KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 — Award-winning musician Datuk M. Nasir via his record label, Luncai Emas Sdn Bhd, will be taking the first step in rejuvenating “joget” music through Joget Made in Malaysia — a 10-track compilation album which is a collaborative effort by 12 local artists and 20 composers.
Fusing the traditional “joget” music with a more modern approach, the effort includes participation from arts and music lecturers as well as students from four universities which are Sultan Idris Educational University (UPSI), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) and the National Arts, Culture and Heritage Academy (Aswara).
Artists involved include both mainstream and independent musicians such as rappers Kmy Kmo and Luca Sickta, singers Amir Jahari and Jaclyn Chia as well as indie bands, Iqbal M and Ramayan.
The RM400,000 album is produced by Luncai Emas with the support of the Communications and Multimedia Ministry (K-KOMM) via its Digital Music Fund.
According to Nasir, it has been close to 20 years now since the last “joget” music was released commercially and he wanted to expose these lost sounds in a modern format to appeal to the younger generation.
“Most of them (the artists involved) come from universities and they’re not from the commercial world. We want to see their standards and capabilities and most of them have it.
“This could also be seen as an experiment. Because I could call in established composers and musicians, however the cost would go over the roof, so we decided to give way to those who have the heart for diversity and traditional music.
“We give them the opportunity to express, to interpret their own ideas in modern music using the rhythm of ‘joget’,” Nasir said.
(From left) Luncai Emas's production director, Keon Omar, Datuk M. Nasir along with UMK's lecturer, Professor Madya Raja Iskandar Raja Halim from the creative technology and heritage faculty. — Picture by Hari Anggara
The Mentera Semerah Padi singer also revealed that many of the younger generation haven’t been exposed to the genre while some might’ve known it but haven’t heard “joget” music in a while.
According to album executive producer in Luncai Emas’s production director, Keon Omar, it was important for them to present these kinds of opportunities to art and music students as he sees them as their successors.
He said that the album’s process took around five months to complete and all the songs will have to go through quality checking by Nasir and himself for approval.
“Even though this is an album, we will release it single by single. We want to focus on promoting each single.
“Maybe in one month, we could release around two singles with the help of K-KOMM in terms of local radio airplays.
“We would treat each song as a commercial single because there are some rare songs inside,” Keon said.
He added that they had also consulted with heritage experts before proceeding with the album creation.
In July, they invited the artistes and composers for an in-depth “joget” briefing by UMK’s Professor Madya Raja Iskandar Raja Halid from the creative technology and heritage faculty to come in as their arts and heritage advisor.
“We made a workshop where we called all the composers and artists involved for a briefing on the history of ‘joget’.
“Where it came from, its rhythm, so they can get a general view of the basics of “joget”.
“Then we let them create art with it. An interpretation by the newer generation while staying true to the ‘joget elements’ ,” Raja Iskandar said.
Inside the Joget Made in Malaysia Album
Malaysian rappers Kmy Kmo (left) and Luca Sickta. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Rappers Kmy Kmo and Luca Sickta who previously have worked with Nasir on their single Zuhud, were grateful to get involved with the Joget Made in Malaysia album via Tepuk Bantal and Damai.
According to Kmy, both of them have been fans of Nasir’s music since they were little, and they have made Nasir as their source of inspiration for their tracks.
“I grew up listening to M. Nasir’s songs and what I love about him is his arts in music. The way he carries it is unique.
“Not just from his character but from his music as well. So, from there I came up with the idea to include some middle eastern rhythm in it,” Kmy said.
He added that it is part of their mission and vision in the music industry to be experimental and they have a knack for recycling old traditional music and making it fresher for the younger generations.
Meanwhile, talking about the possibility of a backlash from the public regarding the album, Luca said that both of them are willing to accept any with open arms.
“For me, I would rather get criticised for my work on our own traditional music that we’re trying to improvise rather than trying to copy outside music that people are currently praising.
“Our intentions are clear; we grew up with this music which has impacted our childhood, and we want the younger generation to learn about the strength in our own music,” Luca said.
Malaysian indie band, Iqbal M is thrilled to be part of ‘Joget Made in Malaysia’ album. — Picture courtesy of Iqbal M
For local indie band Iqbal M, they are thrilled to be part of the project as this is their first time getting featured in a compilation album.
The band contributed Tidurlah Sayang, Tidur, which was composed and written by the band themselves.
According to frontman, Muhammad Iqbal Othman, even though they didn’t have the chance to work side to side with the other artistes involved, they are happy to be able to share their listeners with them.
He added that, amongst the challenges they faced in producing the track was that they had to do it via online as Iqbal was in Melaka at that time while his bandmates were in Kuala Lumpur.
“We were given a short time to finish the song and coincidentally, in that short time, I was in Melaka, and everyone else was in KL.
“So, we did everything online, everyone poured out their ideas for their roles and from there we polished everything, and we threw all of the ideas into our recording session,” Iqbal told Malay Mail.
“I think ‘Moden Rokes’ (Iqbal M’s fanbase) will be able to accept it because previously we did a song that has elements of ‘joget’ in our track Antara Dua Darjat.
“At the same time, we’re also trying to attract new listeners and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve agreed to be part of the compilation album.
“If previously people haven’t heard of Iqbal M, maybe after the release, they would. So, this track is a bit of both-a present to Moden Rokes as well as an introduction to new listeners,” Iqbal said.