As a social-conscious artiste, Meor is vital voice.
He is a busker. A writer. A singer. A guitar player. A recording artiste. A father. A citizen. Meor Yusof Aziddin is all these things.
Some people know him as a Malay folk singer-songwriter who spent his early days busking at Central Market in Kuala Lumpur and who was even hauled up by the authorities for singing in the streets a few years ago.
Leading the pack: Meor is one of the headlining names at the KL Sing Song 2009 fest tomorrow.
Others, especially the younger generation of folk musicians and fans, have come to know this otai (old timer) because of his songs and his prolific career in music.
He is also known for being one of the earliest proponents of the underground folk scene, who shied away from the mainstream and made album-after-album with a tactician of a guerilla – lo-fi production and self-distribution.
The fringe has been Meor’s playground for years but instead of obscurity, the 41-year-old has discovered that the fringe, now more than ever, is the place to be.
It’s been an extremely productive year for Meor, who recently launched a new album, book and appeared in Rahmat Haron’s short film, Al-Fatehah Memali. Releasing an album is not unusual for Meor who already has six albums to his name.
Some of the more appreciated lyrics of our generation are those of Meor, including the stirring albums Itu Padang ... Aku DiSitu and Aku & Bulan.
This new album, however, is quite a departure for the folk artiste.
Entitled Dari Rakyat Untuk Rakyat (From The People For The People), it is Meor’s first electric effort complete with a backing band. The 10-track album is also socio-politically charged featuring lyrics by Hishamuddin Rais, Pyanhabib, Abdullah Jones and Rahmat Haron, among others.
“This is my biggest project to date,” said Meor in an interview.
“I asked my friends to contribute the lyrics and the themes are more about humanity than anything else. From there, I wrote the music for it and if they were happy with the accompanied music to their lyrics, then we kept the songs to be recorded later.”
The album was recorded at ISEEKMUSIC Studio in Subang Jaya, Selangor, in June. The studio belongs to Mokthar Rizal, the former drummer of Seven Collar T-Shirt who also served as Meor’s new album’s co-producer.
On the album, Meor took up duties for vocals, electric and acoustic guitar while the band consisted of Kunjai (bass), Ahmad Zahir (drums), Alia (keyboards) and Shafiq (cello).
“It’s great working with Mokhtar,” said Meor. “I am very happy with the album. It sounds really good for an independent production.”
Though the album is, as Meor described it, “politics for the people”.
The mood of the album is more humorous than serious. A fine example is the opening track I.S.A. (Ikut Suka Aku – loosely translated as Do As I Please), a mid-tempo reggae tune which questions the need for the Internal Security Act and the meaning of freedom.
It gets even funnier with the following track, Bapakku Seorang YB (My Father Is A VIP), which talks about corruption and cronyism.
Meor had already shown his knack for writing accompanying music to lyrics with his last album, Sakrat, which featured poems by Amirul Fakir.
He also contributed music to an anthology of A. Samad Said’s poems,Rindu Ibu, which he completed just before undertaking Dari Rakyat Untuk Rakyat.
Meor had started this project last year when he was based in Ipoh. He then relocated to Kuala Lumpur this year to concentrate fully on music and started his own events company, CRG-Communication, and began giving private guitar lessons.
“The new album is under CRG and it is fully independent. You won’t find my album in music retail shops. I am taking this opportunity to compete against the mainstream and to give buskers out there a chance to have their material recorded. My future plans with this company is to produce and publish music by buskers. I want to give buskers a chance,” said Meor about his company’s focus.
Besides music, other avenues have opened up for the singer-songwriter. Just last weekend, Meor’s book, Sembang Tepi Jalan, was officially launched and it consists of a series of articles he had written for the online portal, tokeikedai.net.my.
Meor also had time to star in the short film, Al-Fatehah Memali, directed by painter Rahmat Haron about the Memali incident in Kedah in 1985. He was contacted by Rahmat about a month ago and was asked to be part of the film.
“Rahmat is a fan and the short film uses my music. I play myself in the film and it’s about the journey we took to Memali and the songs written are dedicated to that incident.”
The short film was part of the recent Freedom Film Festival programme.
Meor, however, is unfazed by all the attention. Right now he is busy practising for the three-day KL Sing Song Festival 2009 which starts tonight at the Annexe Gallery, Central Market in Kuala Lumpur.
The fest, which features independent singer-songwriters, is now in its fifth year and Meor has been a constant participant since its inception.
“I’ve been performing there since it started and everytime they organise the festival, they invite me to play. The festival has grown over the years and it keeps getting bigger and bigger everytime. It’s such a major event now,” he said.
Meor takes the stage tomorrow night ... and as usual, without the fuss and hype.
> For a copy of Meor’s new album and book, contact 012-590 1798. Browse pestajiwa.net. Meor plays the KL Sing Song 2009 festival at the Annexe in Central Market, KL tomorrow night at 8.30pm.