Music News Performing Arts

Featured Showcase: ‘#Rombongan Nona Gila’ @ RUANG, Shah Alam

Live therapy sessions with Takahara Suiko a.k.a. The Venopian Solitude, climaxes this Sunday, May 24, at RUANG in Seksyen 16, Shah Alam. Along with her wacky band in tow, the showcase will be done to wrap up the recent Hikayat Perawan Majnun album tour as well as #RombonganNonaGila.

But first, we picked that bizarre, one-off mind of hers to get you warmed up for Sunday night’s showcase.

知りません(Shiri masen),

わかりません(Wakarimasen).

“I don’t know, I have no idea.”

That was the answer coming from Takahara Suiko when asked to decide on a genre that best represents The Venopian Solitude. Though some may call the band’s music experimental or alternative or even expermentative (as she has stated on their Facebook band page), I still think the best answer was her first honest reaction.

Having a genre is a thing of the past; it’s an unnecessary practice in the modern creative industry and Takahara, or Taka, knows this. If one is to slap The Venopian Solitude with a genre, then I think ‘avant-garde’ would best suit them. Pushing the limits of the conventional, exploring fusions of genres and being ahead of the curve is generally what The Venopian Solitude does.

TVS’ musical compositions only reflect one thing to my ears – joy. They enjoy playing this “weird” music and that’s the only thing that really matters when it comes right down to the line. The fans too feel this pleasure from their performances, making it easier for them to fully embrace the eccentricity and immerse themselves in the experience (even if it’s just in 2D).

Recently, I had the privilege to lepak with TVS’ chief creative force Takahara Suiko. Though it was supposed to be a professional interview, nothing could really be orthodox when it comes to such a unique persona. So from one professional procrastinator to another, I can only hope that the words I have captured below do justice in capturing the articulate stream-of-consciousness essence that is Takahara Suiko of The Venopian Solitude.

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When did you first start playing a musical instrument and what was it?

It was the recorder yang they force you to play kat sekolah rendah. But the musical instrument which I found on my own to play with was the old phones. Remember those tunes you can mix with your phone’s keypad? I used to play those, and sometimes I would perform snippets of Hindi hits and my own little ringtone compositions to my friends in class. Did you know you can play K3G’s “You Are My Sonia” with the dialtone numbers 1, 2 and 3? 1-2-3–, 1-2-3–, 1-3–, 1-2–1-1…

What’s your favorite instrument to play?

Well it changes according to my mood but currently it’s Ableton (Live, music performance software).

If you had the cash what type of instruments would you buy?

Well, I would still prefer using what I have. I’ve always prefered the DIY instruments mainly because of Nataly Dawn and The Mystery Guitarman. Maybe upgrade sikit la. Maybe I’ll buy additional equipment that compliments the Ableton.

When did you first record yourself performing?

(It was) 2008 or so, for Live Journal.

How long after that before you started posting it up on YouTube?

Two years or so. It was around 2010 when I was in Japan. At first, I recorded only for my own self-documentation and also to see my progress but since my laptop kept crashing, it was safer to upload it online and just archive on the cloud. YouTube was the easiest video platform, and I didn’t expect other people to actually watch those but apparently they did and now we’re here.

A fan by the name of Hzyr commented on your “Tenangkan Bontot Anda” official video, that watching you perform brings a Shugo Tokumaru vibe. A quirky, eccentric and giddy kind of vibe. Any comments?

Flattered. I’ve downloaded his albums, I love it but I don’t really want to listen right now because I’m obsessed with Kimbra at the moment.  You see, I don’t just listen to an album, I obsessively replay it. But since I’ve got loads to do right now, I’m afraid his songs would have too much influence on my current projects.

Your Facebook page stated your influences as: Rivers. Cars. Trains. Birds. Crickets…mm…Crickets. That is an interesting list but honestly who influences you musically?

Hahaha… Oh wow, you actually read that. Crickets, yeah. Hmm. Honestly the one that comes to mind right now would be Kimbra, Laura MarlingKimya Dawson, Regina Spektor and Kawehi.

How about listing down 5 songs everyone should listen to?

My songs or just general?

Anything.

Well that’s a tricky one, it depends on the mood really.

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How about 5 albums everyone should have?

Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, for its concept; The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake for its production value; Kimbra’s The Golden Echo, and THE by Tricot because they’re awesome.

So what is your album, Hikayat Perawan Majnun, really about?

Well it was supposed to be like a Peter & Jane kind of story book. A compilation or a diary filled with ramblings and thoughts of a crazy person going through hormonal outbursts.

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When can we expect a new album from you?

Oh, new album. I haven’t set a date yet. I have the concept but I want to explore a bit more. I was planning maybe a 14- or 16-song album. We’ll see how it goes.

What type of venues do you prefer to perform at?

Small venues. I prefer the intimate sessions rather than the big stages. Since there will be more expectation at big venues. Unless of course you’re some big shot American artist like Paramore then okay la – tunjuk muka semua orang dah happy.

If you could perform anywhere in the world outside Malaysia where would it be?

Um, maybe the US. Since if you perform there, people will assume you’ve made it. Honestly, I have no preference as long as it’s a fun experience and I’m able explore other cultural music. Maybe having a jam session with Haitian musicians around the campfire by the beach would be cool.


Doors open Sunday, May 24 at 6pm and general entry is RM20 (RM15 for students) for the Hikayat Perawan Majnun finale showcase at RUANG, Shah Alam. There will also be an exhibition of artwork consisting of photos taken using disposable cameras, showcasing Takahara Suiko and gang’s adventures in Japan and also her collection of small canvases. The Venopian Solitude’s set kicks off at 8pm.

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