This Malaysian quartet’s eccentric and unpredictable sequences keep you on your musical toes, even after you’ve played them on loop enough to memorise every beat. You find yourself gawping at their brilliance while you’re helplessly grooving along (all from personal experiences). These guys have a whole lotta attitude, but not without sheer intellect.

Dirgahayu's music can’t keep still, and you can’t keep still listening to it. Those who caught them at Lithe Paralogue Studio thanks to DUNCE would also have etched in their memories that Dirgahayu is truly a massive beast live.
- Bandwagon Asia

... Dirgahayu’s set was a cluster of chaos just waiting to explode. For one, these math-rockers played really, really loud, and LPS space wasn’t exactly the rolling fields of Glastonbury. It even made us wish we had brought earplugs, and we have ears of steel we tell you! Switching rhythms and time signatures at blistering speeds, the KL quartet combined math- and noise-rock with muddy bass licks, harmonised guitar-fingertaps and cymbals that were smashed as hard as an enemy most hated. We must say we were also astounded how there were no casualties as they pounced around the tiny stage area like deranged madmen, and even when they balanced guitars precariously on speakers and lay lifelessly on the floor (we thought they had passed out; they were tweaking pedals).
JUICE Singapore

If you haven’t heard of Dirgahayu, then you should really do something about it. The math rock four-piece recently toured relentlessly around the region (playing as far as Japan) and was even lauded by the press down south (specifically our brothers at JUICE Singapore). In addition to consistently performing great shows, the band has also released their beautifully made limited edition debut album Commemorate!, which was crafted from the same fabric that of the army wear worn by Japanese soldiers, in keeping with the theme of the album. Yesterday evening, the band premiered the second video off the record for two of their tracks, ‘Dengan Ingatan Tulus Ikhlas’ and title track ‘Commemorate!’. Filmed and edited by Khairul Johari, the video is a composite of footage shot during their two-week tour of Japan. Again, as anything presented by the band, it’s an excellent piece of videography. We see tiny segments of Japanese life as scored by the languid ’Dengan Ingatan Tulus Ikhlas’ and it is then followed by scenes from the band performing at various venues for ’Commemorate!’.
JUICE Malaysia

Perhaps this is a show of subtle subversion of the social system, perhaps not. On stage, they’re a formidable bunch: experimental, rhythmically complex and channeling a math rock musicianship of atypical time signatures, speeds and jarring, chaotic chords. Everything goes – but with purpose, and with a creative cohesiveness which comes through on ‘Commemorate!’, their debut album. Long live Dirgahayu, for here is a culturally-conscious, historically-informed band with more than just a musical message.
Time Out KL




#43 • October 23, 2015 - I Love You Orchestra: Malaysia Tour
Venue: Soundmaker, Penang
Admission: TBA
Time: 7pm

#44 • November 5, 2015 - DRGHY x Nothingness (Osaka) Split / Tour
Venue: Soundmaker, Penang.
Admission: TBA

Time: 8pm

#45 • November 6, 2015 - DRGHY x Nothingness (Osaka) Split / Tour
Venue: The Roof, Kota Bharu, Kelantan.
Admission: TBA
Time: TBA

#46 • November 7, 2015 - DRGHY x Nothingness (Osaka) Split / Tour
Venue: TBA, Kuala Lumpur.
Admission: TBA
Time: TBA

#47 • November 8, 2015 - DRGHY x Nothingness (Osaka) Split / Tour
Venue: Darksky Lounge, Kuantan, Pahang.
Admission: TBA


#48 • December 19, 2015 - My Disco: Asia Tour
Venue: TBA
Admission: TBA





#42 • August 30, 2015 - Friends from Japan: DAM & Paranoid Void Malaysia Tour
Studiohive, Kuala Lumpur.

#41 • August 29, 2015 - Singapore Night Festival 2015: Tribal Gathering of Jaw Benders
The Substation @ Armenian Street, Singapore.

