Bidayuh band ‘Pinanak Sentah’ to promote their roots through music

Pinanak Sentah band members in their traditional Bidayuh attire.

Kenyalang Portraits

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, July 7: Formed in 2014, Pinanak Sentah is a relatively new local Dayak contemporary band that delivers a mixture of traditional and modern fusion.

Their spokesperson, Dantee Temik, better known as Michael at home, explained that in the Bidayuh Biatah language, ‘Pinanak Sentah’ means the ‘Generation of Sentah’.

“We are literally one family that loves music and to entertain. We are all from the same village called Sentah, which was named after a well known ancient mountain in Siburan,” he said.

DayakDaily interviewed Michael about the band after they performed as the opening act at Busker Raya Borneo 744 competition in Bintawa, here, recently.

“The band name was suggested by fellow villager Cottrell, who worked at Sarawak Cultural Village. We agreed with him as it represented our origin and our true identity.”

Pinanak Sentah performing as the opening act of the Busker Raya Borneo competition in Bintawa. From left are Natalina, Ethaniel, Ethania, Emmanuel and Alex.

Michael disclosed that originally it was a seven-member band but currently, its guitarist is undergoing training with the navy.

He said members of the band comprise his children and his relatives who are of mixed Chinese, Iban and Bidayuh Biatah ancestry. The members are young talented musicians whose ages range from 12 to 23.

Ethaniel Telon Dantee is on sape and flute, Ethania Shana Dantee (bass), Emmanuel Kurian Dantee (djembe/gendang Bidayuh), relatives Natalina Travis (jatung utang), Alex Loi (drum), Rick Hillary Dickson (keyboard) and Eric Loi (guitar).

Michael said despite being new in the local music scene, they were slowly making inroads and have been invited to perform in the upcoming Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) 2019 on the local stage known as ‘The Big Tent’.

“This is meant for emerging bands like us. To us, playing world music means we have the opportunity to show to the world our very own culture, tradition and ethnicity, especially of Borneo and Sarawak, in particular.”

Michael said they mostly played their own version of ethnic contemporary (a mixture of traditional and modern music). They are experimenting with Borneo/world music.

“The reason we do this is we want to show to the young generation this kind of music and to ensure that we can have continuity in it.”

He beamed as he said that the band members were really talented, and they learned by themselves and from senior musicians in the village.

Youngest band member, Emmanuel, 12, playing a djembe with the group as the opening act of the Busker Raya Borneo competition.

During each performance, the band members will sometimes sing and chant together in harmony with the rhythms. In future, they will probably create their own songs in their own ethnic language.

Michael said they also plan to explore further the band’s full potential and hoped some kind Samaritans could help them produce albums. He dreams of seeing his band performing in their own concert in front of a large audience.

He also plans to mount mobile concerts, where the group can tour Sarawak and then nationwide to showcase Bidayuh musicians at their best. The ultimate dream is to play and tour foreign countries, he confided.

“Fingers crossed. Hopefully, someday, someone out there will give us the opportunity and sponsor us. Dreams and hard work can come true.

“For the moment, Pinanak Sentah, whick has all the support of their fans, family and friends, will continue to strive one step at a time and to entertain music lovers with their kind music. This is because they all live on their music,” he said.

Pinanak Sentah playing at RWMF2018. Front (from left) Natalina, Emmanuel Kurian, Ethaniel and Stanley. Back (from left) Rick, Eric, Ethania and Alex.
Pinanak Sentah in a practice session at their home.

On Dayak youths in the music industry, Michael is optimistic there are growth opportunities.

“There are a lot of Dayak youths in the music industry, but most of them prefer to do modern music. Not many of them are in the ethnic contemporary music scene.”

Michael said despite the opportunities to explore their talents no matter where they are from, he believed there should be platforms or events for them to always showcase their talents.

He opined that certain organisations should take care or handle these emerging bands and the government back them with financing. — DayakDaily