FORGET reality TV music idols or manufactured pop acts. Malaysia’s appetite for homegrown indie bands knew no boundaries this year. It has been a long time coming, but the momentum, for better or for worse, is with the local indie music community as it continues to push into the mainstream and attract media attention.

Just like the hip hop phenomenon in the late 1990s, indie music has made its way out of the fringe scene with a tide of young, exciting and fashionable bands capturing the imagination of the young Facebook generation.

Rarely has one single music genre been so rampant and reflected by a recognizable mix of music, fashion and lifestyle. The high visibility also gave birth to larger than life bands and a fresh sound on the airwaves.

Telco companies, radio stations, and festival organisers have been scrambling to associate themselves with the cream of the new indie crop, underlining this movement’s marketability and accessible appeal.

Malay indie rock outfit Hujan, possibly the biggest buzz band since OAG in the early 1990s, made good on its early promise as the nation’s breakthrough indie outfit. Led by enigmatic singer-songwriter Noh, Hujan began the year with much expectation.

Hujan, blending an inspired mix of indie attitude and Malay pop smarts, made the news early in the year with a tour of England financed by its Malaysian student fan base there, before returning home to play a career-defining set at the inaugural Sunburst festival in Kuala Lumpur. After courting controversy for its brash attitude in the Malay media, Hujan’s debut album, delivered the final verdict that this was no flash-in-the-pan phenomenon.

Rather than sing in fractured English, Hujan has elected to make cool music in Malay. With album sales exceeding 10,000 units, Hujan underlined the fact that homegrown bands can thrive on their own terms.

This has influenced younger bands to consider the national language as a creative outlet while the diverse and urban crowd, more accustomed to local English language music, has been sold on Malay indie.

If Hujan has single-handedly thwarted the Indonesian indie music invasion, the good news is that there has been no shortage of local contemporaries to challenge its lofty position in the coming months.

As a creatively fertile and self-sufficient community, the rise of prominent independent acts like Meet Uncle Hussain, Bittersweet, Laila’s Lounge, They Will Kill Us All, Couple, Deserters and Free Love can only mean a community going from strength-to-strength.

From Alor Star to Johor Baru right across to Kuching and back to Ipoh, there has been new indie music communities mushrooming, proving that the Klang Valley is not the only destination to produce the nation’s best new sounds.

The Kami movie, arguably the bridge between the underground and mainstream, must also be credited for giving the indie scene its new-found mobility.

Pop punk, a genre long regarded as forgotten, was also given a significant boost with One Buck Short’s debut Halal & Loving It while energetic newcomers Bunkface look to be the next-in-line for mainstream attention.

Elsewhere, the niche singer-songwriter circuit stirred to life with Jerome Kugan’s electro-acoustic debut Songs For A Shadow.

Young women were also not left behind with singer-songwriters Zee Avi (formerly KokoKaina), Yuna and Mei Chern turning up with singles, and mini-albums to write home about.

source from Thestar.com