Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Interview on WAVELENGTH with Ali Johan on BFM in PJ, Malaysia - August 16, 2014

Here's a link to the INTERVIEW on WAVELENGTH with Ali Johan on BFM from Aug 16, 2014, last week!!

Many thanks to Ali Johan, and BFM for inviting me to be on Wavelength.

And thanks also to Joe Chelliah for making the special effort to contact BFM on my behalf to suggest that they interview me.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Giving a talk about my research project in Singapore tomorrow evening!


Took a bus back to SIngapore the very next day.. toured Jalan Ampas studios, and met the Rythmn Boys!

 JALAN AMPAS STUDIOS - Where Tan Sri P Ramlee's films were made for SHAW STUDIOS. 
(thanks to SHAW BROTHERS for giving me an exclusive tour and entry to the grounds)

Then the very same day, I went to Geylang Serai (the seedy red light district of Singapore - once called THE LIVERPOOL of Singapore) to meet the legendary Rythmn Boys - one of the absolute TOP bands from those days - and backing band for Adnan Othman for 4 EPs.

MEETING Zaleha Hamid again, and one day in Cool, Funky Johor Bahru

My sole mission in going to JOHOR was to meet up with 60s and 70s pop star Zaleha Hamid again. However, as a huge bonus, I also met up with a young lawyer in JB name Yi who bought my Pop Yeh Yeh comp and contacted me via Instagram.  He offered to show me around JB and also took me to the location for the interview with Zaleha.

The interview was AMAZING.  I will post some more anecdotes from this talk with Malay pop and "Dangdut Queen of Malaysia" very soon.
It also turned out that a really cool artists collective called JOHO (named for the local pronunciation of JOHOR) was right next to the shop where I did the interview with Zaleha Hamid.

Me and Yi
One of the artists for GOOGLE DOODLE visited JOHO's new location recently and decorated one of the walls.  It's really impressive close up but I couldnt manage to get a very good shot.

After the interview with Zaleha, Yi gave me his "Ten Cent Tour" of all the hip cool spots in JB (will post photos and links soon!), and then, offered me a spare bed to crash on at his family home.  SO GRATEFUL TO THIS GUY!!

Parting is such sweet sorrow....

Finally, the time to leave KL arrived and I had to say goodbye to Adnan and Fatimah, who have shown me the most incredible kindness and generosity in the past week.  Here's a photo taken the morning they drove me to the bus station (where I departed for Johor Bahru, and the Singapore the next day).  Words cannot express how grateful I am to them for all the help they gave me this past week.   I hope to see them again soon.   THANK YOU ADNAN and FATIMAH.

Of course, I also had to take a photo with Adnan's super-cool daughter Ariana who plays guitar in the power pop group COUPLE and also in the moody, experimental group The Venopian Solitude.

Interviews at THE STAR and BFM

BU 8 Building in PJ  - Home of BFM -  the Business Station
 A peek inside the BFM office
 ADNAN chatting with ALI JOHAN - host of "The Muddy Confluence" on BFM (among other productions he contributes to there)
I was invited by Ali Johan to do another interview at BFM (I did one with She Fah Szetu back in 2010) a day or so before I left KL.  Adnan came along and talked with Ali Johan a little bit before our interview (he said he didnt want to be interviewed and would rather that I do the talking for now.)

Then, the next day, I met up with Zack Yusof - a writer and producer for THE STAR.  He took me to HARD GRAFT RECORDS to do a video interview for THE STAR ONLINE  Zack also happens to do a show on BFM called 33RPM

I will post links to BOTH of these interviews as soon as they are available, but for now, I thought I'd just post some photos, and say THANKS to both of them for covering my POP YEH YEH Research project. 

Looking at photo albums with Adnan Othman

Adnan Othman and I are working on a compilation of his songs from the 60s which will be coming out very very soon on Sublime Frequencies. We spent a lot of time over the past week working on the liner notes for this comp and making sure everything was correct.  

On one of the last evenings I stayed at his house, Adnan brought out a few very precious photo albums and we went through them one by one and he told me stories about the photos.  We discussed various ways of preserving the photos in a better way also and he and I agreed that we should purchase some new photo albums for these rare relics from his personal, and pop star life.

It was really magical to look through these photos with him, and i really picked up on the "feeling" of those days from looking at them with him and listening to his stories.