#40 • August 8, 2015 - The Wknd Sessions Live #2
Slate @ The Row, Kuala Lumpur.

#39 • June 14, 2015 - C! Album Tour 2015
The Key, Cheng, Malacca.

#38 • June 13, 2015 - ænima Phase_01
PJ Live Arts, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

#37 • June 7, 2015 - C! Album Tour 2015
K Space, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

#36 • June 6, 2015 - C! Album Tour 2015
Karamunsing Room, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

#35 • June 3, 2015 - Tricot "Hip Step 'A N D' Jump" Asia Trip
The Bee, Publika, Kuala Lumpur.

#34 • May 30, 2015 - C! Album Tour 2015
HabitArt Cafe, Alor Setar, Kedah.

#33 • May 28, 2015 - The Rock Show
Laundry Bar, The Curve, Mutiara Damansara, Selangor.

#32 • May 23, 2015 - C! Album Tour 2015
The Roof, Kota Bharu, Kelantan.

#31 • May 16, 2015 - C! Album Tour 2015
Insider Satellite Space, Ipoh, Perak.

#30 • May 10, 2015 - C! Album Showcase (Day 2)
No Black Tie, Kuala Lumpur.

#29 • May 9, 2015 - C! Album Showcase (Day 1)
No Black Tie, Kuala Lumpur.

#28 • March 29, 2015 - Rantai Art Festival 2015
Lanai MaTiC, Kuala Lumpur.

#27 • March 14, 2015 - Commemorate! Japan Tour 2015
下北沢 Club 251, Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, Japan.

#26 • March 12, 2015 - Commemorate! Japan Tour 2015
Club Phase, Takadanobaba, Tokyo, Japan.

#25 • March 11, 2015 - Commemorate! Japan Tour 2015
GATTACA, Kyoto, Japan.

#24 • March 10, 2015 - Commemorate! Japan Tour 2015
Blueport, Kobe, Japan.

#23 • March 9, 2015 - Commemorate! Japan Tour 2015
WWP Sinkagura, Osaka, Japan.

#22 • March 8, 2015 - Commemorate! Japan Tour 2015
CLOVER, Nagoya, Japan.

#21 • March 7, 2015 - Commemorate! Japan Tour 2015
club Lizard, Yokohama, Japan.

#20 • February 28, 2015 - Dirgahayu: Live in Singapore
MOIM / Lithe Paralogue, Aliwal St, Singapore.

#19 • February 7, 2015 - Catch These Men • Kyoto Protocol's Album Tour
Art Printing Works Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

#18 • January 24, 2015 - A Phantasm; Antithetical - RTZ's Album Release Showcase
Black Box DPAC, Damansara Perdana, Selangor.


#17 • December 13, 2014 - Rock the World 14
Bukit Jalil Stadium Car Park A, Kuala Lumpur.

#16 • December 6, 2014 - Urbanscapes 2014
Horse Ranch, Resorts World Genting, Pahang.

#15 • August 31, 2014 - Commemorate!
No Black Tie, Kuala Lumpur.

#14 • August 24, 2014 - StudioLive Party
Studiohive, Kuala Lumpur.

#13 • May 10, 2014 - Cross Border Showcase
Black Box MAP, Publika, Kuala Lumpur.

#12 • May 9, 2014 - Cross Border Showcase
The Hin Bus Depot, Penang.

#11 • April 12, 2014 - Art of Noise 4
CT Plaza, Johor Bahru, Johor.

#10 • March 22, 2014 - #mindrubdown 02 @ Projek Rabak
Black Box MAP, Publika, Kuala Lumpur.

#09 • March 1, 2014 - ASIWYFA Asia Tour
Black Box MAP, Publika, Kuala Lumpur.

#08 • January 11, 2014 - Kounsel Tetangga #1
Five Arts Centre, TTDI, Kuala Lumpur.

