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Echo Eats: Ranking Your Favorite Malaysian Childhood Snacks

Written by Samantha Chang // Bagai kacang melupakan kulit” – A person who forgets their origins or heritage.

Admittedly, I’m not as Malaysian as I would like to be. To paint a picture:
I recently went to a pasar malam and my first thought was “hygiene, much?”;
I know juuuust enough Malay to make small talk with a Grab driver (and I don’t know any of our other secondary languages); and
90% of the media I consume is Eurocentric to a degree.

SISA’s Valentine’s Night

Valentine’s Day is a special day to commemorate the bond between lovers, celebrated on the 14th of February. You can celebrate Valentine’s in countless ways, such as by going on a picnic date, watching a movie, or by going to a Valentine’s event where everyone, even the singles can have fun. Luckily, Sunway International Student Ambassador (SISA) hosted that event the night before Valentine’s Day in Sunway University’s Art Gallery.

Get to Know: Wanted Symphony

By Supriya Sivabalan and Fajar binti Benjamin

 

The ever-thriving local music scene that’s full of talented artists of all ages has been growing over the recent years as we watch the rise of many musical talents. Among them include Daniel, 29 and Ruben, 24 also known as Wanted Symphony.

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Daniel (left) and Ruben (right) are the current members of Wanted Symphony

Echo Media’s event team had the pleasure of interviewing this singer-songwriter duo who are about to release their new album this year on all digital platforms.

Having started the band roughly 8 years ago, the reputable name “Wanted Symphony”, was inspired by Daniel’s roots of being a classically trained pianist and his desire to create music you’d want to listen to. Originally a 5-piece rock band, once the other members decided to embark on different paths in life, Daniel (basically the Brendon Urie of Wanted Symphony) discovered Ruben while he was hosting his show Soundstruck. This was 2 years ago and the meeting almost seemed like destiny. Daniel heard Ruben performing and thought “damn, this Indian boy can sing!”. The rest is history. Here’s the scoop:

1. Tell us a bit about yourselves.

“Fun fact about me, I’m actually a qualified lawyer,” is not what you’d expect to hear from a band member’s mouth. A man of many talents, Daniel is classically trained in piano and self-taught in two other instruments, namely the drums and guitar. Smiling fondly, he recounts, “I had the typical tiger mom, I got forced into piano lessons from the age of 4.”

Ruben on the other hand, turned down the classical training his parents put him into for guitar. “At that age I was 7, I wasn’t really interested in it. So, I stopped classes after a year”. Luckily for us, at age 14 he became interested again but by then, his parents didn’t want to send him for classes anymore so he taught himself, only really starting to sing a couple of years after that. His first open mic was at the age of 19 and he slowly worked his way from there.  

2. Who are your biggest inspirations?

“I’m happy because I can go back to my roots”, says Daniel. This artist is proud to say that he is now able to reflect his influences in his music today. As a songwriter, Daniel takes inspiration from songwriters who produce soulful music with meaning like Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars. In terms of style, he looks toward artists like Alicia Keys, Brian McKnight, John Mayer and Labrinth. Ruben, on the other hand, leans towards pop-punk music with a tinge of rock where All Time Low, Simple Plan and 3 doors down are among his largest inspirations.

3. What is the name of your album and how many tracks are on it?

(Mischievously) “We’re not going to tell you that, but there are 11 tracks on the album. Maybe some bonus ones too. Who knows?”

4. What is the main message you wish to convey through the release of this album?

“Hey we’re here, we’ve been around. This is the showcase of our work over the years, a reflection of the journey with the band.” The duo wishes to spread love and positivity through the genuineness of their music, full of songs about life, love and the girls who broke their hearts.

Although we try prying deeper into the sound and genre of this album, or even the instruments played, the duo remains very secretive. “We’re keeping it a surprise but trust me when I say this” Daniel confidently states, “It’s not going to sound like everything else that’s out there.”

They also mention an upcoming collaboration with local artist Nadhirah. They will be working together on a couple of tunes – something that everyone can look forward to dropping soon.

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Wanted Symphony performing at Artbox last year

5. What are some of the biggest challenges in producing this album?

The two were very quick to say “timing”. This is actually the third time Daniel has tried to produce this album. “There’s a reason why in 8 years we have not produced a full-length album”, he clarifies. “Besides the obvious initial hiccups we had with the band lineup, we decided to take our time to hone our craft so that we can now proudly say that this is who we are, and this is our identity in music.” Wanted Symphony really took the time and effort to understand the type of music they wish to put out and are now eagerly waiting to release this well-crafted masterpiece.

