Seasoned music photographer Ahmad ‘Cipoi’ Saiful has launched a book called Sedekad Rock ‘N’ Roll to take fans of Malaysian rock’n’roll circa 2006 – 2016 on a trip down memory lane. The only question we’re asking you now is, why haven’t you bought it?
Remember the days when print music journalism was truly alive? When magazine racks in your 7-Eleven and kedai runcits had ROTTW, Junk, etc? AND they were actually selling? If you grew up reading those magazines – where you’ve sneaked them into your school bags to show to your friends, or read them in your bed before you sleep – you probably developed a sense of appreciation for the importance of visual storytelling in music.
The proof is found in the band posters you own, or the old album art on the CDs and casettes you own. Music would be empty without the talent of photographers. Any music scene is a soulless drab of (only) hedonism and self-indulgence without the passionate people documenting them – and Cipoi is one of the pioneering examples of these people.
With Adly Syairi’s #ProjekBuku filling the spot of music journalism history by compiling writings from people in the scene, Sedekad Rock ‘N’ Roll’ completes it with the visual side of things.
On winging ridiculous ambitions
As stated in his foreword, Cipoi never thought he’d be a photographer, let alone a music photographer. But his love for music became the spark that led the way into what he curently does best, especially the underground and independent scene namely bands like ACAB, Butterfingers, Carburator Dung, Project AK or international nu metal bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot.
“I only learned to take picures from my friends and I was guided by foreign magazines like Revolver, Kerrang! and the techniques of their photographers”, said Cipoi in his foreword.
“Back then in Malaysia, I did not have anyone to look up to as a reference or to mentor me in the field of music photography, so I just winged it while visualizing how a picture from an international photographer would look like”.
“Besides that, I was also lucky to be surrounded by friends and family that always supported whatever I was doing (even though sometimes my ambition to become the best music photographer in Malaysia was ridiculous!)”.
As evident in the book launch that happened last Saturday, Cipoi’s ‘ridiculous’ ambition came true. The people that came to celebrate his achievement were from all over the independent and underground music scene; Wing Meng, Noh Salleh, Irfan Iskandar (Cipan), Nas-T, Edwin Raj (Toko Kilat, They Will Kill Us All, currently head of content at GOASEAN), Azlan Rudy Malik (Pop Shuvit drummer and CEO of iM4u), and probably a lot more people that escaped our line of sight that night. The band lineup during the launch also had evergreen iconic bands such as Couple, Pesawat, Restraint, Incarnation and Against Infinity.
The truest testament to Cipoi’s success however will always be his photos. It’s clear that the book was put together with painstaking effort and unmatched meticulousness (Editor’s Note: The book is edited by Smek of Killeur Calculateur), detailing the essence of your nostalgia as you flip through pages of local bands you’re familiar with; doesn’t mater that your exposure to the scene was through satisfying but exhausting nights at small punk rock venues, big Rock The World stages or because you watched Kami – they’re all there. From Yuna all the way to They Will Kill Us All.
#IndieTakkanMati: In music and photography
That’s what’s so mind-boggling about the book. They’re all there. It’s almost out-of-this-world how comprehensive it is. Artists from all across the spectrum of Malaysian (and occasionally international) local music finds a home in the book. And they’re more than just pictures.
As Cipoi walks you through those ten years, he tells you stories behind some of the more interesting pictures and imparts knowledge about how to become a competent music photographer – which could possibly inspire more people to follow in his footsteps, continuing the legacy, carrying the banner of #IndieTakkanMati with not just pride,but also practicality.
Although some of these pictures look like they are made for glossier paper for big coffee table books, the fact that it’s paperback means that it’s easier to bring around (like a portable nostalgia machine) and that it could be sold for cheaper – so that you don’t have to be rich to own a piece of history.
At risk of dwelling too much into the ‘golden age’ or ‘the good old days’, it’s important to remind ourselves that the
scene is still alive and kicking, with music journalists – visual or written – eager to take up the mantle of those before them. What’s more important is that we remember to honour those who did it when nobody else was really doing it. This book does not spell the end of Cipoi’s career, who will still be continuing on with other project: it does however spell the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.
Jennifer Thompson, prominent event manager & music industry activist, notes in the foreword of Sedekad Rock ‘N’ Roll: “I am sure that everyone who sees these photos will be attracted to the history behind every moment photographed. Whenever you feel moved by these photos, realize that you are experiencing the power of a master visual storyteller. We should all be thankful that there exists a man as dedicated, talented and as passionate as him”.