Many great pieces of music were made with the humble Kapok guitar, spanning across genres like blues, jazz, rock and roll ‘n’ folk; a person could let their soul out with the strum of a melody.
Inspired by Woody Guthrie’s motto about the guitar, “This machine kills fascists”, singer-songwriter Azmyl Yunor’s new song and music video for ‘Kapuk’, from his upcoming album John Bangi Blues, pays homage to the humble instrument that gives a voice to the voiceless.
You’d expect an acoustic guitar-driven song from the folk rocker since the intro starts with one, but it soon kicks into gear with an electric guitar while Azmyl sings his poetry, accompanied by the cute animation that was illustrated by visual artist and musician Shika, which tells the rest of the story visually.
The music video also celebrates female musicians and marginalised groups alike, attached with a message of empowerment and freedom of expression.
Shika, vocalist and guitarist for local garage punk band Tingtongketz illustrated and conceptualised the characters that were then animated by A-Jun, whom Azmyl has collaborated before on his MV for ‘Kurangkan Maju’ two years ago.
This is part of Azmyl’s ongoing initiative in creative collaborations with film students, filmmakers and artists.
Outside of creating fine songs for the people, Azmyl teaches at the Digital Film Production and Performing Arts programmes at Sunway University. With his video projects, he aims to explore the medium with his students outside of typical university curriculum and making them think about music videos differently.
“It’s also about extending the ‘shelf life ‘ of songs which in essence are timeless but culturally bound by the date of its release to the public. Music videos, I feel, are the ideal medium since there’s always the storytelling and visuality a song can latch onto,” he says.
But what does ‘Kapok’ mean to Azmyl personally?
In the stoic educator-musician’s own words, “This one is a reminder to always stick it up to the Man and artless self-righteous demagogues.”
The CD format for John Bangi Blues will be released on Record Store Day 26 September (pre-order it & Azmyl will deliver in person!) while the digital version was released on 16 September, Malaysia Day on his Bandcamp page.
To commemorate the launch, he performed the new album in its entirety live at Merdekarya on 16 September to raise funds for the venue, that was affected heavily during the Recovery Movement Control Order.