Noh Salleh Angin Kencang InterviewInterview: Bracing Through “Angin Kencang” with Noh Salleh

Noh Salleh is a renown musician in Malaysia, whether with his band Hujan, or as a solo artist. This year, he sees a tremendous amount of support from the neighboring country, Indonesia, after his album “Angin Kencang” was re-released here. To reciprocate the warm welcome from the listeners, his management has arranged a tour to several cities across Indonesia. He is more than ready to take you on board and brace “Angin Kencang” together with him. Check out the little interview we did with the 32-year-old musician from Sarawak when he visited Malang as one of his tour stop with opening performances from Sal Priadi and Oddy.

The Display (TDP) : Hello, Noh Salleh, it is your first time here in Malang, how do you feel about that?

Noh Salleh (NS) : Actually, it is my first time everywhere, in Surabaya, Semarang, Yogyakarta. This is my first time coming to these cities in Indonesia. I feel a little bit worried throughout the tour, because I’m still recovering from an illness.

TDP : So you are still recovering but decided to come here anyway for the tour?

NS : This is my first experience for touring while being sick. This (re: tour) is supposed to be like, three weeks ago. I was hospitalized for three days and diagnosed with kidney stone. Then I had removal surgery, and cancelled the tour to Indonesia for a while. Took a rest for one week, the got follow-up check up with the doctor. But before the check-up, I actually had locked the tour dates in Indonesia from 11 to 20 December. After the check-up after the first sickness attacked, the kidney stone was still there, so it (re: tour) had to be pushed back. I felt pity for the guys in Jakarta who have prepared for the tour. So, everything is last minute.

TDP : Why did you choose to visit these cities for your tour here?

NS: The cities were chosen because they are available, since everything is decided in the last minute. Solo was cancelled on last minute, since it was too rushed. I booked the flight a week prior to the tour, so my team in Jakarta are the one responsible for choosing the cities afterward.

TDP: Could you tell us about your music venture here in Indonesia?

NS: Everything is independent, everything is DIY. Noh Salleh’s project as you can see, has no label here and everything is self-funded. Asra and other guys from the Jakarta’s team are friends of mine who help me. I look like those punk kids who go on tour, bringing their own guitars. Hahaha, I just want to enjoy the music.

TDP: Your album “Angin Kencang” was actually released in 2014 in Malaysia. Why did you re-release it here after three years?

NS: After the album “Angin Kencang” was released I’ve never actually released if here officially. After two years, I think it is time for me to focus to Indonesia. Funnily, after it was released in Indonesia, many people back home asked for the album to be released there as well.

Noh Salleh Angin Kencang Interview
Noh Salleh with opening acts on “Angin Kencang” tour in Malang

TDP: What is the difference between the old album in Malaysia and this Indonesia version?

NS: The Malaysian version was repressed in jewelcase box, this one is in paper box. The cover art for Malaysian version got a painting of a girl, this one got a photograph of me. There are also three new songs added in the Indonesia’s version of “Angin Kencang” which are “Renjana”, “Mr Polia” and “Sarawak”. The special thing about those three songs is, I recorded my vocal in Malaysia. So I worked on this album for two years, through Whatsapp only!

TDP: You are also in a band called Hujan, what’s the perks of being a solo artist then?

NS: I was like lazy doing things in this solo project. We’re not really trying too hard to release an album. Since Noh Salleh is my own project, like I want to record a song for myself. One song was done then delivered to Mondo (re: Mondo Gascaro), then Mondo asked “Noh, is there other songs you could send to me?” Then I wrote another song, send it again to Mondo. Until five songs were collected then what we’re gonna do with these songs. It was released eventually. I didn’t really have the intention of going solo, so there it is. In Noh Salleh, everything is done according to my own taste. In Hujan, when we practice other members usually give lots of inputs like changing the chorus part or other parts. I have the right to remove unwanted parts here, the producer is Mondo and Ade (re: Ade Paloh), but if I don’t like this guitar part here or trumpet part there, I could ask them to change it. That’s the best part of being solo act. It’s up to me to decide who can work with me. I can work with people outside of my circle, outside of my own country as well.

