THERE is magic around us. Just open your eyes.
I am currently experiencing this magic on three fronts. The first magic happened last Friday. I remember the moment. I was just staring, open-mouthed, my senses heightened with what I was hearing and looking at.
I was at Space U8 for the live show of TV9’s Versus, a show that pits five of the country’s top bands in a weekly challenge to see who will outdo each other in a musical battle to win the final grand prize of RM200,000.
On paper, it sounds interesting. During the preparations, as the production teams presented what the show would look like, the rundown and all the production details, it still sounded interesting. But nothing prepared me for how our bands would rise to the challenge and stretch their creative limits.
There I was, in front of the Versus stage, listening to this amazing new version of the Alleycats’ classic Andainya Aku Pergi Dulu. The rearrangement was done by GoGerila!, a band featuring huge star Aizat Amdan on keyboards and co-lead on vocals. It wasn’t Aizat who drew me to the music. It was how they recreated the song that blew me away.
The melody was kept intact but was floated above some arrestingly beautiful new chord progressions. This reharmonisation of the chords was done with a touch of genius. They were not too complex to confuse the public, they provided the right lift to the melody and they were sophisticated yet still able to show the average listener, “Look, I can take this song here!”
Achieving that balance between musical innovation and getting the masses to understand the innovation itself is indeed a work of art.
For a band as young as GoGerila! to do that so effortlessly speaks volumes of the level of creativity that can be found in our own backyard.
It wasn’t just GoGerila! that showed what they could do. Hujan, Sofazr, Sixth Sense and Black & Parallax (a project band combining Black and Meet Uncle Hussein) also explored their musical abilities to the limits, each band astounding me with their musical abilities.
What these guys are doing, in front of millions of Malaysians every Friday night, is a milestone in the journey of Malaysian music.
The second magic happened last Wednesday.
I was at KL Live, watching the live shows of Showdown, the country’s hit dance-crew reality show on 8TV.
Even though it’s now in the third season, I am still stunned into silence at the quality of the dance crews here. And this season, I have begun to also appreciate the quality of TV production on display for Showdown. Watch it, you’ll see.
The way the story is told, the way the production chooses its camera shots, its lighting and its musical soundtrack to accent the moments, is simply world-class.
The third magic happened last Sunday. It was the last episode of Projek Pop, the indie-produced drama series on 8TV about what happens behind the scenes of a fictitious concert.
Projek Pop was produced by Phuture Phlow Productions, made up of guys I knew from way back when they were in Phlowtron, the hip-hop group.
The show reinvents the way scripts are written, effortlessly moving from language to language in a way that is at once natural and at home. The way the guys mixed reality and fiction gives hope to budding Tarantinos at home.
I am super proud of these three shows as they push the envelopes of creativity, bringing our works of art to a level that I can point to and say, “Look, Malaysian bro.”
Too many times I have sat in teh-tarik sessions with critics in the scene, who obviously base their views on some unfounded preconceptions of Malaysian creativity, who only know how to put down Malaysian works of art.
Some of the world’s best work is happening right under your eyes, you coffee-drinking, perpetual-blogging, always-complaining, stuck-in-your-own-little-ivory-towers-living person, but you choose not to open your eyes as it would definitely dampen your arguments that Malaysian creativity is stale.
Open your eyes. Malaysian creativity is very much alive.
The thing is, shows like Versus, Showdown and Projek Pop not only provide a much-needed platform for creativity, but also by virtue of being on free-to-air TV stations, means these works can be felt by everyone.
Somewhere, in some remote parts of the country, some young kids are listening to the bands on Versus and each picking up a guitar going, “anything is possible”.
Somewhere, in some remote parts of the country, some young kids are looking at the ground-breaking moves in Showdown and going, “anything is possible”.
Somewhere, in some remote parts of the country, some young kids are watching Projek Pop and are inspired to make a movie and going, “anything is possible”.
The magic is around us. Just open your eyes.
The writer should be working but he is currently too busy watching these three shows again on tonton.com.my. Versus is aired on TV9 on Fridays at 9.30pm, Showdown on 8TV on Wednesdays at 9.30pm. All shows can also beviewed on tonton.com.my