#07 • January 4, 2014 - Rukunegara Tour '13/14
AZAM Youth Central, Kuching, Sarawak.


#06 • December 28, 2013 - Rukunegara Tour '13/14
Embrace Hall, Johor Bahru, Johor.

#05 • December 22, 2013 - Rukunegara Tour '13/14
Shalien Studio, Kuantan, Pahang. 

#04 • December 15, 2013 - Rukunegara Tour '13/14
Rainhouse Music, Ipoh, Perak.

#03 • December 14, 2013 - Rukunegara Tour '13/14
Soundmaker Studio, Penang.

#02 • December 8, 2013 - Rukunegara Tour '13/14
Melaka River Pirate Park, Malacca.

#01 • December 7, 2013 - Rukunegara Tour '13/14
Independent Archive and Resource Centre, Singapore.





JUICE (August 2015)

Text Jarrod Sio Jyh Lih

When members of Akta Angkasa and Custom Daisy got together to record a four-minute video, the skies parted and a beast of hitherto unknown origin climbed out of its heathen lair, reared its sulphur-dusted head, and Malaysia as we know it is transubstantiated. Okay, it didn’t quite happen that way. But, judging from Dirgahayu’s loud, nuanced, and sonically trenchant album, it could well have.

Dirgahayu’s genius lies in the way they sonic-pile each song with abandon, architecting one layer of complexity at a time; and right at the event horizon of pretension, pulls the reins back with punk restraint and with much gnashing of teeth. Take the titular track ‘Commemorate!’ for instance. The double tapping segues into a conflagration of hammer-ons and pull-offs before launching into a lacerating Townshend-like guitar riff. Following this is a rapid-fire snare attack by Seikan Sawaki, whose drumming – shifting and stopping in medias res with mischievous intent – is capacious enough in ambition to hold all these ideas in check. More importantly, Sawaki’s drumming creates this swirl of space for Wan Azry, Afifi Rahim, and Zulhezan to play off each other – reverbed guitars, synth jabs, and galloping bass in tow. All these make for a sense of urgency that ratchets the track up to a foaming zenith, and yet, to their everlasting credit and testimony to their individual virtuosity, the cup never quite runneth over.

Some of the songs smoulder – with the effects-driven interludes sounding dilatory – yet still a world away from devolving into a sluggish morass. This model of contrapuntal moodiness is preserved by an undercurrent of echo-pedalling and ambient synth-ing within the soundscape. Even during relatively introspective moments, the songs crash into one another like waves balling into fists, pummelling the shore in increasingly ominous strength. ‘Kyu / Ju Roku’ has the unenviable position of opening the album and true to form, sets about establishing the tone of Commemorate!. The track alludes to the time signature of the track, which means ‘9/16’ in Japanese. Given drummer Seikan Sawaki’s half-Japanese stock, this tribute to his heritage is a sweet gesture. That aside, Tycho-like guitar noodling writhes in luminescence against a background of antediluvian clangour, organic pandemonium, and a delightfully brief if stuttering riff that recalls, among others, Mars Volta’s discursive moments.

‘Bahawasa-nya’ (the song performed in the video referenced earlier) neatly encapsulates the disciplined vigour and leviathan power that belie the paucity of its membership. Utilitarian and divested of sonic fat, the song rushes out of the gates foaming – inveighing against an illusory, bloated nemesis. The central psychological insight here can be seen in their affinity for faux-‘50s Malay lingo (exemplified by their name and song titles). This suggestion of a bygone, tamer age not only excites interest, but stands in stark juxtaposition against the power exerted by tracks such as opener ‘Kyu / Ju Roku’, title track ‘Commemorate!’, the aforementioned ‘Bahawasa-nya’, and ‘Volumetric’. Dirgahayu’s “anarchism” is more than a mere subversion of an idealised time of innocence though. Rather, it explores the notion that all of the methodologies used in the science of their craft are limited in scope. And make no mistake, the songs on the album are monuments to Dirgahayu’s exacting, almost scientific attention to detail. What can two guitars, a synth, a bass guitar, and drums do? The answer is; a whole lot.

