Salammusik promotes the Malay language overseas
Published on: Friday, January 23, 2015
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Selangor: Would songs in the Malay language have commercial value overseas? The question haunted every member of Salammusik when they were given the chance to perform in Europe, two years ago.

Despite the nagging doubts and performance jitters, the hip-hop outfit continued to advocate the Malay language through their songs overseas.

They believed in the uniqueness of the language and were elated when the crowd reciprocated by cheering wildly during their performance at the Sfinks Mixed Festival in Boechout, Belgium, two years ago.

"Our worries dissipated when we saw the audiences' reaction. They sang along to our Malay songs even though they did not understand a word of it.

"We have English songs in our album, too, but we wanted to capture the global market with Malay songs," said the group's founding member Ashraaf Salam A. Azlan, better known as Salam.

Their unique debut performance had, interestingly, opened them up to further invitations to perform at music festivals around Europe.

The 11-member group started becoming the talk of the town through their song "Cerita Kedai Kopi", a collaboration with popular hip-hop artistes DJ Fuzz and Malique.

The popularity of the song eventually brought Salammusik official recognition when it won the Best Hip-Hop Song award at the 17th Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM)(Malaysian Music Industry Award) in 2010.

It was an unexpected achievement for Salammusik who had only been in the industry for four years. In 2012, the group once again stepped onto the AIM stage to receive the award for the Best Album of the Year.

Not wanting to rest on its laurels, the group started setting its eyes on what most artistes dream of: making it big on the global market.

That was why the chance to perform for an hour at the Sfinks Mixed Festival was not put to waste.

It was not only for the empowerment of the Malay language but to get the world acquainted with Malaysia through the influence of music, said Salam.

"Some people think that in order to penetrate the international market, we have to sing in their language. We are not compelled to do what others do. The Malay language has its own value and following.

"Furthermore, it was the uniqueness of the Malay language that elicited such enthusiastic reaction from the crowd," said Salam.

They were proven to be right in their judgement and went on to perform at various music festivals in the United Kingdom and Netherlands.

They performed at the Firehouse in UK and the Call of the Mall Festival, during Solar Weekend, at the Mysteryland Festival and the Landjuweel Festival in the Netherlands.

"They have even asked us of our next availability to perform again. This year, we have already been fully booked to perform at music festivals in Spain," said Salam.

Besides Salam, the other group members are known as Eyza Bahra, Kamal Razali, AhmadBulya Abdillah J., Adam Shahrir Omar, Efry Arwis, Payung, Jazmi Jamaluddin (Jaz), Tip, M. Firdaus Aziz (D'Jambul) and Kevin Theng.

Before forming Salammusik, the group used to perform in the streets overseas. Salam recalled the lukewarm reception to their performance of English songs, in contrast to the excitement conjured when they performed in Malay.

During the festival, audiences were not only impressed by the songs but by the appearance of the members, who were decked in traditional Malay attire, and the stage, which was decorated with various Malaysian handicraft.

Their musical genre also separated them from other contemporary performers. Salammusik combines modern and traditional melodies, highlighting the use of gamelan musical instruments and the tabla, creating music that is memorable to audiences.

"Language and geographical borders are not barriers. Our albums are sold out after every performance. European audiences even approach us after each performance, asking about our songs.

"They wanted to know what certain words meant. This indirectly promotes the Malay language to the world," he said.

The overwhelming response has prompted Salammusik to produce a second album entitled "O". The album features English translations to the lyrics of their Malay songs, for the benefit of non-Malay speaking audiences.

On the future direction of Salammusik, Kamal said they were currently occupied with the production of a third album, in addition to moving into a new studio in Shah Alam.

Their latest single, 'Terima Kasih' (Thank You) was made available in December last year. Fans gave it rave reviews after hearing it on popular radio stations HotFM and EraFM.

The group dedicated the album to those who have helped make Salammusik what it is today.

Kamal said the song 'Terima Kasih' was also meant to revive the culture of gratitude in society.

"It is such a simple phrase, but many still forget to say it. Perhaps it would be easier to remember it when they physically sing it," he said.

'Terima Kasih' is not the only song in the album with a community service message. The song 'Alamak' preaches about respect towards one another.

"Salammusik's objective is to produce folk songs. These are songs that are not just entertaining, but also teaches people about living in harmony," said Kamal. – Bernama


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