10 Feb 2006

Sabah’s Jiaja revive the Woodstock era in explosive fashion!

Malay Mail, The Buzz
Music: Classic rockers
Feb 8:

Sabah’s Jiaja revive the Woodstock era in explosive fashion, writes TERRINA HUSSEIN.

WHEN four-piece Jiaja first hit the Blast Off! stage, belting out a classic rock track, The Who’s Who Are You, there was a decidedly different feel in the air.

Even host Ean said after the set, that he felt like he was at Woodstock.

The interesting revelation is that Ji (24, vocals, guitar) Aja (25, vocals, bass), Karuk (20, vocals, drums) and Jim (24, vocals, keyboards) are all students, studying at the Sabah Institute of Arts (SIA).

They’ve all been together as a band for two years, but individually, have been sessioning for years.

Brothers Ji and Aja were brought up in a musical family. With a father who collected guitars and vinyls, musical input wasn’t hard to come by, and it is now reflected in their current musical tastes and influences.

With tracks like Lenny Kravitz Are You Gonna Go My Way and Fly Away, Jet’s Are You Gonna Be My Girl, Jimi Hendrix’ Voodoo Chile and last Friday’s Give It Away by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Jiaja are the only band in the competition to have stayed clear of covering a Top Ten song.

And it seems to have worked in their favour, ensuring they stand apart from the other bands still in the competition.

Below The Radar caught up with them to find out what made them tick:

How’d the group start?

Ji: We’re all classmates at SIA, and we’re in the final year of our Diploma in Music Studies. SIA’s been really supportive of the competition, and we all got a two-month exemption from our course.

Karuk: But when we go back, we have a lot to catch up!

What are your influences?

Ji: I like Deep Purple, Led Zepplin, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Oasis. I think the late 60s was the birth of the rock era, and the 70s is when it expanded into the music scene.

Aja: The 60s was the essence of rock music with bands like The Who, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix. Even for the bands today, they are obvious influences. I think everything in life is a circle, even with music, everything old is new again.

Karuk: I like the punk rock scene, like Blink 182.

Have you guys recorded or released anything yet? In what language?

Aja: We’ve recorded demos.

Ji: They’re just raw recordings of ideas. Written in English and Malay.

Jim: We have 15 songs ‘yang bolehlah’!

Explain how your music sounds to someone who hasn’t heard it before.

Ji: It’s what we like to call ‘free-rock’. It’s a blend of blues, funk, punk rock, jazz.

Aja: It’s a fusion of everything.

Why join Blast Off!?

Ji: We want to expose the band to the public, and it’s a new experience for us. Also coming from Sabah, we get to experience a different music scene, and watch other bands.

Aja: We just want to join the Malaysian music industry.

Ji: Sabah’s quite isolated, and since we’ve been here, we are seeing how the KL scene works.

Are you surprised to have made it this far?

Ji, Karuk, Jim: Yes.

Aja: Actually… of course we planned to get as far as we can, but sometimes, even if you give it your all, you don’t make it, so we’re thankful.

Do you think singing only cover songs limits a band’s chances?

Ji: Yes. It doesn’t let the true flavour of the band show.

Aja: Cover songs don’t show your true shape. When you play a cover song, you can only see the outer beauty, but you need to see the ‘inner’ beauty of a band too.

How has the Blast Off! experience been so far?

Ji: It’s taught us how to interact with the camera, and with the audience. We’ve never been on a television show before.

Aja: When we’re studying music, we learn the technical side to it, but we’ve also learnt how to look nice on stage, how to be cheerful and entertain the crowd, and how to interact with people and other bands - that’s part of the music education for me.

Do you think the fact that votes are based 100% on the audience is good or bad?

Ji: I don’t think it’s fair, because it’s now more about popularity than talent.

Aja: And it reflects that the band already has to be popular to get the votes! I guess you just have to do your best, and know that the critiques watching know about music. If there’s talent somewhere, someone will notice you, and will know what to do.

What are your plans if you win?

Ji: Go home, rest!

Karuk: Buy a drum set!

Aja: Vacation.

Ji: We’ll use it to record, buy equipment and hopefully, promote our release.

What do you think of the Malaysian rock scene?

Ji: Since we’ve been in KL, we’ve noticed that the rock scene today is more into the US sound. That’s fine, to copy the US sound, but what happened to our own language? We should use our own language to sing in, no matter what genre you chose. Even if you play heavy metal, sing it in Malay, at least then it will have a Malaysian feel to it, the identity is still there.

Aja: You can imitate a band’s sound, but you should use your own language, then you can make that sound yours.

To vote for Jiaja

Mobile: SMS BAND JIAJA to 32888
Fixed line: DIAL 13712, followed by 6


Anonymous said...

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dBOS-fm said...

Good to hear that..thanks!