‘Volumetric’ bookends the album, and is the standout track. This song further showcases their virtuosity-to-a-fault worldview, with an actual guitar solo added to the mix. Muted strings, duelling guitars, and sustains linger in mid-air, awaiting collection as the drums drive the whole shebang off the proverbial cliff in a distorted, quick-picking denouement – not for them the logy strains of prog. In spite of this, the melodic ideas are never lost in the fray.

Dirgahayu’s quiet-before-the-storm junctures expose them as probable votary of that totem band for reflective sonicry; Toe. The signposts are there: The winking acoustic guitar lines, the hushed soundscape, and the expansive silvery notes. It is here that the mood turns somewhat sans souci, as if the lads were taking a break from all the machismo to mull over Monet’s water lilies.

Within the span of six songs, the lads of Dirgahayu have made a convincing report of the instrument-driven, no-vocals template and dismantled its initial fustian assumptions.  Commemorate! (the album) is not only a tour de force, it is a bedlam, and what a gorgeous one, at that. Suffice it to say, if there were no math rock scene in Malaysia, Commemorate! has certainly made a cogent argument for one.



What is Dirgahayu? And I’m not asking what the word means, because the best I was able to come up with, is that it’s an Indonesian word whose English analogue is closest to “longevity,” likely in reference to the patriotic Malaysian song ‘Dirgahayu Tanahairku’. No, what I mean is, what are these guys?

They seem like they can be all things. For me, they’re something like a retrospective of all the stuff I’ve been into since I started listening to rock and roll in the sixth grade. In no particular order: ambient post-rock space noises, bluesy psychedelic guitar solos à la Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin, that brief period I enjoyed mid-2000’s MTV-wave emo, mathy pedal-junkie-esque guitar fuckery, Russian CirclesThe Mars Volta-style insanity, that one year everyone thought Wolfmother was awesome, etc.

The best part is that it never feels disjointed. It all fits together in a weirdly satisfying way, and maybe it’s just because every two minutes I was being surprised by something else from the depths of my musical history being tossed back at me, sounding just as cool as I remember it being on the bus home from school. Only, the things I used to like were not all that cool in reality, but Commemorate! makes them seem that way. There’s even a secret track at the end of the closing song ‘Volumetric’. No one does that anymore and Dirgahayu made me remember how much I missed it.

There’s actually a fun game you can play with this album, too. Don’t watch the tracklist while you listen to it and try to mark down where you think the tracks are cut. Add a point when you’re right and subtract one when you’re wrong. My final score was somewhere in the negatives. Tracks stop dead-silent midway, only to start again with a new idea and others flow seamlessly into one another. If anything, it’s trying to say that this is not a song-by-song experience, that songs are linked by theme, not chord structure.

Or maybe they’re just messing with us.

By Christopher Walker
July 7, 2015. 10:50 am



By the end of Dirgahayu's DUNCE-organised gig at Lithe Paralogue, guitars were perched precariously atop amps,
and bodies were strewn lifelessly on the floor - shades of some topsy-turvy crime scene; death by instrumental math-rock.
But upon scraping themselves off the ground and catching their breath, these Malaysian radicals jokingly had
a candid conversation with us about going to Japan, old rifles and murtabak.

JUICE Singapore • May 2015. Text by Kevin Ho.


Not one to be privy to a heart attack or hyperventilation incident, we made sure the Dirgahayu dudes were in pink of health before chatting with us, considering their chaotic routines of stage-leaping and floor-crawling. "We're actually pretty careful whenever we jump; believe it or not, they're planned steps!" they simultaneously reassured us while chuckling goofily. "We've had thrown guitars in the past, but we generally don't... 'cos they're so expensive [laughs]. This pretty much set the tone of our interview - an unpretentious quartet of guys sharing the same amount of readiness and enthusiasmm, all in this together for the long haul. "We believe in democracy," they say while trying to keep straight faces, "Everyone has their own voices; everyone leads each other. Even our name, Dirgahayu, directly translates to 'Long live' in Malay. It means that we want to play as long as we can, and be bandmates forever".

