Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before: Part I

I did so many crazy things in the last 34 years of my life, but nothing beats the craziness of this project.

A project that was initially dubbed as Project Ninja, which turned out to become the most exciting, floodgate opening, industry-defying, P Ramlee… Dimanakan Ku Cari Ganti: Satu Indiepretasi.

How did it came about, honestly, it was a spur of the moment.

“Guys, Astro wants us to support this P Ramlee campaign that they are doing and I need to update them on what each of your station, Era, Gegar and XFM are planning to do?” asked Rostam Said, or Pak Tam Sinar FM Content Manager

Needing an answer, with an ego as big as the yet-to-build 100 story erection, my response was an arrogant – XFM will support by having 10 local acts doing their interpolation of P Ramlee’s music.

Pow!

I did my part, now let’s all move on with our lives.

Okay, the previous line was a lie. Writers always do that and I call it, ohimsofullofshitism.

The truth was, as my mouth were spitting out the words, I was already
plotting/scheming/mapping a journey into the unknown.

At the back of head, I know that, if this were to ever materialised, it’s going to be something that is super awesome. The question then was – Can I?

Let’s find out.

The first person I got in touch with was AG, of the band Hujan, also the owner of Kamar Seni Studios. Why him? Because we did spoke a few months ago about working on something at his studio. What I had in mind then was to do another round of X-Gig Xtended series. Either that or a Peel Session-like show. However, nothing transpired from that, especially when I’m surviving on a shoestring budget.

With the Astro’s P Ramlee campaign up my sleeve, it looks like this is gonna be the perfect opportunity for me to work with AG and the Kamar Seni team.

With roadblocks and cockblocks being synonym with my existence, I was fully aware that this could also end up like most of my world-dominating and life-changing ideas – at the back of Adly’s brain. Hey, forgive me for the skepticism – I had no money to actually
fund this crazy idea.

The next paragraph is a perfect example how disjointed my thoughts are.

Just in case you wonder why Kamar Seni?

I honestly have no idea. It was probably because I like what I heard on Hujan’s third studio album (sorry AG, I know the fact that I’ve listened to the entire album few months before it was released, should stay as a secret, but, I was held at gunpoint while I’m writing this).

Hence my courtship with AG.

My first call to him was to enquire how much it would cost me to record a full song.

The second call made was to enquire how much it would cost to re-record P Ramlee’s song and how long would it take for a band to do so?

“It would take roughly around 10 hours per band and it would cost you RM*** per hour,” AG said.

Hmm… Not too bad. If I invite 10 bands it would cost me around RM***K.

Okay, let’s try my luck via Pak Tam and make this crazy idea a reality – Hi Astro, can I have RM***K from you, please.

“I think it shouldn’t be a problem. Gauging from my last meeting with Astro, they are very excited about the idea. Hmm… Maybe I should rope you in for future W.I.P. (work in progress) meetings,” Pak Tam said.

Gulp.

I don’t normally do meetings. Most things were resolved not via meetings, but via dictatorship anyway.

“Don’t worry. Saniboey is one of the project champions. You know him right?”

Who doesn’t?

I’ve always see Saniboey as a kindred spirit – opinionated music nerd who speaks first regret later.  So, getting along shouldn’t be a problem. As a matter of fact, the thought of me teaming up with him was actually mouth-watering.

Anyway, before I continue, my apologies for not being able to provide you with a valid timeline of this project as everything seem to be a blur to me now. I do however clearly remember that it was initiated somewhere during Ramadhan.

Back to Project Ninja, now that I’m (wishfully) thinking that I will have money to fund this project, the next big step for me to make was to shoot the idea to bands, via this BBM (Blackberry Messenger) group, KRS One, an acronym for Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone (stole it from the stage name of Lawrence Kris Parker, aka The Teacha, one of the legendary figures in the international hip hop scene) that
I started a few weeks earlier.

The members of KRS One were made of individuals from various bands, solo singer, and MCs. Prior to this project, the group biggest achievement was to organize a buka puasa do.

