What are we to whom?

Azmyl Yunor

An Orang Asli child stands in front of the Jalur Gemilang in Kg Aur, Taman Negara, Pahang. Are we defined by our national identity or social class first? Which one shapes our desires and values? – The Malaysian Insight file pic, June 19, 2020.

LAST week, I launched on my YouTube channel a music video made in collaboration with a former student for an old song, Let It Come, in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of my album Warga (this article will make better sense if you watch the video and read the lyrics).

I wrote the song way back in 1997 while at university in Perth (then a real backwater), and as the title suggests, it’s a rumination of sorts on expectations, and with the benefit of hindsight, economic inequality. When I wrote it, I didn’t have lofty thematic ideas in my head, but was merely emoting how I felt as a 20-year-old with the weight of expectations (my own, my family’s and society’s) on my shoulders. It was on my first-ever album on cassette – a lo-fi release recorded sporadically in 1996-97 with an unplugged cream-coloured Mexican Fender Telecaster (my first and only electric guitar to this day) on my Walkman (remember those?) while sitting cross-legged on the floor in my room.

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