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Waiting out the storm

Waiting out the storm 1

Much has been said about the current coronavirus pandemic that has been on a warpath across the planet, and is currently in its second wave within Malaysia. Crippling the economy and modern daily life, the virus is expected to linger for several more months.

Focusing on the virus’ impact on the entertainment industry in Malaysia, theSun got in contact with some key figures from the shadowed valleys of the local underground music scene to ask their opinions on what has put the country and their livelihoods in a chokehold.

Several of the interviewed individuals have chosen to go by pseudonyms or stage names, and one has chosen to remain anonymous.

Owner of Varmt Stål Records

“I’ve been spending time on my hobbies and passion; listening to records, browsing label online stores, watching movies online, re-watching old TV shows and managing the orders on Varmt Stål Records’ webstore.

“Temporary self-isolation has finally become a reality for all of us. We’re living in an unprecedented time, and the notion of staying at home for an extended period is a lot for anyone to wrap their head around, both physically and mentally.

“As for the virus’ impact on the underground music scene, look around you. Fears of the coronavirus’ impact on the global underground scene has rocked music markets worldwide! All the physical stores are temporarily closed; not only are big concerts affected, but even underground gigs.

“Even worse is how shipping [items] from infected countries has also temporarily stopped, both exports and imports, just to make sure this pandemic is not spreading further around the globe.

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“But on another note, it is a good move though. For now, we should stay clean and safe for the next two to three months, and we will get our scene back.”

Man Beranak, owner of Rumah Api

“For Rumah Api, the impact is really towards the rent and bills. For the record and distro sales, maybe it is not a problem as it can still be done online as the postal service is still up and running.

“For the local do-it-yourself (DIY) hardcore punk scene, I do not think the virus poses that much of a problem for the bands as most of them [have full-time day jobs].”

Ajax Salaman, co-organiser of KL Metalcamp

“In my opinion, Covid-19 will leave a big impact on the metal scene, not only in 2020 but also in the future. As for now, most gigs and festivals have been cancelled. Bands have stopped touring, and labels are postponing new releases. Bands and label activities are really affected by this epidemic.

“We also received news that members of [US thrash bands] Testament and Death Angel were infected with Covid-19 during their recent tour. This a very serious situation that I don’t think people in the scene were expecting, or were prepared for.

“But, the metal scene is more about passion and it will find ways to rise again! In this moment where everything has come to a halt, it gives us time to look back, plan for the future and be creative. We have never experienced a situation like this before, and it is important for us metalheads to stay positive.

“Bands like the Swedish Necrophobic, for example, live streamed a gig recently as an alternative to their live gig. Maybe we will see this more often in the future!”

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Bloodhymns, vocalist and guitarist for the band IEON

“I’m currently keeping myself busy by composing new songs. Nowadays [there’s] nothing much to do except play the guitar, look after my cats and anything else that keeps me busy. [I’m] bored to death.

“Overall, from what I can see, most of the bands are busy composing new songs. The impact on the scene is that we can’t perform during gigs and meet our friends. Communication is restricted to the internet and phone.

“I can see that lots of [new music will be released] after the restriction comes to an end.”

Black, manager of Area.51 Studio

“Managing the jamming studio Area.51, we were often frequented by friends from the underground scene, along with bands from around Taman Medan and Dato Harun. You could say we were ‘fully booked’ from 9pm to 3am. This was before the Movement Control Order.

“If the restriction is extended, we will definitely suffer more losses because the studio rental and bills have to be paid despite there being no income. We would have to shoulder all the losses.”

Daniel Eddie, bassist for the band Massacre Conspiracy

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“At the moment, I would say that it is quite a tough time for the local music scene, or any form of entertainment, as being out in the open spreading music through [live] performances is not allowed, knowing that most shows and concerts had to be cancelled for the safety of all.

“But I believe, during this social pause, musicians (both local and international) could use this time to perhaps focus on their own personal performance, do home practices or create new music.

“Fans will still be there for you, despite the current situation, as band merchandise is still being sold and our music is still being listened to.”

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