Pop Malaysiana: Soul Searching of the Music Kind

Every August arrives with the question of identity among locals – a seemingly never ending cycle of what it means to be Malaysian. And often time this always carries an accusatory baggage, especially when it comes to local music. Just ask any indie musicians out there about the kind of criticism they’d usually face from the mainstream – the Malay mainstream in particular – and there’d be a high probability that they’ll tell you they were accused of not being ‘Malaysian’ enough.

This creates a perpetual identity crisis – bands either forcefully incorporate traditional elements into their music or start singing in their native tongue. Some more successfully than others, some should have sung in their own language in the first place, but most importantly, it gets us questioning; can’t local music stand on its own without having to sound ‘Malaysian’?

A vague concept at best, JUICE decides to pick 5 artists to enlighten us on the idea. Some are actively pursuing that Malaysian sound, others make music without that thought at the back of their heads.