6. Is it a challenge specifically to have only two members in your band?

Daniel jokes about how it’s fewer mouths to feed before addressing again, the timing issue. “There are some bands who have 4, 5 even 8 members and I honestly don’t know how they do it. Even to get 5 guys in the same room is a challenge”. He explained that between him and Ruben, there is a lot more freedom to get creative as there are only two musical tastes to cater to.

7. Wanted Symphony mentioned that there is currently a transition from their old music genre and that they “want to slowly start feeding our (their) new genre to people.” Why this transition of music genre?

“Daniel gets bored playing 4 chords”, mentions bandmate Ruben. The band wanted to revert to writing more meaningful and technical songs that are true to their roots. “Songs that can show off what I can do as a vocalist and, now that Ruben is involved, show off what he can do with the guitar and his voice.”

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If you’re talented and you know it clap your hands!

They currently do a lot of harmonies when it comes to their songs. However, anyone interested can look up their old music on SoundCloud and YouTube while the newer songs will be streamed on Spotify and other online platforms once they drop.

8. What are your biggest aspirations for the band?

Daniel is pretty content with the extent of Wanted Symphony. “You know,” he says wistfully, “we’ve done pretty much everything, except the album.” If anything, Daniel intends to bring Ruben to experience what he did back in the day since the 24-year-old relative newbie to the scene is looking to perform for bigger audiences and larger shows and maybe even perform internationally which is something he never really had a chance to do during his solo career.

9. In Malaysia, where is your favourite place to play your music?

“KL!” (Kuala Lumpur), Daniel answers with no hesitation. They also enjoy playing in Penang due to the responsive crowd. However, a combination of the best crowd, stage and sound system is all in KL according to the duo.

10. How do your families feel about your music?

Both their parents are not opposed to the dreams of the duo. Ruben even mentions that his family is pretty supportive of his journey in the music industry but does want him to have a degree to fall back on. (“So if receiving an award, would you go on stage thanking your family for being your biggest supporters?” we ask. Daniel immediately laughs his no but Ruben considers that he would).

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Eyes closed and soul bared

11. What do you have to say about your current following?

With a consistent following over the past few years, Wanted Symphony says that “the fun part about being in a band for such a long time is you can see your fans grow with you”. Daniel started the band in college and is currently a working adult now. According to him, the fans who have stuck by them since the beginning have all grown too thus they receive a variety of gigs these days including many corporate shows.

12. Is there anything you wish to say to our readers?

“Support our local artists. We’re all humans and we all want to make a name for ourselves. Check out local artists, there’s an abundance of talent out there – bands who have been around for a long time and bands who have come out.” He also mentions many potential employers expect they won’t have to pay artists to perform. There is a challenge for local English artists in terms of international competition and aiming to be different. The music industry is tough to break into as the music produced must be on par with other music in rotation. “Nowadays, local artists have stepped up their game”, says Daniel and encourages everyone to have a listen.

13. Do you have a message for your fans?

The gratitude they have goes without saying. “I know people who have followed the band for 8 years and for that, I’m really grateful.” As for those who have not heard of Wanted Symphony, the two do not expect you to become a fan overnight. All these guys want is to be given the benefit of the doubt, for people to listen to their music and come to their shows.


Wanted Symphony has dropped an EP in 2014 and also released a few singles which took off well and were played on the radio, used in short films and even in clubs!

The duo is an extremely fun pair who have learnt a lot from each other considering the gap in experience and age. Ruben mentions that he has developed his vocal skills through many tips and tricks he picked up from Daniel and Daniel has expanded his music library through Ruben’s different influences in music.

Their album will be available for streaming in Spotify, iTunes and every other digital platform sometime in May. If you are interested in catching them live, then follow them @wantedsymphony on Instagram or Wanted Symphony on Facebook for updates.

The Power of Red

source

Written by Ng Li Wei

 

It’s a time for celebration. The streets are ablaze with bright lanterns. Shopping centres are competing for the unofficial prize of Best Decorated. Generic festive songs are blasting from every radio and speaker in existence. Thousands of cars flock in and out of the city, some doing last minute shopping, some leaving for their hometowns. Car alarms are set off and neighbours kept awake as an array of fireworks dot the night sky.

It’s a time for family. For the Chinese, this means reunion dinners that allow children to stay past midnight. Gatherings that bring family members together from all over the country. Tossing yee sang – a Cantonese-style raw fish salad – and engaging in light gambling with cards or mahjong is a surefire tradition.

And more than ever, it’s a time for red. Red lights strung on outdoor walls. Red ang pow packets concealing money, waiting to be given out. Red spring couplets (chūn lián) pasted on the front door. Red clothes on the first day of visiting relatives – because God forbid if you show up in any other colour.