"We plan to play loud", they reiterate, despite fans in the audience wincing at how deafening their live performance was. "We've tried toning it down in the past, but we don't think it reaches the emotion we wanna achieve," they continue. As ear-splitting as they were, perceptive listeners could catch the plethora of detail they were channelling beneath the cacophony - finger-tapped arpeggios, bass-led melodies and fickle time signatures that pandered to the ethos of math-rock. "But to be honest, we're not even sure if KL has a math-rock scene!" they confess. Prior to Dirgahayu's formation, its members were building the Malaysian scene in bands like Akta Angkasa and Custom Daisy, plugging experimental rock and mathcore respectively for over 10 years. Turns out, some had even swung by here to play shows in the past, which is why they even knew about Zam Zam's glorious murtabak. "Yeah man! We don't have that kinda murtabak in Malaysia; Zam zam is very generous with their mutton," they reminisce on their pre-gig snack, "For murtabak mutton, Singapore wins. But for other food, we win lah!".


A pit-stop preluding their plans for world domination, Singapore was actually a warm-up for their intensive, two-week tour in Japan, where they were flying off to just two days later. "We're going to Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe; seven shows altogether. And it's our first time travelling outside Southeast Asia as a band," briefs drummer, Seikan Sawaki. His name being a blatant giveaway, the half-Japanese percussionist was appropriately appointed as the band's tour manager, ridding the inconvenience of venue bookings and language barriers. "We're quite lucky to have him!" the rest chime in, "We even wrote a 'welcome song' for him called 'Kyu / Ju Roku', which means '9/16' in Japanese; the time signature of the song". Count and listen; they're right!

Beside being a lifetime opportunity to broaden their fanbase, Dirgahayu's Japan tour also signified the launch of their debut album titled Commemorate! - a title we were curious about. "Aiyo, can we tell you the truth about its meaning?" they pause for effect, "We just couldn't find a name! [synchronised a laughter]". After composing themselves, they eventually came up with a more serious reply. "Actually, the title commemorates all the efforts that previous generations of musicians have fought for. We also happen to love digging through history," they reveal. Carrying on, they also explained that their incendiary single, "Istinggar", was a reference to a matchlock rifle with roots in Portugal, in line with the track's tension-and-release nature. "Well, the title just suits the song's mood," they conclude, "And we can't make our moods softer."

Interviewed by Izyan Liyana • May 5, 2014

1) It is believed that Dirgahayu is a band derived from former members of Akta Angkasa and Custom Daisy. How did Dirgahayu start as a band and what inspired you to make music together? Musical backgrounds etc.,

Yie: Yes we were. On the other hand, Efy was from Susur Masa and a recent addition to the band, Seikan was from Silent Scenery. We used to do something that we really love which is creating music and having good time on stage. We ceased somewhere but after awhile, we realised that we missed it and always feels like to have something more to offer.

Zul: We got the three of us together in July 2013 (well that was only 9 months ago), rehearsed for the first time and never looked back. I’ve personally been knowing Yie and Efy for many years, so the chemistry between us is effortless. By exhanging riffs and ideas to push the envelope a bit, Dirgahayu was in shape and we’re just keep going ever since.

2) The instrumentation for ‘Bahawasa-nya’ was mind-blowingly intense, and high-energy. What bands or artists have primarily influenced your sound and the direction you’ve taken for this single? Who do you take inspiration from?