“XFM is looking for bands to be part of this P Ramlee tribute project. At this point the only thing we can offer you is 10-hour studio time to record, mix and master. Interested?”

And the floodgates were wide open.

The first few who have agreed to be part of this project were Altimet, Subculture, Hujan, One Buck Short, Bunkface, monoloQue, SevenCollar T-shirt, They Will Kill Us All, Couple, Awanband and Yuna.

Cool.

From 10 acts I know have 11, better than what I expected.

It’s cooler when the excitements showed by the acts were beyond words. Subject as “What’s in it for them,” as well as the industry-standard sermon – “How much?”

Now that I have 11 acts all set to go, the next thing for me to do is…

PING!

“Err… The songs are to be recorded and…?” asked one of the guys in the BBM group.

My bad, to answer your question, these songs are gonna be played on XFM and maybe the rest of the Malay radio stations under AMP’s wings.

Moving forward (I sincerely dismiss this phrase as it epitomise fear) the first task given the acts was to pick their P Ramlee’s tune of choice. Among the earliest to revert to me on this was Couple, who said they are gonna interpolate “Menche Che Bujang Lapok.” then came act A, act B and so forth.

Gulp!

At this point, I know I can’t do this alone. Enter Ili Farhana.

“Aunty, I think I need your assistance for this project. Would you be interested?” that was my text to her.

I’ve known Ili for nearly 10 years. She was a mass communication undergrad ITM when I first met her. She was so full of life, hosted a college radio show, and was a big fan on Indo-rock (sorry, aunty). To an extend, she’s like a female version of me, minus the emo (okay, shoot me now, aunty).

Anyway, to my delight, Ili said yes. Immediately, things were starting to move forward. Ili took the initiative to push the bands – in coming back with their choice of P Ramlee’s song; organizing the studio time with AG and a whole lot more. Again, this project would never have taken off if not for Ili, dedication and passion.

As the acts, Ili, AG and I were trying to get things together, the number of participants was increasing by the day.

Joining the initial 11 was Bittersweet, The Times, Grey Sky Morning, Pesawat, Pop Shuvit and Meet Uncle Hussain.

Among the acts in my wish list was Azlan & The Typewriter. However, due to his tight schedule, he was unable to commit.

 

Damn!

As I was about to sit at one quiet corner and wallow,   came a text message from AG.

“Adly, Lan cakap okay. Dia tak berani commit awal-awal hari tu sebab dia takut tak de time nak rehearse. Jangan risau, aku akan arrangekan muzik untuk dia. He will be doing “Jeritan Batinku.”

I was speechless. Never thought AG would go out of the way to ensure the best of the crop would be a part of this project.

Speaking of AG, I’ve always remember him as the quiet one in Hujan, after drummer, Am. Apparently, he’s the Pak Lawak in the band, at least according to him, during one of our frequent late nite BBM courtships.

That particular night, I learnt about his health and from my sincere words of concerns, he blurted: “Tak ramai yang concern, maybe sebab orang selalu nampak aku as pak lawak. Duka di hati sapa yang tau.”

Our friendship blossomed through this project. We spent many hours, texting each other, sharing concerns, excitement and our interest in this person, which I will only address as The Content Editor.

The other thing I discovered about AG was the excellent arranger in him. His arrangement for Awanband “Malam Bulan Di Pagar Bintang”, Hujan’s “Tunggu Sekejap”, Azlan & The Typewriter’s “Jeritan Batinku”, Yuna’s “Gelora Jiwa” and The Ramlees’ “Itulah Sayang” are simply outstanding.

Ah… The Ramlees. Let’s save their story for later.

Where was I again? Yup, Azlan & The Typewriter.

On top of Azlan, AG said, Kugiran D’tepi Pantai is also interested to be a part of the project. Cool, something different from Malaysia’s surf music legend.

So from, 10, we now have 19 acts. What?! 19?! Do I have the money to
fund all the 19 acts?

Gulp.

To be continued…

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