Whenever Chinese New Year comes up, the first thing brought to mind is the colour red. It has become a representation of Chinese culture, proudly paraded around during Chinese New Year. Interestingly enough, another celebration that also embraces red is to coincide with CNY this year – Valentine’s Day. These two events are particularly related to red, yet in both cases the colour is associated with completely different meanings and symbolisms.

Red, in the Asian or, more specifically, Chinese sphere of the world, is generally recognised as a good colour. It indicates good fortune, prosperity, and success – all terms that sound particularly uplifting from a business standpoint. It is also considered a lucky colour, hopefully able to bring not only the individual but also their family more luck and wealth.

Red is such an important and significant colour in Chinese culture. China’s flag is coloured red. In the past, the emperor used to issue decrees stamped with red ink. Traditional weddings had the bride and groom dressed in red from head to toe, even coating their bedroom with red cloth. Red hard-boiled eggs are eaten on a baby’s one month birthday. Throughout history and to this day, red remains a proud, defining characteristic of the Chinese culture.

The symbolism of red came from an old myth that concerns CNY as well: every year on CNY, a beast called Nian would emerge to feed on villagers and their livestock. The people soon discovered that Nian was terrified of the colour red and loud noises, and therefore began using red lanterns and red firecrackers to scare away the beast. Once the evil spirits and beasts were warded away, only then could good things enter the household. The colour then evolved from being a warning and a scare tactic to a symbol of fortune and prosperity. The tradition of hanging red lanterns and playing with red firecrackers – especially deafening ones lit on the first day of CNY – continued to be passed down from generation to generation.

Another reason red specifically symbolises fortune and prosperity is due to the Chinese culture’s strong fixation with money. If you were to ask anyone of the older generation about the validity of this statement – believe me, I speak from experience – they will say that yes, money can and will buy you happiness. The wealthy are the more well-off. (In hindsight, they’re not wrong.) Embedded in their mandatory shouts as they toss the yee sang are wishes for tsunamis of money to flood through their doors. It is seen as the foundation of their family-centric society. Money is required for everything – starting a family, adequately supporting that family, improving the lives of that family – and the Chinese have integrated that prevalent mindset into their most defining colour.

In stark contrast to how the Chinese culture perceives the colour red comes the Western interpretation. Red, in the Western sphere of the world, has dual meanings – it’s seen as both a good and a bad colour. On the good side of the fence is the red of romance, passion, and desire. On the bad side comes the red of anger, danger, and violence. Again, two very polarised viewpoints of the same colour.

The Western idea of red can embody every emotion ranging from love to hate. Red roses given to a lover on Valentine’s Day. Red lipstick marks on a note stuck to someone’s locker. Doodles of red hearts surrounding a name in the corner of a textbook page. But also – red stains on your vision as you charge toward your sister’s bully. Red alarms of an ambulance flashing and speeding down an empty street. Red blood gushing out of an open wound.

Red is known to evoke positive – mostly romantic – feelings due to it being the colour of the heart and blood and, more specifically, their connection with the scientific results of love. Seeing someone you’re attracted to causes a stimulated, accelerated pumping of the heart, increasing your blood pressure. As blood gushes underneath the surface of the skin, the person would appear to be flushed or blushing – red. Naturally, the colour began being associated with the emotion. Studies found that red can heighten a person’s attraction to the other, for example a man being more drawn to a woman wearing red clothing.

Similarly, red can also stir negative emotions, namely from the sight of substances like blood. Red is the colour we see when we are wounded. In pain. Crying. Screaming. It brings up jarring images of gore, of violence, and of death, all very much unpleasant things. Subsequently, red came to be a sign of warning. Its striking hue further intensifies its power as an effective warning symbol – bright and ominous at the same time. Red in traffic lights warns cars to stop moving on the road. Red dripping from your nose warns you that your body’s not well.

Two halves of the world; two separate cultural traditions; two respective mindsets. All of which can be represented through contrasting views of a single colour.

Travel Destination: Freycinet National Park

We all know that when we talk about Australia, we’ll bring up places like the Sydney Opera House, the Twelve Apostles, Melbourne City Centre, the massive Uluru rock, and the stunningly beautiful Great Barrier Reef. These five national icons attract the lion’s share of its millions of tourists, and have graced the faces of about an equally large number of postcards sold each year.

Hands

Image Source

Written by Rachel Goh

Five fingers
on each hand
make ten


yet, still,
they
fall short
of reaching


the cookie jar on the topmost shelf
the eraser in the nook between wall and desk
and
the hands extended to you
over the railing


your eyes say you’re tired
you’ve had enough
you want to let go
and
the wind tugs at your feet
tantalising,
promising
an eternal rest


yet, still,
these hands,
five fingers on each making ten,
seize and,
cling
on to that lifeline


you stretch a hand up


ten fingers,
five on each,
fall short
in the end