Local singer Asmidar brought traditional Malay music to Seoul

by - 15:11

Asmidar may have gone under the radar in the last few years but she is, in fact, still actively singing.

The 31-year-old singer, who was previously signed to Warner Music, hasn’t released any new material since her 2013 album Kali Pertama.

“When I was with Warner Music, they always made sure I had projects. After finishing my contract with Warner, I focused more on doing shows than coming up with new songs,” Asmidar says.

In fact, Asmidar recently returned from performing overseas. She spent a week singing traditional Malay numbers at this year’s Asia Song Festival in Seoul, South Korea.

“I performed Mustika, Ghazal Untuk Rabiah and Ala Donde Si Donde with the Gyeonggi Provincial Traditional Orchestra. When our local songs were combined with Korean instruments, it was really magical to hear,” she recalls.

“And the appreciation the audience had for traditional songs, not just from our country but others as well, was unbelievable. While we’re singing, they’d stand up and clap their hands.”

Asmidar says it’s a wonderful feeling being able to represent Malaysia abroad: “I’m proud of myself. Although I’m not one of the top singers in Malaysia, there are people who appreciate me outside of Malaysia. And I’m honoured to be able to showcase my culture overseas.”

At just 12, Asmidar got her start singing the traditional Malay song, Jasa Pak Tani, for RTM.

As a teenager, she joined numerous singing competitions, most notably, Bintang RTM in 2001. The then 15-year-old beat Misha Omar and Siti Sarah to place second (after Azharina Azhar).

She made a resurgence in 2011 after winning another singing competition, Vokal … Bukan Sekadar Rupa.

Presently, Asmidar just recorded Ceria Di Hari Raya for Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s ad, Dugaan Raya.

“It was my first time singing for a TV commercial, and indeed, the experience was different from recording a song for an album. Your interpretation has to be more theatrical.

“And although the song is shorter, just two minutes, the recording process took quite a long time. I’m used to singing sad ballads and since this is a Raya song, they wanted to hear me happy.”

Up ahead, Asmidar is looking at churning out new material, though no release date has been set yet.

“I have four songs in mind. Because I started out with traditional songs, I want to go back to that. There will be a traditional approach to my new songs. It could be a pop song but with traditional and Nusantara elements.”

Asmidar says she is aware that the local mainstream market may not be as receptive to traditional songs but wants to gradually change perceptions.

“I hope with what I’m doing, injecting these traditional sounds bit by bit, people will also love it bit by bit.”

Asked how she feels about making a comeback after going quiet for some time, she responds: “It’s good that I’ve taken that time (away from the spotlight), so that people can forget about the old Asmidar and get to know the new Asmidar.”

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