non-fiction rock from Aotearoa New Zealand

Posts tagged “Kuala Lumpur

Southeast Asia Tour Diary 8: Farewell KL

We take the last bus ride, from Singapore back to Kuala Lumpur, it is a quiet and sleepy journey that precedes a very long day. So far our plan for the day is that once we return to KL we make our way back to Joe’s place where we’ll have the opportunity to clean up and pack for the flight back to Aotearoa in 16 hours. There no point packing tightly as we still have one more show to play somewhere tonight. At this stage were not too sure how were going to get to wherever we are supposed to be. But there’s plenty of time yet to problem solve. We envisage that we’ll get back to Sentral, after the show, where we’ll catch a bus back to the airport in the early hours, find a corner to sleep for a bit then pack proper for the flight, shifting and ditching weight as per requirements. However, that’s hours away.

We arrive back in KL around two and we cram into a train that will take us to Sentral station. Joe has had contact with Mat Noor, the legendary shop Ricecooker‘s number 1 shitworker, to collect us and transport us to Bukit Ceylon where we gather our stuff. This goes smoothly, though constant in the back of our minds is that this time tomorrow we will be back in transit returning to Aotearoa.

art at MapEverything is collected, double and triple checked to make sure nothing is left behind. Then we leave this place for good, we know that next time we return that it won’t be to this place. There are plans afoot for  a studio spaces across the other side of town. Mat Noor and friend decide there is time for lunch, and so an Indian meal of dosa is devoured before the 30-40 minute drive to venue Map at the Publica complex.

As we pull in to park it’s a little unsettling. The entrance is a large foyer, massive glass doors and stylish modern art all around. And as we move through the building, up levels of modern architecture, we are a little unsure of what we have gotten ourselves in for. Disoriented in the complex, we come to a floor that’s humming with activity, there are stalls of craft works, clothes , zines and many other small items your find at a hip market. This event has been organized by Filmmakers Anonymous, but twenty metres away, on the same level just in a different corner of the building is a major grind core show, looking very slick and well attended. That event has nothing to do with the one we are to play at, it’s just this venue is managing to accommodate both with ease.

mega mosqueInside at Filmmakers Anonymous, there are acoustic performances, poetry, and other interaction (we see no films being screened though…). We find that our performance area is on a stage outside. Leaving the market, we are shown the door to the courtyard, it’s massive! Directly in front of us and too our right are two tower blocks of accommodation we guess, but directly in front at our level is a HUGE court/complex/square/space, there is a stage in the central area covered by a vast glass circular roof. A high stage that has the beautiful appearance of being constructed by many small pieces of timber. State of the art light rig, a bunch of tech people racing around working out how to amplify the sound, the low rumble of the grindcore bands all merge in this ultramodern Malaysian complex.

Shh...diamStanding outside on the ramp looking across towards the centre of KL, we are in awe at the massive mega-mosques to the left and the right, gargantuan complexes that must hold thousands of people.

We are somewhat stunned!

The market and grindcore show finish and bodies come out to mingle in this space. The first band up is the four piece group Shhh….Diem, four women playing humourous and solid punk tunes.

chrissie changing roomNext up was a three-piece playing complex math tunes wandering into bluesy territory. We took off to prepare while they played but we could hear them from where we were getting ready, about 13 floors up in the complex in a super white and shiny bathroom (cheers Nani and Peter). We changed early as we did not want to miss Ciplak, a trio we played with five years ago.

Ciplak flame haloCiplak, the lineup is a moveable feast of guitars, loop, trumpet, drums, wok, angle grinder and onstage antics. They present themselves in what we are told is the traditional muslim school girl uniform, this is somewhat unconventional as the band is all male. Their music feels considered in its improvisation, there is a dialogue toward modern Malay/muslim culture going on in front of us that we know we miss much of the context and detail. It does however manage to offend some audience members – it might have been the appearance, the chaotic music, the rolling around the floor on rubber cows, and then assaulting each other with the afore-mention rubber cows, or the spectacular flame throwing at the end of the set, can’t quite put our finger on it.

mrsA MapKL2Then it’s our tune on stage and there are a few technical issues regarding the sound. But the equipment is nice, and the stage is large, and we play like there’s no tomorrow, and for us there is no tomorrow, in Malaysia, this is our last hurrah. And though we know that the sound is dodgy, the vocals are quite coming through, we still give our best. And coming off the stage what we have done seems to caught people imaginations, conversations ensue, pictures are taken, and it feels like a decent last effort.