: Ironically, I have always going back to basics and relied on (some of) the solid emotionally-charged punk rock classics, says Shellac and Fugazi – how these guys influenced us to endeavour new things and do it differently in writing music, composing sounds and live performing. Even though newer modern bands did a good job redefining math / noise rock in all possible way, we always felt there’s peculiar sonic signatures and distinctive quality behind this earlier sound work. Well, you just need to get a little creative, diligent, fosters mutual understanding between respectable members and you could go a long way.


3) Dirgahayu has caught a lot of attention since ‘Bahawasa-nya’ was released last year. The track has been aired on a local radio, BFM, and you guys managed to play on a nationwide tour to promote the single. How would you best describe how much the band has grown musically and do you see that growth mainly coming from touring, recording or something else that helped you evolve?

: We’re still in the early stage of evolving as a band and still finding our feet in terms of musical direction. We never play the same exact live set as far as we can remember. Other than Bahawasa-nya, the rest of the songs are pretty much ‘work in progress’ as we add up bit by bit, here and there before every each show. And as now we have Seikan on drums and Zul switched to guitar/synth role, we were surprised how much the dynamic of the band have changed, electrified with the potential and endless possibilities we could explore with more instrumentation in the house. I’m eager to see the final outcome of our EP release soon (to be expected later this year).

4) We were taken by your lovely instrumental ‘Bahawasa-nya’ not forgetting its accompanying video that gives visual shape to the transient moods in the song under the record label, Senipekik. The synergy was indeed outstanding! How did you become involved with the directors, Carlos Nizam and Khairul Johari?

: First knowing Carlos and KJ (Khairul Johari) when we met up at my now-defunct studio a few years back. These guys were incredibly talented, I remembered some of their creative works that blew my mind. When Dirgahayu started out about a week or two, we literally had this piece of mind, “How about we do something that haven’t been done before, and let’s put it over a music video or so?”. Thus I got Carlos over the phone, talked about the idea, KJ instantly joined in and things just fell into place like skee ball’s perfect shots. Everything was DIY, critically from day one to the final rendering. It was a great team effort, we simply can’t thank enough.


5) Can you tell us what have your experiences been like previously touring nationwide and what states most stood out to you in terms of fostering a good musical environment, and why?

: The tour was a great introduction and musical exposure for us, especially in our case, as a new band. Local bands should do their own tour like a lot, it’s really helpful to promote your music elsewhere, apart from own hometown. Touring showed us different perspectives to appreciate life and do better both as a person and a band. The truth is, when our last tour was over, we can’t stop thinking when the next one would be.

Yie: It depends on how you define ‘good musical environment’. We had different experiences in each states we went to, in terms of the audience, venue and of course how well we performed that day. To choose one, I’d possibly pick on our second stop of the tour. It was held at River Pirate Park where we performed on the banks of Sungai Melaka impeccably under a bright moon and stars. Astonishing view, nice chilly weather and good vibes – perfect combo. However we played a very short set that evening; something we’ll surely make up for, one day. There are hundreds of ways you can always discover from band travelling e.g. meeting new friends, performing to a new crowd, checking out other cool bands, scoring good (authentic) food, show organiser went MIA, etc. The list seems endless.


The Whole Package

If you’re observant enough, you can find different pieces on Dirgahayu written in previous issues of JUICE dating as far back as late last year. So you can trust that we’ve been following this local instrumental math rock four-piece since the day we saw them play. We were well taken aback by their prowess and musicianship, as well as their manic compositions that sound as heady as they are hard to write about. Having been in different bands beforehand though, they understood the value of appearance. The guys of Dirgahayu have always strived to form a well-rounded entity that embraces not only sound and performance, but also the value of attractive presentation, be it their music videos, the medium in which they release their oeuvre, and more. Dirgahayu is certainly the whole package. To commemorate (apologies) their meteoric rise that had them touring the Land of the Rising Sun and the release of Commemorate!, JUICE spoke to drummer Seikan Sawaki and guitarist Zulhezan about the concept of their debut album, Malayan history, and quality control.

