Sarawakian band’s ode to durian tastes success

Kitai Anak Borneo

KUCHING, Dec 25: ‘Let’s Eat Durian’ — a Chinese song mixed with Iban, Hakka and Bahasa Sarawak lyrics, dedicated to Sarawakians’ love for durian, has become a hit online.

The latest song by local Bornean rock band ‘Kitai Anak Borneo’ on the King of Fruits has garnered more than 10,000 views on both Facebook and YouTube respectively.

Composed by Evan Lee, vocalist of the five-member group of mixed Melanau and Chinese parentage, this song aims to reflect the multicultural society of Sarawak.

This is also Lee’s second song, after his first song titled, ‘Who are you, Who am I‘ that won him the champion’s title in the Patriotic Song Wring Contest 2017.


“Evan first approached me to look for band members to join the contest. We wanted something local, something with a Sarawak feel reflective of our society,” the band’s producer Lesley Tnay said, relating how the band was formed.

Kitai Anak Borneo (KAB), which means “We are children of Borneo” in the Iban language, was thereby pre-formed on March 11, 2017 for the songwriting competition that held at Petaling Street. That was also the first time KAB members collaborated to perform on stage with the first song written by Lee.

Band members are lead vocalist Evan Lee, sape player Rambo Chai, guitarist Richard Lee, bassist Mahendra Suhartono and masked drummer Nadai (which can be anyone).

The band using traditional Sarawak music instruments such as the sape, a move which also won them the best music arrangement award at the same competition.

The band mainly plays contemporary music (rock, country and reggae) and Dayak fusion. Their music brings together elements of Borneo art and modern pop, injecting a much different energy to the local Chinese music scene. The contents of KAB’s songs are mostly related to local culture, daily life and current issues of being Malaysian.

KAB received much positive feedback after the competition, mostly from Sarawakians, as they are the only Sarawakian talents who became finalists and the biggest overall winner of the competition. Due to the encouragement of the audience and fans, the members decided to continue their musical journey as a band.

The group’s song about durian is also related to the daily life of Sarawakians, reminding listeners that it is not just a fruit, but a memory for everyone of us whether you love the fruit or loathe it.

“It means something to every one of us, such as a fragment of childhood memory, a smell that you love or hate, a fruit that you used to share with someone you love, etc,” said Tnay.

Unity and equality is the main message, which is also shown in the song’s Iban lyrics:

Ikan kekek mak iloi iloi,
Ikan gelama mak ilai ilai,
Mun kitak nak makan buah rian,
Datang rumah kamek kita sama makan.

“No matter we come from, which race, background and nationality, we’ll sure have something in common. As long as we are willing to understand each other and share what we have with others, there will be harmony,” the band writes on its official YouTube channel. – Dayak Daily