Culture, Digital & Mobile, Interviews, Videos — June 25, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Interview with The Wknd


Since its inception in 2008, online music magazine and multimedia platform The Wknd has left an indelible mark on the regional music scene, establishing itself as the go-to source for those seeking out the freshest unsigned and independent music from Malaysia and South-East Asia. Through their extensive collection of specially-produced videos under “The Wknd Sessions” and “Singgah Sekejap” series, The Wknd has featured musical gems such as Liyana Fizi, Tenderfist, Yuna and They Will Kill Us All, amongst many others. Due to their uncanny ability to seek out unique upcoming acts that the region has to offer, The Wknd is undoubtedly a taste-maker, simultaneously offering a much-needed springboard to new talents hoping to gain more exposure.
Music Services Asia interviews founder Fikri Fadzil to learn more about The Wknd.

Music Services Asia: First up – how was The Wknd formed and what’s behind the name?

Fikri: The Wknd was formed about 4 years ago, after realizing that there was a gap in video content on the internet, particularly relating to independent music in Malaysia. After speaking to a couple of friends, (Hardesh Singh and Ali Johan, who are still a part of the team to this day), we decided to give it a shot and started working on a raw and stripped-down pilot episode. We also started off recording only acoustic acts, but eventually evolved into recording full bands (electric sets).

The name ‘The Wknd’ (pronounced the weekend) was originally meant for another music-related project that I was about to embark on; after testing it out with some friends, they thought it was catchy enough so we decided to stick with it.

What’s a typical day like on set at The Wknd?

We record 10 bands over one weekend, so it does get pretty intense. We would normally come in a day earlier to prepare the set and plotting etc, making sure everything works. First thing in the morning we would reel in all our audio recording gear, patch everything up as quickly as possible, and give it a test run. Each band gets about 30 – 45 minutes to perform 3 songs, and is usually done in 1 take (for each song).

Our preparation and planning would happen months in advance though, e.g. scouting for new talent, brainstorming ideas for the set and liaising with bands, to make sure that there won’t be any hiccups during these two days of production.

How has The Wknd helped new acts to gain more visibility?

For a lot of Malaysian bands, getting airplay (video or audio) on traditional media requires a lot from them – at a minimum, an album. With The Wknd, our focus is on discovering and featuring new talent, who most likely have very minimal studio time. Our main website, The Wknd, gets about 140k pageviews a month, hence us distributing our content to other channels such as PopTeeVee, BFM 89.9 (a Malaysian radio station). We’re also working with a few other partners to expand our distribution channels for the future.

Originally we hosted our video content privately, on our own server, and realized that it was difficult for people to share them. We then decided to host all our videos (past, present and future) on YouTube, to get more reach.

For bands that we’ve featured, there are several success stories (eg. Tenderfist touring Europe, Diandra Arjunaidi signing to a local label), but most importantly is that we could see a majority of the bands that came on the show have taken their musical career more seriously by releasing records and gigging a lot more. That’s good enough for us!

Out of all the episodes that you’ve produced on The Wknd, which are your favourites and why?

It is very hard to pinpoint favourites, because I personally grew into liking a lot of the bands on the show. But in terms of most memorable, it would be an episode we shot a couple of years back, where we initially planned to shoot on a rooftop in the heart of KL. After setting up all the equipment, and we were ready to go, it started pouring! So we had to scramble and move all our equipment to the nearest building (mind you, we were dealing with a lot of electricals!). We ended up shooting at 1am, and Khottal, this band we just met from Malacca, Malaysia, blew our minds, making everything worthwhile.

The Wknd Store was launched recently to sell recordings of past sessions – how has this supported or complemented The Wknd? Are there any other plans of expansion?

We’ve gotten a lot of people asking us where they could buy the recordings, so we decided it’s about time that we launched our own store, where we would sell not only our recordings, but physical CDs by local and regional bands too. We’re also looking at selling our own merchandise, and some future merchandise-related collaborations too.

We spied on your Twitter page and learnt that The Wknd has a “bold and exciting road” map for the future – what can supporters of The Wknd as well as emerging artists look forward to?

This year, we’re looking at expanding and venturing into new territories. We’re trying to get our content to more traditional media and on-ground events – something of a value-add for the artists that come on our show. Since we started, our focus has been mainly towards Malaysia, so we’re starting to peek at our neighbors, and eventually say hello to them.