The Venopian Solitude is Suiko Takahara’s “experimenternative” project. Born and raised in Malaysia, she’s been doing music for 10 or 7 years – depending on when we start counting – and uses YouTube as a swift communication medium. Featuring Urbanscapes Festival‘s line-up this year, Suiko answered our email interview about her music, videos, career and how to survive a music festival. You can’t expect what is following but it is more than worth a read, and this is a promise.
Hi, Suiko! How and when did you start writing songs and making music?
Hi, Word Document! I started hacking songs (meaning changing the lyrics of pop/love songs into a teenage angst-fuelled storyline) with my friends when I was around 13.
Ok, start over because that doesn’t count.
I started writing songs some time before SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia [Malaysian Certificate of Education]) when I was 17. My brain just seemed to be churning at that moment million-ringgit ideas whenever I was in the shower, so the first song I wrote was about heavily biased religious war. And the next song sounded something very much like Fall Out Boy. It seems I have a useless sponge for a brain (excessive exposure to some things can do that).
I started making music with legitimate/illegitimate (as in everyday items, not stolen goods) instruments around after SPM, when Ma was being nosy about how I wanted to buy a RM70 gitar kapok but didn’t even touch the piano keyboard at home, so I took that as a challenge and annoyed the whole household by creating short melodies until the wee hours of the morning.
We’ve noticed your pretty hilarious off-the-cuff videos on YouTube. Are these the core of your creation process? How does the live full-band transplant from there?
I’m not sure whether to take the hilarity as a compliment or an offence because I was both bored and seriously normal when I did the videos, but I shall definitely take that as a compliment.
I have no process. I had immense boredom, an unnecessary amount of stress and sky-high procrastination levels that I just did what I did ever so spontaneously (and still do). When I got interviewed by Boon Ken of Time Out KL earlier this year, he appropriately and aptly defined that process as “therapy”, which I have to credit him for because it took me three years to understand what the frig I was doing, wasting time and all.
The live full-band thing happened after I got approached by Anas Amdan (of Kasi Gegar Entertainment) to make an album. And he just used his power of a producer to bring in some friends to back me up. And I’d like to think they’re my bloody-talented band mates now, because I don’t want to be a snob and say they’re backing me, because they’re doing me a favour. In fact, I’m actually ruining their flow of musical chemistry with my skill of messing lyrics up, among other things. But all’s good, we’re buddies now, ewah ewah.
You won The Wknd Recording Fund in April, travelled to Japan for the Kansai Music Conference in September and you are featuring in Urbanscapes’ line-up next month. How do you feel about this acceleration in your career and what’s next for you?
First of all, I don’t take it seriously as a career (the parents and siblings are afraid I might be broke and homeless due to being an absolutely unsustainable money-making profession, which is a “musician”) but I’d like to think the commitment from my end is there. Second of all, it’s stupid. As in mind-bogglingly-what-the-hell-why-am-I-even-getting-all-these-awesome-things stupid. I don’t know how else to say it because whenever I recall the aforementioned events, it’s ridiculous. There are talented, way talented musicians across the country, and I got picked. I’m almost certain they’re desperate and just being nice, and they got a concussion when they heard my crappy songs, and bleeding ears, and bloodshot eyes, and melting brain…dude, there must be some explanation to this.
As for what’s next, I’m currently making an album (with said Anas and his protégé Kemat) and you know how Malaysian musicians are, we’re ALWAYS in the process of recording an album and it will take like another century to get that thing out. Me personally, I’m just an excellent procrastinator.
I’ll get back to you when we’ve finished printing the whole thing in the next ten years or so.
What are you looking forward to the most during the two days of Urbanscapes?
If I knew Two Door Cinema Club (the only international act of Urbanscapes 2013 that I’m exposed to) last week and not in the last two years, I would be excited for them. I’m more excited about the local acts: Bihzhu (I was repeatedly dropping my jaw throughout her performance at Layan Fest 2013), Pitahati, Kyoto Protocol, They Will Kill Us All, Khottal…basically every local act. Because I’m the kind of idiot who would pay RM200 for local bands to play (which I did during Good Vibes–I had to get back by 10pm because I have a curfew at home despite my old age of going-23, thus the local-acts-only festival experience). I need to find a day job and just go up to them and scream, “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. AND PLAY PLEASE AND THANK YOU.”
Name three things that you find necessary to survive a whole day at a music festival:
1. Mineral water.
3. Stamina to scream like an idiot, dance like an idiot, run across the plains from stage to stage to food vendors to stage like an idiot.
I’m sorry for babbling like an idiot. It’s hard to stop typing once I start.
Catch The Venopian Solitude at Urbanscapes Festival on November 23rd at 3pm, Upfront Stage. All information on the festival and ticket sales here.