JUICE Malaysia • August 2015

Do you guys synchronise your power moves on stage? From where we stand in the audience, we’re pretty sure you guys eye each other before you whip your respective instruments. In a piece from JUICE Singapore, the band was quoted saying “... believe it or not, they’re planned steps.”

Zulhezan From previous experience, maybe some of us, if we don’t plan the steps, we’d always screw up... Stuff would fall down, accidentally pulling out the jack, whatever. We always overlook the stage area, whenever you wanna jump, you never touch the other guy, you never touch the stuff, it would ruin the set.
Seikan Especially when the stage is small.
Z So, that’s the plan lah. It’s not like, “Okay, for the chorus, we jump!” No, not like that.
S It’s more a safety precaution.
Z I always switch off the main power, so there’s no sound and then I have to switch on, I have to set up everything while the songs are playing, so that’s when I have to be careful. Even when we wanna be chaotic, as long as it doesn’t kacau the essential parts of the set. When I was in Akta Angkasa, it was crazy. I always jumped or whatever, threw the amps (laughs), that was history but with this band, I wanna make it proper.

Each of you guys came from different bands before there was Dirgahayu. When this band was formed, did you guys want dirgahayu to have such a strong concept?

Maybe like a full package? Like visually, whatever that comes with the full package of the band – from songwriting to how we perform the song to how people perceive the sets to the cover of the album, the website, all the visuals we try to portray, it’s all there, it’s not just about the music. Maybe it’s because I’m a graphic artist, so I feel it’s really important to have both visual and audio sequenced. Of course, when you start a band, you wanna make music and they never really think what will happen next in the future. “We have three songs now, so what are we gonna do now? We’re gonna write more songs or shall we do an EP?”, “When we perform, do we need visuals?”, or whatever that will suit the concept of the whole band. What we’re trying to do now is to give 100% of what we can give and try to achieve as much as possible. So, the audience can feel from the live performance till the music videos, anything that connects to the band.

We don’t know if this was meant to be a joke or not, but you guys wrote ‘Kyu / Ju Roku 九 / 十六’ as a way of welcoming Seikan into the band; we’ve read in a few other interviews that you guys seemed to be really grateful for his presence. Is this a correct assumption? Why is that?

S Like how grateful? You should be damn grateful, bro!
Z When we were looking for a drummer, a friend suggested we go to Seikan’s studio and just jam with him. It wasn’t really an audition. When we tried it out, [Seikan] got it on the first riff. He played very spontaneously, we were so surprised! The previous guy we tried was...
S He had a hard time counting every beat.
Z It was not that hard (laughs), it was just a simple one. S But if [he] can get the catch of it, then can already.
Z [Seikan] caught it and we were so surprised, so we asked him to play in this band lah. When you were confirmed, it was April [2014]?
S You know why [I joined the band] actually? I asked Afi during the tricot show... I was like, “Sh!t man! I really wanna play in a band again.” So [when] these guys asked me to join, I was like, “Okay, (smiles).” Before that, I really didn’t give a f*ck, [Zul] sent me a damn long text, like karangan like that, and he gave me a YouTube link to ‘Bahawasa-nya”. I didn’t even bother to watch.


Where did you guys get the Japanese sample from?

It’s actually a broadcast from when the Japanese invaded Malaya.

It must have been complicated for you because you were feeling this guilt but on the other hand, you were happy they wrote this welcoming song for you right?

