Warm and fuzzy
The newly-minted AcousticMania series captures homegrown hopefuls under the No Black Tie spotlight.
The newly-minted Acoustic Mania series captures homegrown hopefuls under the No Black Tie spotlight.
LOCAL acoustic song-smithery has certainly been on a healthy upswing in recent times. Practitioners of bucolic, confessional, heart-on-sleeve exhortations seem to be finding no lack of avenues and audiences for their creative output. After all, it is a scene that has spawned such grassroots success stories as Yuna and Zee Avi.
Live venue No Black Tie in Kuala Lumpur and event organiser Moonshine surely recognise its value and are lending their full support in co-organising the two-day Acoustic Mania event this Sunday and Monday. According to No Black Tie proprietor Evelyn Hii, the venue has had a long tradition of highlighting singer-songwriters and Acoustic Mania will introduce audiences to a diverse selection of 12 of the finest out there. The intended vibe is the “sharing and exchanging of musical thoughts and ideas, and revelling in each others’ music.”
Moonshine’s main man Reza Salleh says that the two-day set-up is a natural fit for the influx of new singer-songwriter talent out there, so freshness is definitely on the menu. A diverse array of channels was open to Reza for the new discoveries – from YouTube to mutual acquaintances and exposure at other events.
Acoustic Mania itself will be presented in a “songwriters’ round” format which sees acts on stage together taking turns to perform their material – an arrangement that has done well to encourage interaction between acts and the audiences themselves.
Acoustic Mania’s first night will be anchored by Reza himself as a performer, who’s in the midst of preparing his longawaited debut album for release. Impressively, the man has over 10 years of material to choose from for the show.
Other highlights include newcomer Narmi, who may be better known as Imran Fadzil, drummer for high-octane pop punkers One Buck Short. He has come into his own as a solo performer. The idea had been in the works for a few years, but came to fruition when Reza booked Imran for a show after seeing him do his thing at One Buck Short frontman Mooky’s wedding.
Halfway Kings are also a duo of new faces who’ve garnered attention for their quirky sense of humour and a penchant for recording live videos at unlikely outdoor locations. Expect their tunes to “kick a** in three minutes or less.” Finally on the first night,
In the line-up are (from left) Reza Salleh, Diandra Arjunaidi, Liyana Fizi and Halfway Kings, featuring Adeline Chua and Joachim Sebastian. we’ll also be seeing Asmidar (formerly of The Glance) and veteran Zalila Lee hitting the stage some heady originals.
The second night of Acoustic Mania will be no less engaging, especially with the unique musical perspectives of expats David Knight and Farai Hughgrie. Transplanted from his native California to Kuala Lumpur for awhile now, Knight has been wowing local audiences with his richly layered, emotionally complex acoustic-electronic compositions, drawing favourable comparisons to everyone from Jeff Buckley to Boards of Canada. ICOM student Farai Hughgrie himself hails from Zimbabwe and offers a refreshing fusion of Westerninfluenced indie pop shot through an African lens.
Elsewhere, we also have Aiqa Halim and Diandra Arjunaidi, who represents the new guard of female singer-songwriters who draw from a variety of R&B, jazz, and pop traditions, all wrapped up in a bundle of warmand-fuzzy sensibilities that should go down well with listeners with gentler preferences.
Acoustic Mania will also feature soul crooner Najwa, who’ll be stripping down her material to just piano and acoustic guitar accompaniment. According to Najwa, she’s also looking forward to the opportunity for greater audience interaction, something that’s rarely experienced at other formal, corporate events that she performs at.
Liyana Fizi may well be the old hand of the night, but as far as she’s concerned it’s a fresh start as a solo performer away from her old outfit Estrella. Her new compact acoustic duo
Aiqa Halim and Najwa (pic left) will add to the mania, too. line-up also appears to be a better fit with her lovely bossa nova pop aesthetic and she looks set to impress during the night as well.
All in all, Acoustic Mania should be another positive step towards the cultivation of a vibrant singer-songwriter community.
The scene’s vitality is pretty evident as Reza himself underscores the ingredients for success: “A continuous presence of quality acts and shows that help signify a healthy scene and regular open mics that allow for everyone to participate and develop themselves from the bottom up.” n No Black Tie & Moonshine presents Acoustic Mania, which runs for two nights on Sunday and Monday. Showtime is 9pm. Cover charge is RM20 (per show). Venue address: No Black Tie, 17 Jalan Mesui, off Jalan Nagasari, Kuala Lumpur. For bookings, call % 03-2142 3737 (after 5pm). Browse (http://www.facebook.com/ moonshine.kl).
On with the show:
Starry, starry night: