SWEETASS

KUALA LUMPUR

Est 2018

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Sweetass, known as a local four-piece Indie-rock band (Alang Sekitar, Zaki Ibrahim, Azlan Ariff, James “Sungai” Rivers), is actually more accurately described as “a DIY creative collective”. They openly and happily cite Mohktar Rizal (Engineer, Record Producer), Adham Mutahir (Photographer, MV Director), Arman Shahmiey (MV Director, Videographer), Fry Yusof (Illustrator), Azza Yusof (Photographer, Social Media Manager), Firdaus Malek (Videographer, Sound Tech) and many others as members. They see their foray into the local music scene as only one arm of their approach to engaging Malaysian youth and pushing them forward in the “Music Scene” and “Creative Industries” at large. Additionally, they commonly engage younger local bands and creatives; taking a lead role in promoting shows and organizing video shoots, helping connect bands and labels, coaching and even sponsoring rehearsal sessions. Central to the way that they think it is important to them that every contributor receives their share of the groups’ income.

Brand presence has long been as important as the music itself and as a collective, they take this very seriously, having already produced and contributed an enormous amount of branded content and merchandise alongside their recorded material and live shows. The DIY spirit has been a central part of what they do since day-zero, their entire first record was self-funded, self-promoted, self-released and their touring and live shows generally follow suit.

Their vision is quite simple; in this age of Spotify, YouTube and free channels of distribution, nobody needs to be vying for the attention of “major labels” in order to bring their art to the masses and put Malaysia on the world’s creative map. “In fact,” they say “if you sit around hoping somebody else might do it for you might die waiting or retire in obscurity, having never made your imprint or inspired anyone to take charge of their own creative trajectory”. Additionally, they prioritize inspiring others in Malaysia to follow in their footsteps, encouraging and, as often as possible, trying to show the Malaysian youth that they shouldn’t wait either. 

 

Their 1995 music video was directed by then 20-year-old Arman Shahmiey and was his first project as a Director. “We met this young kid who had almost all the tools and 110% of the passion to make a damn badass music video; so we were absolutely falling over ourselves to give him a platform; safe to say two MV’s later we are absolutely stunned at what he can do and have no doubt he will carry on and do incredible work in his career as a creative. Despite what some old-heads might think, so many of these kids in Malaysia are passionate and creative. They just need someone to give them a chance to get started, and maybe a helping hand with funding projects every now and then.”.

 

We should all know by now that content is key in marketing to a modern, youthful audience and Sweetass knows the Malaysian youth audience is no different. They have been relentless in this, with daily content uploads, monthly merchandising drops, and quarterly music releases. From this some amount of success and notoriety has found them too; with the first physical (CD) release of their freshman album “Wa Caya Lu” selling out within 24 hours (Record Store Day 2019) and their follow up limited cassette release selling out within 4 hours of its release (Cassette Store Day 2019). This is of course in addition to the hundreds of t-shirts, tote bags, buttons, stickers and other merchandise sold since the band’s inception.

A key component in their approach, and reason for the collectives inclusion of so many members, is documentation. Since day-zero they prioritized having people on board documenting everything (at shows, at practice, at recording, and essentially every step of the way). To the point now where Adham Mutahir and Arman Shahmiey’s presence at shows, studio sessions and on tour is more than a familiar sight to any fan of the group, it’s a guarantee, and they are greeted by the fans similarly to the core members of the band itself.

Lastly, to touch on their aesthetic and creative choices throughout their climb so far; Sweetass, as a band, is unlike so many others in the “scene”. They keep things local. From their lyrics to their riffs, their merchandising to their album covers, and even their humourous and creative social media presence, they exploit every opportunity they can to stir a sense of what it is to be proudly Malaysian; from stirring nostalgia with the iconic “Ngan Yin”, “Scotts Emulsion” and “Kiwi Brand Shoe Polish”  parody artworks, to uniting Malaysians with the (now iconic) lyrics “WA CAYA SAMA LU, LU CAYA SAMA WA”. Their hope in doing this isn’t just to build an audience within Malaysia, but also to make sure that, when the time comes to take their music overseas, they take a big fat slice of Malaysia with them to show off to the world.