Publika from aboveThen we ascend again 13 floors and change for the last time, our costumes now are spectacularly gross after two weeks touring. They have been washed a couple of times, but mostly by hand and swiftly. They have served us very well, we had them made for us especially for this trip, with some specific design requirements in mind such  as lightweight, quick to dry, good ventilation to deal with the heat, and importantly, visually engaging. Successful in every way, it was definitely worth the effort. Enormous!!! thanks to Leigh Malcolm, who was the key architect and seamstress.

We return to ground floor and recommence a few conversations. People are leaving and we need to get to the next part of the plan, getting to the airport. We imagine we will be awake until the flight, hours away. We had planned to get a taxi til Mat Noor says they will help us get to Sentral, but first…food. So what we thought was our last supper hours before was now relegated to the Second last supper. Remember, midnight is dinner time, and we are told this restaurant will be heaving by about 4am.

We weave our way to a different part of Publika and find a restaurant. Once settled in, we remain there till 3, talking about contemporary art in modern Malaysia, and the tension and aggression when modern art meets fundamental Muslim faith. We are told that even acts like ours may be banned in  a few years as, unbeknown to us, our costume looks a lot like the Malay representation of ghosts, from the pre-modern Muslim era(from the 1070’s on), and these animistic traditional representations are no longer acceptable or allowed.

Publika, we are told, is a complex that attempts to merge art, culture, consumer, and living environments all into one structure. And apparently the plan is that this merging of different facets of life will create opportunities for differing communities to meet and be exposed to other perceptions, creating new conversations, and work towards a more open and tolerant future. We are told by Nani, that a concept called Democratic Architecture has informed the development of this space.

There is so much to talk about, but time dissolves and eventually we realise that we must leave our friends here. Mat Noor and company pack us into a couple of cars and we’re off for the last time. A 20 minute drive to Sentral and in perfect sync we a bus is waiting and ready to go. Our farewells are warm and wonderful. We load our cases into the bus for the last time and we go.

thank you

Innumerable THANKS for all the spectacular help, organising, accommodation, assistance with transport, advice on where to stay, where to eat and how to get around, and everything else to the following (in no particular order):

Joe Kidd, I-Lann, Fendi, Mat Noor and mates, Nani, Peter, Dean, Kek, Rubois, Arjuna Studio, Anok Pakcik, Aiye, Hakim, The Pigeonhole, Cher & friends, Dharma, Vivian, Martin, Mark  from Ujikaji Records & the others in Singapore, Piping, Eva, Rizqi, Pepenk, Lestari, Stella and family, Indris, Putra, Edi and family, Simba, and all the other good men and women at Ni Kita Jibril, Menus, Ryllian and friends in Jogja, Doni, Toi, Mayzke, Sawi and friends of Bekasi. John, Lucy and Linda in NZ. And finally, thanks to our girls back home, who are cool enough to let there parents take off on such adventures, cheers.

We met many many more people, and unfortunately we do not remember every name we are told, but we value each and every meeting, and without these contacts and connects our trip would have been not as rich in experience.

We were told that no band has ever toured Southeast Asia three times, perhaps we will be the first. See you then.

Southeast Asia Tour Diary Tour diary 1: Kuala Lumpur – Think like a fish

Leaving Poneke, NZLeaving New Zealand. We arrive in Kuala Lumpur(KL) and register a lovely sense of familiarity on returning to the late evening humid temperature. Zero hassles with passport control, if you had anything to declare, well, you couldn’t. They had just cleaned the floor and there was no way anyone was going to mess it up, so exit the building swiftly please- excellent. All our items arrive in the condition we sent them off in – doubly excellent. Then we find the bus to take us to KL Sentral, an hour bus ride into KL at night. And then we meet up with our friends Joe Kidd & I-Lann, wonderful to see them again, it’s been about five years since we were here last and that time appears insignificant as we settle down to reconnecting.

