You Are My Land

It has taken me a long time to get back to recording my own material.

I spent the last few years focused on composing for other artists and projects, which has been very exciting. I have been blessed with opportunities to compose for artists whom I respect and admire, artists such as Dato Siti Nurhaliza (Malaysia's no.1 megastar for the past decade), Atilia Haron, Nadeera, and Alif Satar. I've also composed music for director Erma Fatima and various other projects.

Other than that, it has taken me a long time to find the person that would be the right fit for my musical direction, which is fusing traditional instruments and music with modern music. I was also forced to take several years off from my career to recover from an illness, which I’m happy to say is now behind me. 

My days always start out with the scent of burning incense as I walk down the corridor towards the recording studio. This is a ritual that my producer, Jeff Bova, performs every morning, and it's something I have come to appreciate. It reminds me to return to my senses.

When I first entered the studio, I was fascinated by the custom-made arranger’s table I saw on the left side of the room. Jeff told me that he used this table when he travelled for recording sessions back in the day. I thought it was a very smart and innovative invention, as it came fully equipped with drawers, wire loops, a keyboard area, a computer keyboard tray, and even a cupholder!

He also has a cabinet full of sound effect CDs, which he uses for his work in film. I love the use of sound effects and cinematic elements in songs. I tend to have a strong visual image in my mind when composing and performing as I envision every song and project taking shape as a film. 

The first song that we are working on is “You Are My Land.” It's a very personal song to me. I thought a lot about my country, Malaysia, during this time. This song is about courage. To make a change, we must make sacrifices and find the courage to make difficult decisions. Often, it involves taking the unbeaten path.

I used Rachmaninoff's piece, “Moment Musical No. 3,” as the main reference for this song. Its passion, intensity and anguish are the exact emotions I wanted to capture in "You Are My Land." We are also experimenting with both traditional and modern instrumentation, especially the gamelan, my favourite traditional instrument.

One of the more intriguing aspects of our production of "You Are My Land" is that we are creating sounds through words. Jeff explained how we could put a word through a meta synth image filter to create a unique sound.

I love to innovate and always aspire to create sounds that we may not have heard before. The message of unity means a lot to me so we decided to take the word "unity” and run it through this filter.

Jeff said, in a way, it's like we are putting our intention into the project. I definitely agree.