TDP: Which one do you prefer, being in a band with Hujan or solo?

NS: Both. Each has its own experience. With solo, your accompanying band is hired, you pay them to play music. But with Hujan, it’s like a family, it’s your bloodline. There’s nothing that can beat the chemistry between band especially if you have been together for many years.

TDP: Do other members of your band also go solo?

NS: After eight years, I told the guys on the band “Let’s do our own way”. The guitarist of Hujan then became producer, he produced for Yuna. Then I decided to take a rest, wrote songs for myself then it turned out to be a single. But after one of two years doing our separate things, we wanted to be on stage together once again. Fans actually pushed the hashtag #Hujan10Tahun on Instagram and demanded us to play a show since it is our 10th year together. Maybe if there is sponsor, we will play anniversary concert.

TDP: Tell us about the three new songs in this album

NS: I composed all three songs, “Sarawak” is written by me as well as “Mr Polia” and “Renjana”. But in “Renjana”, the lyrics were written by Rahne Putri, a poet based in Jakarta and “Mr Polia” lyrics were written by Sigit from Tigapagi. It is exciting to work with people who are the best at their respective fields. I have read a book on why hit songs could last 40 years or so, it turned out that the best people are working their best to produce one song and I hope my work could follow the footsteps of those everlasting songs.

TDP: How did you end up working with Mondo Gascaro and Ade Palloh? When did you know them?

NS:  A long time ago, it was when they came to Kuala Lumpur to promote “Janji Joni”, wait, it was for “Berbagi Suami” movie actually. But then I recognized their song from Janji Joni’s OST when they performed. I am a fan of their work, especially what they did with SORE. The album “Centralismo” was good, but “Ports of Lima” was beyond anything I have ever heard. The album got into my heart and mind slowly, until it reached “Karolina” the song which made me shout “Gila babi!” since it was so good. I think it is hard to produce an album that is better than those previous records. Wait, my answer derived too far from the question but I just like their work there, hahaha.

TDP: You sound like a huge fanboy of them, haha, in this album you also worked with poet Rahne Putri. Is there any other artist that you would like to work with next time? Maybe from different fields like visual art worker or filmmaker?

NS: I have so many ideas for visual artist, but sadly not enough money to make it comes true. But if I had the chance, I would love to work with Adri (@tolekobra_), the trumpet player of Mustache and Beard. That guy works in a media, a new talent, but equipped with skills like seasoned artist. Just like the guy who performed before me, Sal Priadi, I got insecure since he opened my show very well. I would like to shoot music video in Indonesia as well, I think it will match my kind of music perfectly.

Noh Salleh Angin Kencang Interview
Sal Priadi, the opener of Noh Salleh tour in Malang

TDP: After expanding your career here for a while, what do you think about Indonesia and Malaysia’s music industry?

NS: I begin with Malaysia first. Pop singers in Malaysia have reversed to 80’s and 90’s style of songs, a kind of mellow pop-melayu songs. Take example with Aiman Tino, a current sensation in Malaysian mainstream entertainment. In independent scene, there are lots of exciting new bands. Actually I don’t really pay attention to the music industry. Since I began my career with Hujan, I spend 60% of my live on vacation and 40% work. I refuse to keep updated with what’s the trend or what’s on TV since it will disturb my concentration of getting new inspiration. So if you ask me, what’s going on with Malaysian music industry at the moment, I can only show you that. An in-depth look to the industry and the underground scene is out of my reach. In Indonesia it seems like indie artists like Barasuara, Stars and Rabbit, or Danilla have become a staple here.

TDP: Last question, since you have toured in Indonesia for a week or so, is there any particular food you enjoy?

NS: It’s a tough question! Since I got so many restrictions due to my illness, I could not enjoy all the food that I want. But from all the food I have tried so far, I like Bakmi GM. Hahahhahaha.

Reporter: Hanif Ardhika/Editor: Novita Widia