On the way to the house we stop for a midnight feed of spicy roti chennai , a perfect and delicious feast to start this journey with.

Cobbled view from Joe's window by ChrissieBack to the big house off Jalan Aloor to sleep in the hot enveloping KL night, to the sound of the frogs, bugs and traffic on the main road way below this temporary home.

Friday morning, get reacquainted with hygiene KL style, cold water by the pot load, seems a much more sensible way to manage hygiene here and makes me contemplate the excessive water consumption back home.

Still no word at this point about the Surabaya and Bandung shows, Jogjakarta is confirmed and Bekasi is taking shape. Last minute details seem to be part of the regular local organising practice, makes us a bit nervy as the NZ style is to organise ages in advance.We take a walk for food and our first meal is at an Indian restaurant on classic banana leaf, a modestly messy and enjoyable tactile eating experience.

We take a walk through KL and it develops onto the ‘Bersih‘ walk. Joe takes us to the sites of action and activity from the week before. The massive ‘Bersih’ rally was dealt with by very heavy-handed police activity and, what appeared from the outside, as ludicrous political positioning. Bersih 2.0 was the second rally called for by a coalition of 62 NGO’s and civic groups calling for reform to the electoral process.

Bersih is Malay for ‘clean’ , signifying a desire for a ‘clean’ electoral process as opposed to the current ‘unclean’  and non-transparent process. The current ruling party has been in power since independence in 1957  and effective opposition has been reduced to a mostly powerless position. The transferring of power seems to follow family lines through the current malleable election process.Arrested for wearing yellow

The main identifying symbol of Bersih is a yellow t-shirt. And once the police started arresting people for wearing yellow t-shirts in the weeks leading up to the rally, and threatening to arrest any other use of the colour yellow if assumed that it was representative of Bersih, the global awareness of yellow mascots for Bersih grew exponentially.

The rally was held on a Saturday and there was an estimated 50-60,000 people in attendance. It is believed many more would have attended the peaceful rally, however the threat of arrest possibly kept many more away as the rally was deemed illegal after the local authority refused to grant a permit to the organizers. So with that in mind, it was an impressive turnout to an ‘illegal’ event. The rally started and the police cracked down with excessive force almost immediately, people were detained and arrested while in transit, and it must have been an expensive day for tear gas. 1600+were arrested and apparently all arrestees  were released by evening. One man died during the day.

During the Bersih rally, this hospital was tear gased by police

A Children and Maternity hospital was fired at with tear gas, the government denied this but then a number of senior doctors at the hospital made a public statement stating that the hospital was attacked but the police. Seems this attempt at repressive tactics has revealed some ludicrous and embarrassing scenarios for the government who do not want openness, transparency, and an election process that is difficult to corrupt.

There is a skill to develop rapidly while walking the city, and that is dealing with the traffic. It seems random, chaotic, and hazardous, but somehow it all works, it’s so different from the timid transporting masses back home. We asked a friend how she figures out how to navigate driving through the KL streets. Her advice took some meditation, but in hindsight is an incredibly astute and valuable piece of wisdom, “Think like a fish”, meaning make no sudden rash moves, surprise no one, move calmly and confidently in the knowledge that it is too much hassle for people to crash into you, and therefore mostly likely wont(but don’t abandon common sense here). How often do you see fish bumping into each other when swimming? The pedestrians, cars, buses, scooters all manage to weave together managing to achieve reaching their destination at some point.

mr sterile at Rumah ApiAfter our ‘tour’ we head to the first venue Rumah Api, the House of fire, named after the venue was fire bombed sometime ago in a revenge attack on this DIY space. At this show we also share the stage with Atomgevitter from Scotland and Family Man from Germany. Both these bands have been touring Southeast Asia together for the past couple of weeks. We play our first set for this tour but get cut short after 4 or 5 songs as the police arrive and threaten to close the show.

