Khamis, 14 November 2013

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Profound thoughts from poet-songwriter Ksatriya


When it comes to exploring the interplay between the beat and the word, Ksatriya is the one to watch.

FANCY your music with a bit of bite and social commentary? You may just need to listen to RED, the debut EP from poet and songwriter Ksatriya.

His name means "warrior" in Sanskrit and that's a fitting title indeed for an urban poet who attacks social issues and criticises the sometimes questionable status quo.

In real life, Ksatriya is eloquent, quick-witted and soft-spoken. He is no less eloquent in his music, but his voice takes on an incredible depth and fervour that you wouldn't expect from a slim fella with a weakness for sarcasm.

In Bogeyman, one of the strongest tracks on the eight-song RED, his voice is a sinister monster lurching down the dark alleyways of Malaysia's casual racism, surprisingly agile despite its growling boom.

"Some say he's black and some say he's white/Some say he wears a turban and rides a bike/But there is one thing repeated on TV: that the bogeyman's comin' to steal your honey," he raps.

An honest critique on the racism and other things which Malaysians endure and inflict on others, Ksatriya points out that certain quarters use "fear of the other to keep you in line" and notes that everybody is somebody's Bogeyman.

"I am acutely aware of what it is like to be the bogeyman. I've grown up with people around me telling their kids that I'll carry them away if they don't behave. I've had people tell their children, in front of my face, that if they play with me the black will stick to them," he relates.

When asked if he feels strange turning his everyday voice into a stylised, slinking beast, Ksatriya admits that while it can be odd, it's his job as a performer.

"Each song has a personality. My job is to give that personality a physical presence. I dress it up, comb its hair, make it look presentable and introduce it to the listener. Sometimes, they like what they hear," said the 29-year-old Penangite who began seriously pursuing his creative exploits in 2011.

Reminiscent of Gil-Scott Heron with the theatrical affectation of Peter Murphy and world-weariness of Tom Waits, Ksatriya's music and lyrics pack a heady wallop. The plaintive Salam (which was nominated for a VIMA in 2012) tells of a poet who spends one night in hell and will tug at heartstrings, making you feel homesick for a better time and place that you barely remember. I Need A Drink is a blues-drenched piece about being an outsider and a recluse. Then there's Occupy A Fairytale, about a young woman trying to create a perfect life in an imperfect world.

Another memorable track is the macabre Hantu Balu. which Ksatriya speak-sings in a quavering voice full of the frailty of human life. The lyrics tell of a man who meets a ghost named Balu.

"The song was written following the spate of deaths in (police) custody," explains Ksatriya, who thinks Hantu Balu and Bogeyman are about the ghosts which haunt the nation.

Based in the thriving arts hub of George Town, Ksatriya believes he has always been a performer at heart.

"It was not an accident. I didn't start performing because I didn't have any other way to feed myself. It didn't sneak up on me in the night, hit me on the head with a vase and stuff me in a gunny sack," he jokes.

"I just wanted to write at first. And then I wanted people to listen. And then people kept asking me to talk to them, through my writing, my music, my performances," Ksatriya explains, saying that the positive response has spurred him on to continue creating his art. "This is what I've always wanted to be. It just took me a while to realise it."

Although he used to juggle writing, composing and performing with his day job (psst, it was in IT, infinitely less cool than his sick slick beats), he realised there was no such thing as a "part-time professional" and took a calculated risk by quitting his job and working in music full-time.

"When you have a day job, you're treating your dream as a part-time dalliance. It's the stuff you do once you've give the best hours of your life to someone else's dream. Then you go home exhausted and stressed out, and donate what little you have to your own dreams," notes Ksatriya.

"When you're making music, you're taking on three different full time jobs. I say three so no one dies of a heart attack, but it's more like five. You're the artiste, you're the manager, you're the accountant, you're the promoter, you're the producer.

"Each of those jobs is something someone does full time. You expect to devote one weekend and be really good at all five? Good luck."

Ksatriya dislikes to treat his work like a hobby, fearing that this attitude will cause other people to treat it that way too.

"When you treat your work with the respect and dignity it deserves, other people will do the same."

So far, working on his EP, doing gigs and promoting himself has been "exhilarating, rewarding, liberating – and very frightening."

Constantly seeking challenges, Ksatriya is glad he took the calculated risk as he's never felt more alive than now. His EP was released in early October. He believes its an inherently Malaysian album, and says things that citizens need to hear and say themselves.

"We're at an interesting crossroads, as a culture, as a nation, as a civilisation. And I think we're all stumbling in the dark trying to find some sort of light, some sort of direction. We have an identity that has been chosen for us, but it doesn't really feel right. It doesn't really fit. We're uneasy in our own skin, because it's not really our own skin, is it? I wanted to hold up a mirror to us. And that mirror is RED."