Meeting members of L Ramli's "Orkes Teruna Ria" at SALOMA BISTRO in KL

A day before I left KL, I met members of Orkes Teruna Ria - including Mamu Abbas (top - 2nd from left), Yaacob Bakar (top - far Right), and June Izzudin (bottom Right). 

You can also see our favorite Guest Blogger and POP YEH YEH expert, Ghaz in this photo (2nd from right - top). He stopped by on his lunch break (he works close to KLCC)!

Encik Yaacob Bakar was the bassist for Orkes Teruna Ria and joined sometime in the late 60s (must verify all facts later as I'm posting on the run from my hotel before I have to go meet someone!).

  He suggested that we meet at SALOMA BISTRO -- an elegant restaurant with outdoor tables under canopies and a couple really beautiful indoor dining rooms as well.  Everywhere around this restaurant you can see photos from the golden years of Malay Film --photos of Tan Sri P Ramlee, Saloma (his wife and co-star) and many many other actors and actresses.  One could spend hours just looking at the photos.  But I was here to talk to these POP YEH YEH artists about their days with Orkes Teruna Ria.   This group was one of the formative bands of the POP YEH YEH sound - and they were all based in Penang back in the day.

Here's a snap.  Will post more detailed history here later.

 YAACOB BAKAR (an old photo of himself from his phone)
YAACOB and his wife and the singer of the group JUNE IZZUDIN today

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Interviews in Melacca and Seramban

After lunch in Melacca, we proceeded to a hotel at the suggestion of Joe Chelliah (Jayhawkers) to do some interviews in "library silence" as Joe put it.    This was an excellent alternative to filming the interviews in a hot crowded outdoor restaurant.

I interviewed A Halim, Hussaini B, and Zainal Omara here.  I was lucky that Adnan Othman agreed to help with translations because Zainal was not comfortable answering the questions in English although he understands English well.

Afterwards we toured around Melacca, which still retains much of its Portugese influence from the days when Portugal occupied this port city, and then proceeded to Seramban, where Joe Chelliah's house is.  Joe invited the lead singer of his old band, Roziah Latiff, and she showed up about an hour after we arrived at his house.  This day was long, and tiring, but extremely productive, and it wouldn't have been possible if Adnan, Joe, and the rest of the singers hadnt agreed to help me so much.

Top left : with Roziah Latiff of the Jayhawkers, Top right : Adnan assists with an interview in Malay
Bottom Left: after a long day on the road, Joe Chelliah's wife Nohamidah offered us tea and food ("Rendang"),  Bottom right: with Zainal Omara of the Dreamers

Monday, August 11, 2014

Met several more Pop Yeh Yeh artists!! (and interviewed them)

Yesterday, Adnan Othman decided to help me in a major way (again) by hooking me up with some more Pop Yeh Yeh artists who lived in Muar Johor.  We decided to meet them in Melacca instead though.  And we had planned to drive through Seramban on the way back to meet Roziah Latiff also - singer of the Jayhawkers.  

However, Adnan's car broke down on the way!!! so we were stranded, and it started getting late so I was really worried that we'd miss our appointments. 

We called Joe Chelliah (leader of the Jayhawkers) who lives nearby, and he offered to pick us up and take us to Melacca since he wasnt doing much that day anyway and thought it would be fun to see these other artists and also show me around in Melacca.

We decided to have lunch at a very popular Malaysian fish stand called "Asam Pedas Pak Man

The specialty dish is called  "Asam Pedas"

Here's a group photo with all the Pop Yeh Yeh legends after we ate Asam Pedas for lunch.  

We headed to a hotel to do interviews afterwards (at the suggestion of Joe Chelliah) - what a day!!

Left to right: A. Halim, Adnan Othman, Zainal Omara, me looking very hot and tired, Joe Chelliah, Husaini B, and A Halim's wife Fatimah in Melaka. 

Note:  I tried to erase the sweat on my shirt with my phone although I dont have photoshop here... that's why it looks like a magazine cover Photoshop Fail!    The combination of super hot, humid Melacca weather and super Hot/Sour fish broth caused this -- plus the fact that I was feeling a summer cold coming on, and I was totally stoked to meet these artists.. but the pressure was mounting to interview them after lunch also.   