Yeah. It’s very mixed up. I felt like I couldn’t be in the band...
Z (Laughs) No lah.
S I was just like, “Wow, you guys named the song
in Japanese.” That’s it. It’s not only until we had an interview at BFM, then only he said, “This song is a welcome song for Seikan.” I was like, “Har?!”
Z The [original] title of the song was ‘9/16’, a normal one. So when he came, I talked to the rest of the band, I said, “Let’s name it for him [since] he’s joining the band.” So we just titled it in Japanese.
S And then they asked me to find a sample. I found so many related videos and then I found it.
Z When he came to me, like, “Does this relate to the Malaya history?” I was like, “Whoa! This is gold!”. I don’t think Malaysia even has this [broadcast] in its archive, because this report totally went to the Japanese.
S I tried very hard to find any history between Japan and Malaysia.
Z If you read the history textbooks from Form 4 [or so], I can say it’s vague lah, it’s totally not detailed. When the Japanese came, we know it’s on 8 December 1942. So we found this very concrete evidence like what time they actually invaded, which you can’t find in the textbook. We have the date, maybe because the older people had the report. Yeah, so [the Japanese] were very efficient, that’s how they planned the war, right? The people here are so ignorant, we don’t know anything. Nobody really know anything about the war, it’s a very short war, ’42 to ’45.

Do you guys think people didn’t pay much attention to the Japanese occupation?

They mostly focused on the British side, not so much on the Japanese side. When the Japanese came, they halau the British too, right? They were very strong, but because of what happened when America bombed Hiroshima, they retreated. So those three years [when the Japanese] were here, it really changed how local people saw Japanese people and their technology, everything reflects on who we are now. Yeah, when you look at the British, there were the good and the bad, but none more controversial and exciting as how the Japanese were ruling the country. It was crazy lah. It was the most intense three years as compared to the 80 years or so when the British ruled.

From the music videos, hand-sprayed cassettes, and printed sleeves to the limited edition debut album that’s made with Japanese army wear fabric. Why do you guys put so effort in presenting such a nice—as Zul said—package or product as a band?

To me, how do you want people to care about you, when you don’t even care about your sh!t?
Z Maybe the local bands, they care too much about the music until they’re neglecting [this part] which you must also focus on, like the visuals, design, the packaging, the concept of the album. You must be a part of the team who’s doing it lah. Like [the design team] would listen the music and interpret it, and the band would be like, “Oh, that’s cool.” They don’t really care how the end product will look like on the market. They never really take part in that.


What do you think about people who are like, “you’re musicians, you should focus on the music, and not about all this.”

Unfortunately, we’re not that kind of musicians. We really care about the A to Z. You can say [we’re] fussy, but when people buy our album, our releases, they’d feel more than satisfied... always expecting what we’ll do next. When we did the ‘Bahawasa- nya’ video, people are expecting another video, like, “Would it be any better?” or “What kind of direction we’re going to do it?” I won’t say it’s stressful but it’s really motivating.
S Yeah, whatever we do, we enjoy the process.
Z When people see it in the future; it’ll have a sentimental value. We want people to keep it forever, like wanna pinjam also cannot (laughs).
S Like the CDs in my car, it’s everywhere. I don’t want people to treat our CDs like that.

Zul, we hope Akta Angkasa is not a touchy subject for you, but if you put Dirgahayu and Akta Angkasa side by side, they both have the same nationalist visual identity. So when Akta Angkasa disbanded, was Dirgahayu a continuation of that? Hence its meaning ‘long live’?

It’s not a continuation at all! I just wanted a new band with a new idea. I was being myself then and I am the same person in Dirgahayu now, so maybe that’s why people can relate the visuals [between the two] or how I conduct the Malay language – the Malay provocation, I guess. That part maybe has a continuation, I didn’t purposely wanna do that. It’s my personal stuff, like music is art right? Music is part of the art that I’m doing. I’m just sharing my part, if they are cool with it, then it’s cool with me. In Akta, I did everything—not the sound—but the visual part, even in this band, I’m doing most of the visuals, that’s why there’s a connection. It’s not a continuation, it’s just Zul. Even in Akta Angkasa, I played with history, but more on the controversial stuff in an indirect way. Now, we’re doing in a direct way, like this is about the Japanese occupation. Before with Akta, if we talked about Independence Day, I would twist it to have a different expression.

Commemorate! is out now via Soundscape Records.


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"They dance into your mind at the oddest moments and tease you into nostalgia." - Sri Delima, Dec 1972