Whilst the police prowl outside, we perform an impromptu whispered acapella version of Stella. Atomgevitter get to also play a short set and the show is complete. I learn the phrase ‘cut steam’ to describe our set, as on we were just starting to gain steam/momentum but was cut short. This phrase is also use to describe interrupted intimacy, nice description.

This show also holds special significance for many on the audience as a close friend had died just recently after a serious illness, he appears to be well known and liked amongst the KL punk community.

On Saturday we attend a book signing session at a KL gallery for a book introducing art to children. Our friend I-Lann has several works prominently placed in the book.

Seventh HeavenAn interesting glimpse at another slice of KL life and worlds collide as we get to shake the hand of the consultant who spoke out to the media about the tear gas incident at the hospital during Bersih 2.0.

From the book signing, we journey two hours to the show in Tampin at the venue Seventh Heaven.It is a hot humid rehearsing/recording studio and finally we get to let off steam. Very happy with the set we play. We also get to see Family Man play this night, nice to connect  with these lads.

Chrissie in Camo

The local scene seems have a taste for complex math metal with local legends Devilica coming out of retirement for a blindingly intense, exciting one-off set, and the locals go ballistic.After the show we do a spontaneous photo shoot on the street in a fluffy toy story.

We travel back to KL, check the email and are alerted to the fact that the Surabaya show is cancelled, we will find out more tomorrow as we fly to Surabaya in the morning, only hours away.

Time just to set the alarms to wake us in 4 hours – now sleep.

Return of Rojac Sotong: Southeast Asia tour 2011

Southeast Asia poster by Joe KiddIn July 2011 we returned to Southeast Asia for our second tour of the region. This page is the collected archive of that event.


  • 15 Friday Malaysia, KL: venue:@ Rumah Api, Ampang HOW HIGH CAN A PUNK GET part2. 
    with Atomgevitter (Scotland), Family Man (Germany), GeenNaam, Crimescene, SMG, Prisma Fosil!
  • 16 Saturday Malaysia, Tampin: venue: The Seventh Heaven This Is For The Heart Still Beating
    with Atomgevitter (Scotland), Family Man (Germany), Alice (Jakarta), Devilica, Maddthelin, Memorial, Shallows Dance, Hurricane & Channeling Mahatma
  • 17 Sunday Java, Surabaya – Cancelled
  • 18 Monday Java, Blitar
  • 20 Wednesday Java, Yogyakarta: venue: Universitas Sanata Dharma, Gejayan area: Summer Breeze:
  • Tampin Poster21 Thursday Java, Bandung: Cancelled
  • 22 Friday Java, Bekasi: venue: Dromotora studio, bulak kapa.
    with Individual distortion, serigala jahanam, kashmir acid rain, get it today, gudangXgaram and sangkala worship
  • 23 Saturday, Malaysia, KL: venue: MyEvo Clubhouse
  • 24 Sunday Malaysia – Mentakab: venue Arjuna Studio Silent Night Gig
  • 28 Thursday Singapore – venue: The Pigeonhole
  • 29 Friday Singapore – venue: Playfreely experimental music night, improv
  • 30 Saturday Malaysia, KL MapKL, Solaris Dutamas, KL

Tour Diary:

We have documented our experiences of our journey through the region, the incredible people we met, thought we were made to think, and sounds we had the privilege of hearing.

Filmakers anonymous posterSoutheast Asia Tour Diary Tour diary 1: Kuala Lumpur – Think like a fish
Southeast Asia Tour Diary 2: East Java – Punk Rock’s rock setup
Southeast Asia Tour Diary 3: Jogjakarta – Roadside still life
Southeast Asian Tour Diary 4: Bekasi – A chicken sleep at the hairdressers
Southeast Asia Tour Diary 5: A mosquito’s respite between Temerloh and Mentakab
Southeast Asia Tour Diary 6: Fishing for lightening
Southeast Asia Tour Diary 7: Transient in Singapore
Southeast Asia Tour Diary 8: Farewell KL


We have a swag of images posted to this Flicker link

Stella – The Video:

While we were in Blitar the Ni Kita Jibril made this video clip for the song Stella. An extraordinary experience. The young girl that appears in the video is Stella Shine Rhamadani.