part of his fresh start, the name Orang came about.
The name, according to Azfar, is to symbolise neutrality. To let the music speak for itself. “I thought it sounded cool. It’s neutral. Colourless. There’s no aesthetics to it. Doesn’t really give an idea of what the music is going to sound like behind the name. I liked that.”
Though he likes to sell himself short, his talent in songwriting shows in his recordings. It’s long been understood (well at least since the ‘80s) that it’s not so much about the technical skill that you bring to the table, but how you choose to express yourself through these limitations that makes you a great musician.
You could be listening to a cute percussive track like ‘Like the Back of a Spoon’ and jump to a Deerhunter-esque song like ‘Sorang’, without being thrown off sonically. His body of works is an exploration of so many different musical stylings that somehow maintains congruity in tone that it would be an insult to label him as any one genre. He’s just Orang.
You can listen to the works of Orang over at his SoundCloud page www.soundcloud.com/orangorang.