Tropical Hornbills is a Brunei-based experimental, psychedelic indie rock band. This is the first time The Wknd Sessions is featuring an artist from that part of the region, so there’s a lot of new ground to cover.

We were introduced to the band when they submitted an entry for Vans Musicans Wanted 2018. And without further ado, read about Akram (drums), Limin (guitars), Matt (vocals/guitars), Andy (bass), Hafiz (synths) and the act known as Tropical Hornbills.

Note: The first Tropical Hornbill video comes out on 29th March 2019. Second video will be released on Monday (1st of April). And the final video on Wednesday (3rd of April). All at 3pm!

The Bruneian music scene

We asked the band to describe what the music scene is like over there.

“There’s actually a wide variety of music… it’s quite diverse. Just that we don’t have a platform to showcase the talent.”

“There’s a fair bit of guidelines and policies, especially when it comes to a full band with drums”, Matt says. Performing live can be quite challenging, as an artist has to comply with these regulations.

There are performance venues, but there’s a lot of processes to go through in order to get the necessary approvals. And smaller venues like open mic shows are a lot easier to get going.

It still feels optimistic though, the band admits. And the lack of platforms doesn’t stop people from forming bands. But most of the time, these are studio bands – recording just to release an album.

The Malaysian connection

That desire to seek more exposure drives a lot of Bruneian bands to take part in the Malaysian music scene. With Miri – a coastal city in Northeastern Sarawak – being in close proximity, it’s a natural destination for many Bruneian bands.

“Quite a lot of Bruneian bands have played in Miri… it’s just a two-hour drive away.”

The band also mentioned that they’ve played shows in Kuching and Kuala Lumpur, in their plan to gain access to a wider audience.

Tropical Hornbills: Taking flight.

We asked the band about their future plans.

In 2019, our KPI (and hashtag!) is #NoFreeGigs!

Tropical Hornbills admit that they’ve done enough free gigs in 2018, including their fair share of “pay-to-play” shows (note: watch the interview below to learn what this is!). So this year is about performing at more paid gigs – which could possibly mean performing more outside of their home base.

Also part of Tropical Hornbills plan is to record their debut album. They’ve tried to do this in the past, but having been literally struck by lightning, the album never materialized. So the band is determined to make 2019 the year the long-awaited album will be born.


Watch our exclusive interview with Tropical Hornbills and learn more about the struggles of being an artist in Brunei:

You can check out the band on Spotify, iTunes, Deezer and other digital channels – just search for The Wknd Sessions Ep. 110 on your favorite stores!