HARESH SAYS: Help our talents hit the right chords

As published in Malay Mail today

By Haresh Deol

HER flaming red hair stood out among her peers on stage.

There stood Bihzhu (pic above) in her bubbly self. The fingers of the bassist and guitarist ran wild all over the frets but just as the Penangite sang, my left foot was already tapping to her jazzy tune.

Halfway through her performance during Moonshine at Publika last Wednesday, I asked myself why such songs do not enjoy airtime on radio.

Amir Jahari was next. The young Kuching lad went on to play several yet-to-be recorded songs, impressing those who attended the show. The others who performed that night included Bil Musa and Narmi.

I joined Amir after he performed and asked him how life had been in the scene.

“Bolehlah,” he said with a smile.

“I’m not making much, but it’s enough to put food on the table, pay the bills and do what I love doing … singing.”

Amir, who turned 23 on May 31, has come a long way since busking in the streets of Kuala Lumpur. The self-taught musician has impressed many through his blend of folk, country, jazz and simple pop music.

Unlike most of his peers who performed on stage, Amir (pic below) has had his tunes played on radio. Songs like Tanpamu and Penghibur Jalanan are among those that have secured spots in the local charts. He even made an appearance during Anugerah Juara Lagu 27.

But Amir, just like many other talents out there, is dying for support. They make good music but good is not enough, says his manager Joe Lee. Joe is no stranger to the media fraternity and was once a Malay Mail journalist.

“Just look around you,” he said pointing at several young musicians after the show.

“These are real talents. You may not hear or know of them but they have performed with some of the biggest names in the local music industry. If only more people know about them.

“I’ve told Amir he must make a name for himself by 25. The only way to move forward is to make a name outside Malaysia. We don’t need another jaguh kampung. We need more artistes like Yuna and Zee Avi, who have made a name for themselves by themselves.”

Yuna has performed at the Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo festivals, and appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Zee Avi, another Sarawakian talent, has headlined several shows including San Francisco’s Noise Pop, Austin’s South by Southwest and Mountain Jam in New York.

Joe has big plans for Amir which includes dominating the Indonesian market and setting sights on cutting albums in UK. After all, UK artistes have been making it big internationally as evident through the likes of Coldplay, Adele and Mumford and Sons, to name a few.

But this is not just about Amir and his grand vision of making it big. This is about an industry that still harps about Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, the KRU brothers and Amy Search. 

One wonders what happened to Mawi and the others who graduated from reality shows.
No disrespect to them but just like sports, we hardly see our local acts making it big on the international scene. There were the likes of Pop Shuvit, One Buck Short and Koffin Kanser, to name a few, who I thought had the capability to give foreign acts a run for their money.

Budding artistes are in a fix as it is near impossible to secure loans from financial institutions to catapult their career.

Some plead to the government to lend a hand. As such, MyCreative Ventures was formed in 2012. It received an allocation of RM200 million from the government.

Since its incorporation, MyCreative received some 300 applications and approved RM65 million for 42 companies.

But there has been criticism levelled against the entity. Some argued MyCreative should give out grants instead of loans. At the sidelines of this year’s Southeast Asia Venture Capital and Private Equity Conference, MyCreative chief executive officer Johan Ishak told reporters grants would not turn players into successful entrepreneurs.

He was quoted as saying: “We are interested to build a business with players who have a longer-term plan rather than on a project basis, tell us what they want to do and pay us back with returns.
“But currently many players do not have that mentality.”

So where do we go from here?

We must build a culture to ensure our talents will have the space and opportunity to produce their best. We have plenty of homegrown talents in the country who are ready to shine, even brighter than foreign artistes. These include painters, actors, sculptors and many more who are brave enough to break the conventional mould of society by expressing themselves and making beautiful art along the way.

Corporate sectors should open their eyes and see the full potential of our locals. With the right business model, they can promise return of investment.

Help our talents hit the right chords. They can make us proud.

HARESH is Malay Mail executive editor, He can be reached at haresh@mmail.com.my or on Twitter @HareshDeol

Pictures by Tang Chun Cheuh


  1. Bro Haresh,

    Agree with you that every support should be extended to these talented lot to realise their true musical potential.

    At least they can make us feel happy by listening to their music and songs.
    They can cheer us up too, unlike our pathetic footballers
    Millions of ringgit has been spent on football.In return
    they give us shame and heartache.They get beat by shameful number of goals (vs Vietnam, Thailand and Palestine)
    Take the SEA Games squad........OKS has been with the boys for more than 5 years......numerous friendlies were played, various globe trotting tours were made....opponents of various strength were arranged to play with......good food were provided....good hotels were given.....latest attires were given...frequent press and tv coverage were given......OKS gave us a load of false hopes with his style of talk.

    And shame on OKS...his boys had no shape or purpose.There was no direction in their game.Shameful that he could not nurture 11 technically skilful and thinking players in all these years as a coach.The SEA games gold that the won 5 years ago was a flash in the pan....nothing more nothing less.
    When Singapore failed to qualify for the semis, their coach Aide Iskander honourably tendered his resignation.But our static coach has conveniently chosen FAM to decide his fate.How pathetic.

    Dollah, OKS and Razif are people who give football supporters frequent heartaches and heart attacks.They cannot improve or produce further. That's their limit.They have reached their pinnacle in their coaching skills.Time FAM look at Korea or Japan to replace these local coaches.FAM need not look at the likes of Philippe Troussier or other high profile names because the material that we have (poor technique, poor skills, poor leadership, poor physical abilities, poor stamina and above all, poor footballing brains) cannot be made as overnight champions.
    Our World Cup and Asian Cup campaign is as good as gone up in smoke....all we can look forward is further humiliation.

    Yes it is better to nurture and finance our budding musicians and singers instead of prodding on with this bunch of over hyped, over fed pathetic footballers and " end of the road" type of coaches.

    I wish to hear that the entire FAM blokes resigning from their posts enmasse and handing over the reins to TMJ....at least he will try to reduce our frequent heartaches with his fresh and innovative approach to resuscitate our sick football.

    Peminat SukanJB


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