"It's definitely an amazing feeling." -- A Special Interview with RAMAYAN
Di Persiaran Cakrawala, the first vinyl of Ramayan, has attracted much interest worldwide since its release.
This time, we had a special interview with the band members to talk about the stories that happened behind the scene.
Omar, Pi'e, Que (L - R)
■ Could you please tell us how the band got together?
Before Ramayan was formed, Que (drums) and I; Pi'e (vocals) had another band that went by the name of Remote. We used to get together to jam and write songs at a studio called Ruang Irama (Rhythm Space), which belonged to a close friend who happens to be the guitarist of another Malaysian Psych-rock band called 'Pitahati.'
Pitahati - Naraka
It was the year 2014, and we were lacking a bassist. During a gig, the two of us got to know Omar (bass), and after a long conversation on similar musical tastes spanning from The Beatles to The Queens of the Stone Age, we decided to invite him over for a jam session.
During the session, in which we had attempted to do a cover of George Harrison's 'Beware of Darkness, we spontaneously broke into an original jam, which laid the foundations of Ramayan's first-ever song called 'Gemalai'. We got together some more afterward, and Amin (former guitar), a studio tenant, used to watch us play.
RAMAYAN-Gemalai / Ramayan's first-ever song
One day he decided to pick up the guitar during a session and played along to our songs. Liking what he brought in to the songs, we invited him for the next session. However, without the rest of the band knowing, he had invited Naz (former keys), who was his close friend at the time, to come and play the keys. Although we were surprised at first, it turned out to be a miracle, as it turned Ramayan from being a solely guitar-driven band to something bigger shortly after we changed the band name to Ramayan.
The original 5 members of RAMAYAN
■ What kind of activities do you usually do?
Currently, as we're still adapting and adjusting to the endemic state, we're doing many ordinary activities. Since covid had hit us, we're mostly in a survival mode, and since we're not really full-time musicians, we have other commitments like day jobs, etc to support this passion and the family.
Omar is actually completing his Masters, Syafi'i has done some hosting work and would busk around sometimes, and Que is currently in Singapore for work purposes as well, so there's that. We'd probably do things to keep ourselves sane in our leisure time, like sports, writing music, or sometimes just existing, haha.
■ RAMAYAN's music is a unique sound for all of us. Where did your inspiration for music production come from?
We never really had one specific inspiration when it came to music production. When we were starting out, we used to try to emulate the sounds of Tame Impala, with their highly processed drums and heavily phased guitar sounds.
We kept some of those principles later on and tried to find our own identity by listening to many different artists, like ABBA, The Beatles, and Todd Rundgren, to emulate and somewhat translate vintage sounds into modern music.
■ Many listeners are surprised to hear that there is a psychedelic rock band in Malaysia. Is there a psychedelic rock scene in Malaysia? Would you mind telling us about the Malaysian indie scene?
Not really. Psych music is still pretty nice here, and most psychedelic bands are basically our circle of friends, haha!
We actually share members and swab members between these bands. Sometimes the drummer of this band would go on to play keys for the other band, and the frontman of the other would go on to play guitar for this band, etc.
So we could say that the 'Psychedelic Rock scene' is just a bunch of people, a group of friends that are trying to make a scene.
The Malaysian indie scene, however, is very, very diverse. There's something for everybody, with every genre possible. Still, of course, there are a few dominant ones like Hip Hop/RnB, indie pop/rock, and metal, which would also be split between Malay music listeners and the 'urban' kind of English music listeners.
Still, all in all, it is very much happening and exciting.
■ You wrote all the lyrics in Malaysian. We believe that your music is influenced by Malaysian rock in deep. What do you think are the characteristics of Malaysian rock? Also, which artist would you recommend to our listeners from overseas?
It is somewhat difficult to pinpoint a specific characteristic. Malaysian Rock is often divided into two; mainstream rock, which comprises mostly of ballads characterized by power vocals, guitar-shredding,heavy metal riffs with orchestral arrangements, and indie rock; which could be anything from post-rock, garage, punk and others.
It has been said that Malaysian Rock, no matter what genre, tends to be more melodic, laidback, and sometimes melancholic.
Pi’e recommendation: Sendiket Jongkong Emas, Pitahati, Kembara, Noh Salleh
Sendiket Jongkong Emas (SaJE) - !
Kembara - Hati Emas
NOH SALLEH - ANGIN KENCANG
Que: I would personally recommend LUST, Margasatwa, Golden Mammoth, Sheila Majid, and The Venopian Solitude
Lust - Good To Know - Live
Golden Mammoth - Live At Melodiya (Full Session)
Sheila Majid performs Sinaran at 18th Tokyo Music Festival in1989
THE VENOPIAN SOLITUDE - BUBAR
Omar: Apart from the recommendations above, you guys can check out The Impatient Sisters, Leaism, Salam Musik, Monoloque, Pea Bees, Alleycats, Carefree, Kenny Remy & Martin, and also Sudirman.
The Impatient Sisters / Hey There Young Sailor
LEAISM - MURKA JIWA
Salammusik, Altimet Ft. Az Samad - Bangkit
MonoloQue / Tiada Kata Scantik Bahasa
■ Would you please tell us your upcoming plans?
Well, we are trying to do what we've been meaning to do if it wasn't for Covid, to play live shows again, promote and tour the album! Thankfully the restrictions have progressively eased here in Malaysia, so we started to perform again here and there, although not in the full capacity as there are still safety measures and SOPs to make sure it is in control.
Other than that, we are actually looking to record another album sometime around March/April next year, which has been made possible by government funding. The details of this album are pretty much secret, but as of now, I can say that it'll probably take our listeners by surprise.
So, stay tuned!
■ What message would you like to send to our overseas music fans?
Thank you for giving out music the chance, and for us to grow by listening and supporting us.
It's definitely an amazing feeling that our music which are all written in Malay, albeit the language barrier, could still penetrate your ears, heart, and soul (hopefully).
Our dream is to play these songs for you live someday, and your support is definitely one of the reasons for us to keep doing what we're doing because it means so much.
Title : Di Persiaran Cakrawala (On the Road to the Universe)
Release Media：12inch LP
Release Label： BIG ROMANTIC RECORDS
Release Code： BRRCD-082
Price：3300JPY + tax
2.Permulaan Cinta Intan / The Dawn of Diamond Love 4:22
3.Lamunan Anak Bulan / Daydreams of the Moonchild 6:23
5.Moronik / Moronic 4:47
6.Di Persiaran Cakrawala / On the Road to the Universe 6:22
7.Air Mata Raja / The King’s Tears 4:37
8.Puas / Tired 4:46
9.Taman Bahagia / The Garden of Happiness 4:58
10.Kebebasan / Freedom 5:01
※With lyrics card in Malaysian, English, Japanese, and Chinese.
Omar (Bass, Bass Synth) / Pi’e (Vocals,Keyboards, Guitar) / Que(Drums, Synths)
A neo-psychedelic pop/rock outfit formed in September of 2014, based in Malaysia, formed by five original members but currently consisting of three members; Pi'e (Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar), Omar (Bass, Bass Synth), and Que (Drums, Synths). In the same year, Ramayan was signed under the Malaysia-based independent record label, Luncai Emas Sdn Bhd.