Ignoramus: I like your music. It sounds very Indonesian.
Me: You are an idiot. Go away.
Don’t get me wrong. It is not that I have anything against Indonesian music. By and large, I am a fan.
But I need to get it off my chest. Local Malay pop, in essence, is Indonesian. It must have started off this way. Otherwise, we’d be listening to dangdut, keroncong, and joget. Even that, I am not sure if it is really local. But Malay pop probably started from Indonesian pop. The only difference is, Malay pop started with Indon pop and stayed there. This was probably the 70s. It developed a little bit into the 80s when producers decided to have the singer sing the song three keys higher than what the singer can comfortably sing in.
Then you fast forward to 2003. I am Malaysian Chinese. Like most urban Chinese in KL, I speak English. There was also a phase in my life when I thought I was black but that’s another story. I listen to Top 40 radio hits mostly from the US and the UK. But I also love good electronica, dance music, and jazz. I don’t listen much to Indonesian or Chinese music. As a music producer, I am influenced by mostly US producers and songwriters such as Quincy Jones, Pharrell, Desmond Child and many others. I hardly (which really means “never”) watch Astro Ria because it’s way up at channel 4 while I am usually hanging around channels 70, 71 and 72 for Star World, MTV, and Channel [V]. Sometimes I will watch the news too.
You see, Indonesian music has had very little influence on me.
Therefore, I am left to conclude that what Indonesian music is today, is modern pop music in Indonesian. What Malaysian music is today, is old Indonesian pop music in Malay. Why? Because if my music sounds Indonesian, it is only because the Indonesians and I have the same influences. I seriously doubt if the Indonesian producers and writers are listening to Malaysian music for inspiration. And you can tell. There are so many Indonesian tracks that almost borrow and sometimes rip off the music that comes out of the US and the UK. But why it works is because it is in the language of the masses. So it sounds new to the market.
Yet our local singers want to sound Indonesian. That just doesn’t make sense. In essence, they want to copy a copy. Look further people.
So, the next time you see me and want to make a comment about my music, go ahead and tell me that it sounds Indonesian and watch me bitch-slap you. Don’t. Do. It.
Suddenly, I feel so much better and my life can go on again.