Ksatriya has already begun work on two albums ("just the writing, not the recording!") and juggles this with promoting RED as well as putting together some performances.

"I've had quite a few performances over the last couple of years. I think the most recent one was at The Cooler Lumpur Festival. My favourite performance was at The George Town Literary Festival 2012, because I got to perform Anak Merdeka in front of Pak Samad (national laureate Datuk A. Samad Said). I couldn't tell if he liked it. His beard was in the way," deadpans Ksatriya.

The next few months will be packed with writing, performing, practising, producing, rehearsing, promoting, planning, composing, recording, and hopefully, releasing finished works. He wouldn't want it any other way.

*Ksatriya's RED EP is available from

One Direction’s third album out on Nov 25


In addition to Midnight Memories, the band is scheduled to go on a worldwide stadium tour next year.

ON Nov 25, fans of the British boy band One Direction will celebrate the release of Midnight Memories, available for pre-order since September. The young superstars have also announced a worldwide stadium tour for 2014.

One Direction released their single Best Song Ever this summer, sparking a worldwide controversy that found its expression through social networks. Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson were accused of copying the song Baba O'Riley by The Who.

For this third album, the group worked with talent including producer and singer Pharrell Williams, whose recent hits include Get Lucky and Blurred Lines.

Discovered in 2010 on The X Factor in Britain, the members of One Direction have risen to the rank of global superstars with their first two albums. Take Me Home, the band's second album, topped the charts in over 35 countries, selling 4.4 million copies worldwide. Over the past three years, the band has sold 32 million records and achieved 61 No. 1 singles and albums worldwide, according to their label, Sony Music.

The single Best Song Ever, which has over 153 million views on YouTube and was named Song Of The Summer in the MTV Video Music Awards, indicates that One Direction's third album is destined for commercial success.

A band documentary titled One Direction: This Is Us was released last August, taking the top spot in the British and North American box offices for several weeks running. During its first weekend in US theatres alone, the documentary brought in US$18.4mil (RM55.2mil) in revenues.

In 2014, One Direction will continue to surf the wave of its popularity with a world stadium tour, including two concerts at London's Wembley Stadium.

Tracklist for Midnight Memories

1. Best Song Ever

2. Story Of My Life

3. Diana

4. Midnight Memories

5. You & I

6. Don't Forget Where You Belong

7. Strong

8. Happily

9. Right Now

10. Little Black Dress

11. Through The Dark

12. Something Great

13. Little White Lies

14. Better Than Words – AFP Relaxnews

The big Moonshine party


Local live series Moonshine takes on two stages for its eighth anniversary.

THE Moonshine live series, which started off as an open mic series with an acoustic slant, has grown tremendously in reputation and size.

The upcoming eighth anniversary edition is set to unleash 17 acts and the party will be spread across two stages at the Laundry Bar, the Curve, Mutiara Damansara, in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, on Sunday. A food carnival will also be part of this five-hour celebration.

"Moonshine started off as an acoustic night at No Black Tie in November 2005. Back then, the aim was a modest one – to create an event for singer-songwriters," says Reza Salleh, the founder of the Moonshine series and a recording artiste himself.

"Through the years, we adapted to a growing scene. In fact, we started attracting bands as an accident when we moved to Laundry Bar. Some thought it was an amped up show, and brought their own gear. Gradually, Moonshine grew and became a platform for acoustic and full band acts," he adds.

Darren Ashley is the young man you can count on to get the groove on.

Darren Ashley is the young man you can count on to get the groove on.

Toplining the free admission event this Sunday will be established names and Moonshine regulars like Liyana Fizi, Darren Ashley, Tempered Mental, Tenderfist, Diandra Arjunaidi, Asmidar, Love Me Butch and others.

Love Me Butch, featuring (from left) bassist Kevin Kong, drummer Jana, guitarist Wing Meng and frontman Syarul Reza, aiming to bring the noise to the Moonshine anniversary party.

Love Me Butch, featuring (from left) bassist Kevin Kong, drummer Jana, guitarist Wing Meng and frontman Syarul Reza, aiming to bring the noise to the Moonshine anniversary party.

The rock and singer-songwriter genres look well represented, but it's good to find hip-hop acts Sona One and Arabyrd, electro-pop group Pastel Lite, cello and drum act Paladin, and jazz funk outfit Bassment Syndicate in the line-up. Reza Salleh, obviously, is also part of the stageside festivities.

"It's a night for everybody! We have tried to cover as many genres as possible – there will be something for everyone," assures Reza.

Each act is due a 15-minute set. Doors open at 7pm. More info at


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