I will post more photos of Melacca (and maybe a few shots of the food) here ASAP!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Meeting Joe Chelliah (of The Jayhawkers)

Yesterday evening, I was invited to meet Joe Chelliah (founder and lead guitarist of the Jayhawkers, and also... music historian, scholar, and event manager) at the Royal Selangor Club -- a historic country club left behind from the days of British rule here in Malaysia. It is right next to Medeka Square aka Dataran Merdeka, where Malaysian Independence was declared and the Union Flag was lowered and the Malayan flag hoisted for the first time at midnight (time: 12:00 AM) on August 31, 1957.

Joe and I discussed Malaysian history and culture, and also the effects of European colonialism.

Joe is a fascinating person and I was very happy to see him also, four years after meeting him in JB in 2010.

Meeting Dato' A Rahman Hassan of Orkes Nirwana

Dato' A Rahman Hassan (left) and Adnan Othman (right)  

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to meet Dato' A Rahman Hassan again. It's been 4 years since I last saw him.  Dato' Rahman is the founder of the "Pop Yeh Yeh Welfare Club" which is an organization founded for the benefit of Pop Yeh Yeh artists.  He is also the leader, founder, and guitarist of Orkes Nirwana, one of the longest running Pop Yeh Yeh groups (next year will be their 50th Anniversary).

I was able to ask him some additional questions that I didnt get to ask him during my first visit in 2010, and he also played a few songs on a little acoustic guitar while we sat in his living room with him, Adnan, and two other friends of his.

Mandatory photo under KLCC Petronas Towers

Meeting guest blogger and Pop Yeh Yeh scholar, Ghaz in KL

Two days ago, I met Ghaz, who frequently writes for this blog, in KL for lunch. When I arranged the meeting with him the night before, he said that he stayed up late drawing up a mind-map of how the Pop Yeh Yeh artists and bands were all related to eachother.  You might say it was similar to a family tree of bands and performers. This document was very informative, and I am always so impressed by Ghaz's ability to clearly explain the history and important context and relationships of these groups.

After we finished lunch, he drew up an additional time line showing how the pop music changed from the 50s to the early 60s with film songs by legends like P Ramlee, Saloma, Fazidah Joned, etc, to the mid to late 60s when Pop Yeh Yeh had its golden era, and then on to the 70s when the style changed again to a more slick studio production and sound.

I look forward to reading more posts by Ghaz in the future here on this site and I consider myself very lucky to have such a knowledgeable friend.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Adnan Othman!

Currently visiting Adnan Othman at his house ....  here he is with two young cats that were from a litter of four (two were given away) so Adnan's daughter Ariana named them after THE BEATLES.... this is Ringo and John! 

More interviews and meetings

To be honest, I'm sort of having trouble keeping up with everything since I got to KL...  and didnt have internet all day yesterday... So I'm just putting up a few photos for now just to keep things up to date, then heading out to see Adnan Othman's daughter Ariana play music tonight!

 Joe Pereira -  author of several definitive books about Singapore music- (at Tekka Centre - Little India)
 Famie, of modern Singapore pop yeh yeh influenced band "The Pinholes"- at a studio his friend of Stone Revivals is building. 
With Pop Yeh Yeh legend, Zam Zam (Zam Zam and the Twilites)

 Photo from popoknet.blogspot.com/

 Encik Osman Ariffin
 Art Fazil - popular Modern Malay Folk Musician

M.I.A. - Mohd Ismail Abdullah

My last day in Singapore I met the First Malay DJ -  M.I.A. (Mohd Ismail Abdullah) - host of Radio Singapore's weekly Top Chart "Lagu Pujaan Minggu Ini" (Hit song of the week)  

(will add more text to these posts soon!)    

Sunday, August 3, 2014

a few more random photos from my time here in Singapore

This month is the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival 
TOP :  a tent for performances related to the Ghost Festival
 BOTTOM: burning ghost money (joss paper) as offerings to the dead- you also see cakes, plates of food, oranges, cups of coffee, etc placed outside on corners and steps for the ghosts


Chinese Roast Pig


Maha Sasana Ramsi -  Burmese Theravada Buddhist Temple in Singapore  - founded in 1875  wikipedia;  and official website 
Tai Pei Yuen Temple (formerly known as Kwan Yin Lodge) 


 Balesteir Road


random Chinese mythological wall decoration

TEKKA Centre in Singapore's Little India

Hawker Center (food market) where I ate BBQ Stingray

Now Showing at Shaw Plaza!