From the band; “We always wanted to speak to the kids at our shows first and foremost, or to our friends, to make them laugh and smile and think to themselves ‘hey this is fucking cool AND very Malaysian, maybe I can do it like this too’ ”.

“With assistance or not I think its safe to say we are going to keep doing what we are doing, that was why we changed out IG handle to @Sweetassrecords all that time ago because we want to make this something more than a band and we know we can do it ourselves if we have to. Eventually, we want to be releasing music by other up and coming bands, paying artists, videographers and photographers to shoot and create content not just to boost us but to build up Malaysia as a whole. To us, this is all about community building and really it all comes back to that simple phrase…. WA CAYA SAMA LU”.

SWEETASS - Aria (Official Music Video)
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SWEETASS - Aria (Official Music Video)

"Sweetass’s self-proclaimed noise pop label is without irony. Evident from their album, Wa CayaLu, the band has successfully married sonic chaos and big, big melodies. Consisting of James Rivers on Drums, Zaki Ibrahim on guitars, Azlan Ariff on bass and Alang Sekitar belting out vocals while strumming rhythms, the band waves the flag of catchiness with pride. They’re a timeless reminder that teeth-grinding distortions and fuzz pedals are like peanuts - seemingly impenetrable hard shells can contain a surprisingly delicious & edible center. At risk of sounding like a food commercial, Sweetass also describes their sound as “haruan cina noise”, an ode to the rare and mysterious chinese snakehead fish. Their 2018 single “Haruan Cina” sheds some light on this through their lyrics about being patient when manningyour fishing rod - someday these fishes will bite. Beauty is everywhere, man, even in noise. You’re just not paying attention. This wholesome Michael Jackson-esque message is also found in their song “Aria”. Straight from their debut, “Aria” is a subtle working-class anthem channeled through a lazy slacker drawl. It’s all about tuning out life’s humdrum after a hard day’s work, while kicking it up with a choice beverage. ““Aria” is about our favourite after work haunt; that one special place where the staff know you by name and treat you like family. The owner told us he was going to engrave our names into a table there because he was so touched when he heard it. Whether you know the place or not we intend this song to bring those same homely familial and familiar vibes to whoever is listening”, said the band in a statement. The music video, directed by Adam Mutahir, is a sweetass tribute to this very feeling, now complete with the adolescent urge to escape. There are very few sensations that can compare with listening to your favourite band on your headphones, pretending for a good few minutes that you’ve beaten the rat race like the grunge star your parents/wife/ustaz say you will never be. The revolution starts in your brain: let the guitar feedback tune out society’s feedback, and smash that air guitar like it costs nothing." - Zim Ahmadi, Awful Track Records. CREDITS: Director | Adam Mutahir Producers | Sweetass / Adam Mutahir Line Producer | Pete Production Assist | Syahir Lead Cast | Heiqal / Sweetass DOP | Adam Mutahir B-Camera | Khairul Camera assistant / Gaffer | Fathi Production Designer | Bad Prop | Botak Makeup / Costume | Yosoyteyn Offline / Online editor | Omaw Music | Sweetass 7-track album "Wa Caya Lu" by Sweetass released March '18 on Sweetass Records. All songs and lyrics were written and produced by Sweetass Recorded live at iSeekmusic Studio Engineered by Mokhtar Rizal Artwork by Sweetass Follow their antics here: http://instagram.com/sweetassrecords Purchase digital album on Bandcamp: http://sweetass.bandcamp.com Lyrics : Feeling down Feeling tired after work Mind is mixed up during rest with all the stress Longing for fizzy brew draught named kenny Hit the tap hit it yeah oh yeah I am good thou I'm skint but it's on me No worries, no cash how oh it's Barney's Sujan comes to rescue your loyalty Keep coming back yeah I'm back! Made in Malaysia © All rights reserved Sweetass Records 2019
SWEETASS - 1995 (Official Music Video)
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SWEETASS - 1995 (Official Music Video)

