Perihal Dulu and Sekarang
I am blessed for being able to be actively involved with the local underground/urban/indie music scene and for better or worst, a lot have obviously changed since I was first exposed to it back in 1991. For nostalgic purposes and also as something that serves as a learning curve (if there’s anything to be learn from it), I present you the Dulu and Sekarang of the Malaysian underground/urban/indie music (depending on which era you came from).
*Disclaimer: This is nowhere near from being the complete picture; this is based on my own experiences, observations and participations during the period of 1991 – 2012.
DULU: Internet was still science fiction in Malaysia and the available sources of information were magazines, mainly Kerrang and NME. Fanzines were quintessential notably Joe Kidd’s Aedes, Ajizzz’s Vortex From The East, Midi’s Parasit & Nazri’s Heartcore.
SEKARANG: Every single thing is at one’s fingertip, information overload. Tapi tu lah… Many feel informed just by reading a 140 words post. Proper reading takes time in today’s fast-paced living
DULU: You discovered this band called Rage Against the Machine. The next thing you do is to dig out their history. Did the band members played in other bands before; What are the bands that inspired them; What other bands that sounded like them; what do they stood for as a unit.
SEKARANG: You read Pitchforkmedia and discover this exciting new band. You quickly download their album, and if their hip factor is high you invest in their T-shirt.
DULU: A hardcore punk band that is known for their stand, mainly anti-mainstream, decided to sell their demo slightly higher than the scene standard pricing of RM5. Sellout.
SEKARANG: What stand again? Mic stand is it? No? Well, who cares, I’m only into the music, and maybe that stylish guy in the band, and also maybe their level of hipness (but must be of a level of worldwide scale lah)
DULU: You wear this cool Sid Vicious T-shirt that you bought from Kedai Waris in Puduraya. You wanted to be seen by the scenesters in Central Market. You were stopped by one of them. Not to be pau-ed, but to be asked this question: “Who’s the guy on the T-shirt eh?” And your answer was, the guy is the Sex Pistols’ singer. Life for you will never be the same since.
SEKARANG: There’s this band that’s currently very hip. Curious, you Youtubed it. Hmm… okay lah, boleh layan lah. By chance you stumbled upon this website that sells their T-shirt, which you are very sure, no one have worn it before. You click checkout and by the time you wear it a week or two later, you’re the coolest kid in town. When asked how’s the band’s new album, you answer would be:
A. “I think they lost it.”
B. “Okay la, I haven’t finished listening to it.”
C. “You seriously think I would wear sucky bands T-shirt? C’mon!”
DULU: You move up the “ranks” of the scene by your knowledge about your genre of choice.
SEKARANG: You move up the ranks by the number of popular/influential people that follows you on Twitter or at least reply your tweets regularly.
DULU: You actively participate in the scene of your choice. Everything was communal and everyone was doing his or her bit for the scene.
SEKARANG: Participations are higher, most of the time as backbenchers and whistleblowers. If things didn’t go your way, you criticize. If you are not invited to be part of this project this other person is doing, you accused them of being cliquey and/or bias. Doing it Yourself? You’re kidding me? I am doing it for myself.
DULU: To be featured in mainstream media is equivalent to lose a lot of friends within the scene. You sold out boss; we are no longer in the same path.
SEKARANG: Not to be featured in mainstream media loses you your cred. Rightfully so, because if you are good, the media would want to feature you, no?
DULU: Radio airplay? What’s that?
SEKARANG: You are not supporting Malaysian talents by not playing our songs bro. I’m sure there’s payola and cronyism somewhere.
DULU: The moment you associated yourself with a particular genre, you will be automatically entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that you stay true to the ideals behind it. You can’t just dig the music and then claim to be in a scene, you need to live by it.
SEKARANG: Err… what ideals? I thought it’s only music?
DULU: “Aku mat punk!” and you have to be prepared to justify that statement by elaborating what does punk rock mean to you, the history behind it, its ideals and so forth.
SEKARANG: “Aku budak hardcore” and you have to be prepared with your favourite band’s coolest T-shirt, look like them, dance like them and be in touch with the particular music current affairs. History? Who cares about history, we are youth of today!
DULU: You do it because you love it
SEKARANG: You do it because you love and you get paid rather fairly for it
DULU: Entry to gigs is priced at RM10. If you are lucky, you might get in for free posing as one of the performing bands’ crew.
SEKARANG: Gigs are most of the time free. If you are lucky, you might get into the VIP are posing as one of the performing bands’ crew.
DULU: You dress like how you are expected to within your scene of choice.
NOW: You dress fashionably
DULU: You spend your evenings sipping a glass of teh tarik in Restoran Hameed while discussing about music, ideals, trading tapes, magazines, fanzines etc.
NOW: Your spend most of your time communicating via Twitter, probably in Bangsar, or Hartamas or Publika.
DULU: You wait religiously for Joe Kidd’s Blasting Concept weekly column in The Sun to read about the latest news or thought related to the scene.
NOW: You wait religiously for the story about your band to be published in magazines and newspapers.