Introducing the Vans Musicians Wanted Johor Bahru Showcase Finalists

The first of three Vans Musicians Wanted Malaysia showcases will be taking place at Embrace Hall, Johor Bahru this weekend, so before you head down for a day of great music, we thought we’d give you the lowdown on the four hopefuls that will be trying to get a spot at the Vans regional stage.

Margasatwa

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Margasatwa

Margasatwa are a young five-piece. Don’t let the batik shirts and band name fool you, because while they’re definitely lovers of traditional Malay music, it doesn’t dominate their sonic palette, and is instead an additional flavour in their entertaining mix of blues, jazz rock and even psychedelic rock.

Why You Should Keep an Eye on Them

Margasatwa certainly aren’t the only band out there deeply inspired by Malay traditional/folk music, sure, but their music has a confident verve that sets them apart from some of their more overtly psych- and prog-rock influenced contemporaries. The fact that they’re not ashamed to showcase their love of 80s and 90s pop rock ballads helps give their music a more down-to-earth feeling, which can sometimes get lost when bands get way too heady. We’re really quite excited about what these guys have to offer, and we feel like they’ll be able to make an impact on the Malaysian scene sooner rather than later.

The Coffeemates

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The Coffeemates

The Coffeemates are a six-piece group from Johor Bahru that, in their own words, are “taking Nusantara sound to [the] otherside of modern fusion music”. The sextet takes traditional instruments such as the gambus and transplants them into modernity, influenced by contemporary trends in world music and fusion.

Why You Should Keep an Eye on Them

The Coffeemates, like Margasatwa, are unashamedly in love with the sounds of traditional Malay folk music. However, The Coffeemates take a much more “fusion” route than Margasatwa, by transplanting traditional Nustantara instruments (and melodic sense) more directly into modern sounds. But, while they’re not completely removed from the fusion and world music tags that they themselves seem to embrace, their music also carries with it a strong influence of anthemic modern-day indie rock that should help them avoid being typecast into only ever playing at world music and “heritage festival”-type of shows.

I Lost the Plot

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I Lost the Plot

I Lost the Plot are a three-piece band from Sungei Petani, Kedah. The band started out as a pretty standard pop-punk act under a different name but have, over the years, expanded their sound and integrated post-hardcore and alternative rock influences, all while keeping the melodic pop-punk roots intact.

Why You Should Keep an Eye on Them

I Lost the Plot don’t try and reinvent the wheel; they love fast-paced, melodic, guitar-driven rock music and they do it very well. Their most recent EP, Fairytales & Fears, wears its Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco influences on its sleeve, and what they lose in terms of originality they make up for in confidence and the quality of their performance. The EP is also quite impeccably produced for the style of music they play and it certainly seems like they have their house in order. I Lost the Plot are certainly bigger than the other hopefuls that will be playing on stage in Johor Bahru, and they’ve been around a lot longer, but they’re still not out of the woods yet and it’ll be interesting to see if they can kick on and really leave a mark on the scene.

Gurryshang

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Gurryshang

Hailing from Shah Alam, Gurryshang are a four-piece band that play post-punk with elements of noise and garage rock. An obvious sonic touchstone is the post-punk revival sound of the late 1990s and early 2000s, what with their dancy propulsion, wiry guitar and attempts at New York swagger.

Why You Should Keep an Eye on Them

To put it bluntly, Malaysia just doesn’t have enough post-punk bands. It’s been far too long since the dancy, agnular heyday of Moms on Strike and it’s really welcome to have a band mining that same musical territory again. It’s not an original sound and they’re far from the finished product, but the songs they’ve released show that they’re very keen students of the post-punk revival sound, with shades of all the big names (including a very obvious love of The Rapture) and we’d love to see them get the chance to get more stage time and experience playing live under their belts.