"One of the more melodious grunge cuts in Sweetass’s debut album gets a music video filled with grainy camcorder jackassery and old-school funtimes. As the song serves fuzzy, tightly screwed riffs, it’s contrasted visually with a looser, chaotic collage of Alang rocking a denim jacket, arcade machines and James mooning (It’s all PG-13). The essential craziness of “1995” is that it acts like fuckall love letter to the world who thinks everything you’re doing is nonsense. Taking away those moments when feel like getting lost once in a while, in that time of your life when Weezer didn’t suck and Billy Corgan made sense. “It’s about what the baby boomers think of my generation. They think they built the nation, while we just want things to stimulate us.” said Alang. You don’t need to have been alive in 1995 to travel back in time. “It felt like a nostalgia ride for me when I first listened to it”, said director, Arman Shahmiey, when talking about the song. “It reminded me of my angst-filled high school years. I used to play with my dad's video cam a lot back then, so I recorded all of my friends hanging out, pressing doorbells in the middle of the night from door to door and running away, riding bikes all day”. 1995, time to feel alive again." - Zim Ahmadi, Awful Track Record ___________________________________________________________________ Shot with: JVC Camcorder EVERIO, Nikon D90, Fujifilm XT2, Iphone 6 VHS fx: Sony Video Cassette Recorder SLV-T2000 Film Photography: Yashica EZS Zoom 105 ___________________________________________________________________ CREDITS: Director | Arman Shahmiey @tiangelektrik Producer | Sweetass Records @sweetassrecords DOP | Raymond @raymondislazy Arman Shahmiey @tiangelektrik B-Camera | Firdaus Malek @mohdfirdausmalek Makeup / Costume | Azza Yusof @zatulaland Editor | Arman Shahmiey @tiangelektrik Graphics | Arman Shahmiey @tiangelektrik Production Hero: Faris Ramli Faiz @meetplop Syaher Zaili @syaherzaili Aiman Hariz @aaimengggg Izelan Shahier @lamegogh Azila Farris Joshua John Special thanks to: Adam Mutahir TAPAUtv Fry Yusof Ammelia Norazlan Talha Mutallib Muhammad Azifudin Khirul Fadzly (Apai) Calvin Goh Khing Asyraf Idris Aliya Marissa ___________________________________________________________________ Sweetass Records (2019) Made in Malaysia © All rights reserved
SWEETASS - Si Kiwi (Official Music Video)
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SWEETASS - Si Kiwi (Official Music Video)

"Si Kiwi is James Rivers. The following footage that you’re about to witness is representative of a wild creature’s lost memory, in his natural habitat & going to struggles and phases in life. Despite this, a glimpse of happiness is involved within his surroundings. All footage is recorded by James Rivers during his time in New Zealand. Any copyright infringement will be investigated by SWEETASS RECORDS & may constitute a felony with a maximum penalty of 100 years in our ass." - Arman Shahmiey, October 2019 Shot entirely on Instagram by James Rivers, pieced together by Arman Shahmiey for Sweetass Records (2019) All songs and lyrics were written and produced by Sweetass Recorded at iSeekmusic Studio Backup vocals by Azza Yusof Engineered by Mokhtar Rizal Single artwork by Fry Yusof Follow their antics here: http://instagram.com/sweetassrecords Lyrics : Raise up the bar I wanna level up I’m done with one I want it all Tinder me up I know I’m good These Asian chicks would want me more I’m cute as fuck Surely chivalrous I know you think I’m pathetic Obnoxious is a fucking myth Imma take you out on bloody date I’m done with one I want them all I’m left with no one Still miss you so And now there is No fucking way to hide Since you push my love aside I’m outta ma head and you know why Hopelessly devoted to you I’m outta ma head And you know why Hmm mmm mmm Hopelessly devoted to you Made in Malaysia © All rights reserved Sweetass Records 2019