So You Think You’re TAG enuff, eh?

I could still remember the scene at the now defunct Bar Amber in Hartamas, seven years ago. Downstairs, couple were having their dinner in a cramped yet very cosy setting. Upstairs, at the bar, there were drunks and yuppies talking under the influence having a good laugh. There were also a small group of friends made of genuine music enthusiasts. These group, was where I belong. We were there that night to celebrate our friends who were spinning music that we like. These friends were known as Twilight Action Girl, and this is their story, at its purest form.

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IT’S Friday night and you’re all dressed and geared up to party. As you step into your favourite joint, you notice something amiss.
Gone are your yuppie drinking friends, young girls in skimpy tight outfits as well as your favourite club hits blaring from the speakers.
Replacing these regular fixtures are ‘weirdos’ – scruffy looking young adults in T-shirts with messy if not weird hairstyles and wearing faded if not torn denims.
The music is too loud and noisy for your ‘civilised’ ears. ‘So, what’s going on here?, you ask yourself.

Twilight Action Girl art

Well, blame it on Twilight Actiongirl.
The DJ collective, with core members, DJ Ribut 10:59, DJ Bunga, DJ Chaseylain and DJ XU, did the unthinkable (well, at least from the Malaysian point of view) – bring fringe music to the dance floors.
Just in case you didn’t know, indie-disco night is the night where fringe music enthusiasts get to hang out, meet like-minded people, discover new music as well as party to the music they love.
One of the key figures in kick-starting the whole indie-disco nights thingy was Alan McGee, the former head-honcho of Creation Records, UK’s most influential record label in the late-80s/early 90s.
As an outlet for him to indulge his music tastes, he started Death Disco, a weekly club in west London back in 2002.
Living up to his reputation as one of the best artistes and repertoire (A&R) persons in modern rock ‘n’ roll, McGee would spin demos, EPs, basically any form of recorded material from new bands that he liked and give them their breaks.
Unlike Death Disco, Twilight Actiongirl started out as a reaction to dearth of places for fringe music enthusiasts to get their kicks.
“We’re sick and tired of bitching and complaining about not having a place that plays the kind of music that we and our friends want to listen to,” explained DJ Bunga.
“That’s why, in many ways, Twilight Actiongirl needed to be done – to make sure there was at least one night out for indie kids here. No nonsense, just straight to the business of rocking the house down,” DJ Ribut added.
On paper, it was a great idea but which club in their sanest mind would risk their business by dedicating a whole night to fringe music?
“We knew the odds because the idea of indie clubbing was non-existent here. Explaining to some club owners here about the music policy was painful enough. Not many of them knew or dared to try out Stone Roses, The Smiths, The Cure or New Order on the decks, let alone dedicate a night to this form of music.
“We, however, knew that there was a scattered indie fan-base in KL. What we really need to do is to get the words out and get these people together.”
And they weren’t wrong.

The Guilty Girls

Since making its debut at Bar Amber in Sri Hartamas in January 2003, Twilight Actiongirl is now already regarded as one of the leading indie-disco collectives and has played in Singapore and Bangkok.
September marks the collective’s first anniversary of its residencies at the Loft in Zouk.
“I must say that we’re lucky to have a large group of friends who were there to support us since the beginning till now,” DJ Bunga said.
“Yeah! Before this, nobody would stand behind punk rock and hold out any hope for rock ‘n’ roll’s energy on the decks,” DJ Ribut added.
“However, we always told ourselves to clear all the obstacles in our way no matter what.
“Today, no matter how small the achievements might be, we’re glad that we can proudly crank up the Ramones at the Loft, Zouk KL every Friday night. They might be gone, but Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee would have been happy with the kids in KL going nuts and moshing to the Ramones music.”
“We didn’t set out to start a revolution or anything lofty like that. If people like what we’re sharing with them, that already is a success for me,” DJ Bunga concluded.
“Our success also proved that you needn’t be a full-time DJ to deliver good music,” smirked DJ Ribut.
“If Twilight has managed to carve an indie clubbing niche, it shows that anybody with enough passion and some good music sense on the decks can shake the scene up. Let’s see some Northern soul and ska deejays coming through next. That will be great.”
“And by the way, Twilight Actiongirl is not a DJ collective; it sounds too arty-farty which is the last thing I want us to be. If you ask me, I’d prefer to address ourselves as ‘a motley crew of friends’,” DJ Bunga said.

* This was originally published in The Malay Mail, Aug 31, 2005

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