Assalamualaikum and welcome to a crash course in Malaysia’s indie music scene.

First off, let me just say, one’s taste in music is highly subjective and I wouldn’t expect you to like the same things. The least I could do is broaden your horizon on the many flavours that our local music scene has to offer.

So if you haven’t been exposed to the sounds and successes of Malaysia’s indie music, here’s a list for you to start off with. They’re mostly indie because if you want mainstream, pegi la layan Okay?

1. alextbh

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Malaysia’s quintessential queer pop icon Alextbh is here and ready to bless your ears. If you’re into the whole bedroom-electro-chill R&B vibe ala Majid Jordan or Daniel Caesar, then Alextbh’s music is right up your alley. Although ‘Stoop So Low‘ might have been his breakthrough track (13 million plays on Spotify to date), my pick has gotta be ‘Like That’ — it’s the perfect song to listen to if you’re about to head out for a night out with your girlfriends. Or boyfriends because equality ✊.

Other notable tracks: no space, still mine

2. Zamaera

If y’all haven’t heard of Zamaera, y’all are missing out. This lyrical queen raps like nobody’s business. This song ‘Helly Kelly’ wasn’t just a mere introduction to the hip hop scene. No. This song datang tak bagi salam. It was more like – nah amik kau! She has certainly asserted her dominance in the rap arena and showed everyone what a badass female rapper can do in a field that is very much saturated with male rappers.

Sorry guys, I get a bit aggressive when I listen to her rap. It’s just really cathartic.

Other notable tracks: Wanita, Z vs Z

3. The Impatient Sisters

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The Impatient Sisters are “three sisters who write songs sometimes but fight all the time” – to quote their own description. Their music is best described as a blend of quirky, whimsical folk-pop with a hint of romantic depth. Most of their songs are played with the acoustic guitar with an interesting combination of the cello, xylophone and kazoo (just imagine what a small penyet plastic trumpet would sound like. Yup, that’s a kazoo.), but their most notable instrument is their enchanting harmonizing vocals.

The Ark‘ is definitely one of my favourites. The playful nature of the song keeps you on your toes as you listen to more and more instruments being added into the mix.

Other notable tracks: Comet and Stars, Hey There Young Sailor

4. Toko Kilat

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Toko Kilat is an indie rock band with a vibe that is reminiscent of Interpol, but with more rounded and fuller vocals. Their song ‘Pemacu Api‘ is about an arsonist who will set your house on fire AND WATCH IT BURN if you piss him off. With a steady build-up of bass, guitar and percussion, it’s the kind of song I’d listen to IF I enjoyed running. Unfortunately, the only running I do is towards my car when I see abang JPJ giving out summons.

Other notable tracks: Ratu Malam, Satu Suara

5. Ramayan

Ramayan is a band whose music is best described as psychedelic pop infused with blues and Malay music. I’m gonna sound like an idiot trying to paint a picture of their sound but here goes! Think of maybe Tame Impala or MGMT plus.. Nasi lemak? ??‍♀ Anyway, this song ‘Sepintas Sastera Hati’ starts off very noire, then slowly transitions to a more contemporary melody with a hint of acid trippin’ down Petaling Street. I swear I’m not high. Just watch their video clip and it’ll make more sense (maybe).

Other notable tracks: Oh Dewiku, Akhir Kalam

Well, there you have it. If you think there are other good ones I should’ve mentioned, lemme know in the comments. The whole point here is to discover more of our local gems!


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