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Thursday, September 11, 2008

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He has created some of the finest entertainers in the country and has rapped those in the business without fear or favour. Music guru Roslan Aziz speaks to RADIN SRI GHAZALI about the current state of affairs in the industry and his band, aLi.

HE drives a Kancil and dresses in faded T-shirts and
baggy jeans.

He is music guru Roslan Aziz, hailed by many as the maker of music icons, including Sheila Majid, Zainal Abidin, Amir Yussuf, Prema Lucas and Afdlin Shauki.

“I am a simple man. I do not splurge on unnecessary things such as fancy cars. I do not even have credit cards,” said the 47-year-old composer with a laugh.

Where does the money go? “Here,” he said pointing out his studio, situated near Bangsar.
“I spent most of my time and all of my earnings on RAP (Roslan Aziz Productions). I invested a lot on the studio’s development and on taking care of the artistes who are signed under us,” he said.

Established in 1988, RAP has made a mark in the Malaysian music industry by producing timeless albums including Ratu, Gamal, Ikhlas and Hijau.

“I believe in grooming the artistes to achieve the best. When there is potential, I will take them and develop them. It is not an easy thing to do. You have to spend thousands of ringgit on them for training, album productions and more,” he said.

“Now, most people are too caught up in popularising their artistes rather than grooming them to be better entertainers,” he said.

As a composer and music producer, Roslan is no stranger to awards for his outstanding contribution to the music industry.

He won the Best Album award for Gamal at AIM in 1995, Best Album for Ratu at AIM (1996), Best Album for Emosi at BASF Awards, Indonesia in 1987, and Most Promising Producer at the Music Producers Awards in the United States in 2002.

When asked the five most listened-to albums, Roslan immediately said: “Hijau, Ratu, Ali, Gamal and M. Nasir’s Solo. Obviously most of the albums were made by me.”

After 25 years of being behind the scenes, Roslan finally is taking the limelight as one-half of the band, aLi.

“I am doing it for self satisfaction and of course, nak cari makan,” he said referring to the musical partnership with fellow rap artiste, Mukhlis Nor.

“aLi is different. aLi represents our interpretation of what music is about. It has its own appeal to the masses,” he explained.

aLi-The Album consists of Nonterro, Benar, Bebas, Mata Hari and Merong, written and composed by the duo.

The album was launched digitally on Aug 8 after being postponed for three months.

“We want to see the response on our digital sales before releasing it in the physical format. It is a great way to introduce the album to the people,” he said, adding that the digital release is in support of Universal Music’s website for digital downloading called Music Myne. The website will be officially launched at the end of the year.

“Even if there are only 200 people buying it, I would still be happy. It shows that there are people out there who listen to us,” he said.

However, the mainstream radio stations have not been giving the much-needed support to aLi.

“We have distributed the album to several radio stations including the big ones. They have yet to play our songs,” he said.

As for the future, both Roslan and Mukhlis have big plans for the band.

“I want to bring back the good old days of RAP where we travelled around the globe. I want to bring aLi to that level of success and we are ready for a tour.” Roslan plans to hold aLi’s album launch in Singapore later this year.

“The launch is a gift for our fans there,” he said.

Roslan also expressed his dismay at the current scenario of the local entertainment scene.

“We need to be more musically literate. Singers and artistes should pursue higher education. Most of the younger generation of artistes are too ignorant and they will have trouble sustaining themselves in the industry,” he said.

Roslan also hopes that the media will give the right coverage to the deserving artistes.

“There are a lot of singers and artistes who are doing more than the mainstream. Look at Laguna Records, Butterfingers, Love Me Butch and Sasi The Don who have braved their way through the industry with their hard work,” he stressed.

“We have a lot of talents here, but there is not much coverage on them. It is time to change that mentality,” he said.

“Only then, readers and fans will be able to see the real musicians and singers who are producing the goods,” he said.

A curious mind would wonder what inspires a music genius like Roslan to create countless hits including Lagenda, Gemilang, Wanita, Sinaran and more.

“Honestly, my kids inspire me. I would be paralysed without them,” said the father of five.

And when asked what life would be without music, he said: “According to my mother, music has been in me ever since I was born. I can’t imagine my life not making music.”

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lohan spoke to Mukhlis Nor

1. What is the big picture for aLi and what are the long term plans like?
Continue to make what we make for a long time to come hopefully.. finish the second album and work on the following soon after. We reckon we will be doing this all our lives in some form or other, who knows where aLi will take us in the future. With passion and excitement as the driving force we figure can go on forever.

2. What is the common bond that holds you guys together as a working unit?
Music. We share ideals, philosophy and principles in finding solutions to our equations. Equilibrium of the sciences and arts. Creative processes not bound by convention. So we can continue to reinterpret and redefine the work we do.

3. How did this collaboration begin?
What continued for us as a routine day to day exercise of songwriting and music producing "took a turn for the purse". Our collaboration has gone through at least 4 or 5 incarnations over the last 22 years. Same approach, different concept each time.

4. What does this collection of songs represent?
Unity. Faith and Relationships (So as to be optimistic). It's actually mostly about sex and politics but don't tell anyone this. We always love versatility and modern styling, where they're deep-rooted in traditions yet sophisticated. A narrative rich in moral values and judgments not unlike what we as humans make, keep and adhere by everyday.

5. How do you hope the listening audience would view this?
As the farthest visible point to date. We get very serious when we prepare our presentations. Therefore we stretch and compress our resources limitlessly. Most often we come up with the most brilliant templates, master plans and blueprints for the strong and faint-hearted alike.


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