At Adau spreading the message of love through their music

At Adau band members, lead by Lian (fourth from right), in a photo call with Sharzede (fifth from left) and other invited guests at their album launching at STB.

Kenyalang Portraits

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, Jan 30: Six-piece band At Adau, who uses soothing sape (a traditional stringed instrument) tunes as the base for their music, launched their second 9-track world music album ‘Oba’ today.

One of its founding members, Jackson Lian Ngau or better known as Lian, revealed that ‘Oba’ means love in his paternal Kenyah language.

“The album cover pictures a boy having a headphone over his head and hugging the earth with a cable inserted into it. What we are depicting here is that we in Sarawak and our band want everybody in this world to share the love of our music.

“We have big hopes in doing this album. We want to be able to represent Sarawak internationally and to bring peace and love to our brothers and sisters all around the globe,” he told reporters covering the launching of Oba by Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Sharzede Salleh Askor at STB’s office here today.

Lian said together with local music promoter CatSound company, At Adau planned to better their music ecosystem by creating more opportunities for their local act to spread internationally.

He thanked STB for being with them over the years. Their support had enabled the band members to set foot in Europe and Asia.

The cover art for At Adau’s album ‘Oba’

At Adau started as an experimental world music band in June 2014. The other band members are Ezra Tekola (Ezra), Meldrick Bob Udos (Bob), Alfanso Mckensie (Fonso), Luke Wrender David and Cerdic Riseng (Sidik).

The name At Adau comes from a combination of words from two Bornean languages.

‘At’ refers to ‘roots’ in the Bidayuh language, while ‘Adau’ is in the Kenyah dialect. It refers to the name of a type of tree normally used to craft sape.

Their first album is ‘Journey’, and their music is driven by traditional sape tunes blended with musical instruments from around the world.

The band combines the sounds of the sape and ‘perutong’ with drums, percussions, electric and bass guitars as well as traditional instruments such as Djembe and Dunun from West Africa, Congas from Latin percussion, Daf from Persia, bamboo rainstick and many more.

The band experiments with the fusion of modern and traditional instruments to create innovative and timeless music.

The band creates music to heal and rejuvenate weary souls. The band members believe that music has the power to overcome all the walls and barriers of culture, gender, age, language and ideological differences.

“Our musical creations do not only represent our feelings and expressions but also represent peace, serenity, appreciation for nature and a deep love and harmony between people around the world, regardless of cultural backgrounds, races and boundaries,” said Lian.

Lian (second from left) presents a copy of their album as a memento to Sharzede.

Meanwhile, Sharzede said music tourism is one way to promote Sarawak.

“We can use music to show the uniqueness of Sarawak, and this is where a band like At Adau can come in and show to the world our culture, tradition and way of life through their traditional tunes that depict the heritage of Sarawak.

“When event coordinator and music promoter CatSound Company came to me to promote the At Adau album, I didn’t have to think twice as to me, music is the form and one of the forms that bring people together.

“For me, people turn to music to calm themselves. It also lets people understand the lifestyles of our people,” she said.

She cited legendary UK rock band ‘The Beatles’ who created a culture for music.

“We must look at music as a whole. It creates culture. This is the way that we should go and one of the ways to discover what Sarawak has to offer — may it be for culture, adventure, nature, food or festival, and music is one of it.

“I would call it music tourism,” she said, adding that STB had invited the band to play in UK and China, where STB was promoting Sarawak.

“I love the young budding people here who come with great energy. For us, it is through music that we are able to bring the uniqueness of Sarawak to the world.

“Why are we different is because we have the culture, the people, the music. There is no where in this world that people have sape. Why are we not very proud of it? I asked At Adau about all the instruments they have, and they were talking about sape, bedok, silibat, tabuh, perutong and all the instruments that come from Sarawak,” she said.

Sharzede said her office wanted experiential tourism, and the behaviour is about “responsible tourism”, which is about sustainability.

“Hence, the way these people are bringing it to the world, it would create a very good ecosystem. An ecosystem that would be healthy for Sarawak or Malaysia, for that matter, and hopefully, we would move our marker of 7 in the rank to Top 5 or Top 3 among the top tourism industry players in the country,” she said. — DayakDaily