“They say that sometimes it is in your lowest point in life, or your nadir, that you find clarity and strength to rise again from the ashes of what once was, and manifest a greater tomorrow.” – Nadir
This independent band began its journey in 2015 and strives to make music that is rare and unique by combining different life experience and emotions together. They’re known for their explosive crowd-chanting energy on stage and colourful music and languages from various cultures in Malaysia and all around the world. And we’re lucky to get an exclusive from them!
1. So tell us, how did it all begin?
Ash: It all began on a dark, stormy night at a mamak when Rashdan (vocals), Zaim (Bass) and I (Drums) were discussing the trials and tribulations of navigating the local music scene and how we wanted to start playing music that wasn’t limited by genre boundaries and focused styles. Why not right? Thus began the journey of finding the right people that aligned with our musical mind-set. We roped in Stephanie first, being the first choice as keyboardist after having played with her in a different band. We then handpicked each member specifically due to their ability to break boundaries with their ideas and playing. Adil being a jazz-saxophonist and ethnomusicologist, Farique being a metal head but also a well-versed multi-genre producer and Santosh being a Carnatic vocalist & traditional percussionist while at the same time, being a bedroom DJ. Simmy was the most recent addition to the fold, being a multi-instrumentalist tackling synths, tin whistles and a few other instruments. We had a few free and easy jam sessions and really hit it off but it took us about a year of solid practice and studio time to really hone in on our sound as a band and also to build chemistry. All of us in the band come from very different musical backgrounds individually and the most exciting part was getting together and throwing everything we had into the mix and cooking up something fresh.
2. What inspired your album “Synesthesia”?
Farique & Adil : Culture. Our culture as Malaysians and the collective cultures of the world. Embracing our roots and our differences and how they all come together. Throughout our rehearsals and composition sessions, we started seeing this common thread amongst us and the music we wrote, which was akin to a colourful canvas filled with a multitude of cultural influences. You can draw a lot of parallels with Malaysian culture, from our food to our art and our people. Synesthesia is a condition where a person’s senses are mixed up in a way that the stimulation of one sense leads to the sense impression of another. People with synesthesia, or synesthetes, are able to either ‘see’ music or ‘hear’ colours, and more! This is how we perceive music and paint on that musical canvas and in turn, inspire our compositions.
3. What were the main challenges that you faced with the album?
Santosh : Financing the album was one. We funded this album entirely out of our own pockets. Managing expectations and completing it within the deadline we set for ourselves, was another big one. We had a very ambitious idea that we wanted to execute for this album, which we somehow managed to achieve. That’s quite an amazing feat considering the ‘perfectionists’ in all of us that came out during the production process (lol).
4. Which has been your favourite gig so far?
Zaim : Playing to about 5 thousand people over 2 days in Phnom Penh at the Cambodian Water Festival (Bon Om Touk) earlier this month! It was an awesome experience and unforgettable time for all of us as it was also our first international gig together as a band. We even got to give the audience a taste of Santosh’s beaming stage presence, and by stage presence, we mean his big personality (lol). It was quite surreal because none of us in the band speak Khmer and yet there was this connection with the crowd that surpassed language barriers and bridged the gap between our different cultures. We learnt a lot of great things about Cambodia and got to collaborate with a couple of Cambodian artists too, namely Laura Mam!
5. What has been your biggest accomplishment as a band?
Adil : We found out that we actually made history as the first Malaysian band to play live on Cambodian national TV! I think that qualifies as a pretty huge accomplishment in our books! But I think what surpasses that, is the fact that we get to play the kind of music that we play, to a wide range of audiences, in different places, and spread the message of the importance of cultural diversity, preservation and integration; or unity, through our music. Hopefully, we can set an example and inspire everyone and future generations of artists to elevate Malaysian music, culture and arts to a global scale, while constantly upping our game, like what many Malaysians are doing right now such as Yuna, Zee Avi, Rendra Zawawi, Michelle Yeoh, Alena Murang and many many more!
6. What do you think of the local music scene & what can be improved?
Nadir Band: The local scene is so diverse and rich in talent. It’s a huge plethora of styles and genres and groups interspersed amongst each other. I think we have a massive pool of talented musicians and artists that are out there working hard to put Malaysia on the map and also a new generation of kids that are slowly surfacing and independently figuring out the ropes of the local scene. The more education and the more funding that goes towards grassroots development and career viabilities for them, the more the quality of our scene will improve. There has been an uptake in support for the local scene especially with initiatives like Cendana up and running. Next would be to start trying to alter the varying perceptions of the masses towards the quality of the local scene and gaining more support for the independent musicians and artists out there.
7. If you could be on stage with any one band, which band would that be?
Simmy : This is an impossible question (lol) ! I think every single one of us has a different answer for that. Such is the nature of our band and our influences. If we had to narrow it down to one, as impossible as that is, maybe a super-band comprising of the members of Led Zeppelin, Snarky Puppy, Dave Matthews Band and Zainal Abidin. Now that would be quite something huh?
Farique : Metallica !
Zaim : Butterfingers !
Santosh : AR Rahman !
Adil : P Ramlee !
8. Just for fun, what is something the whole band shares other than your love for music?
Steph : Our love for teasing and picking on Santosh, who also happens to be the youngest in the band, and of course, mamak sessions !
9. What are your future plans for the band?
Ash : We are currently in the midst of collaborating with Cambodian artist Laura Mam. We will be releasing a single together with her next year. We also have a short film and music video in the works and other collaborations due to come out. We will be announcing more exciting news along the way so keep in touch with us and stay updated to find out!
10. Any advice you’d like to give future musicians?
Simmy : Stay in school. (lol) Be open minded and be honest about your art. Discipline in honing your craft is as important as having fun while doing it.
Farique : Take in as many interpretations of your art that you can. You can always learn something from new colours and experiences.
Ash : Be patient. Take your time and really get to know your craft and also the business side of the music industry. That goes a long way in helping you in the future.
Nadir Band: Come for our shows!
Yes! Please do. These are their December gigs:
12th December – Arts on the Move acoustic show at Masjid Jamek LRT
22nd December – Christmas Show at The Bee Publika