Bayangan Finds Light in the Shadow

A journey of self-discovery on this side of the world.

It creeped me out (honestly) when I first heard of the artist’s name Bayangan—which literally means ‘shadows’ in Malay. At the back of my mind, I thought the songs would be full of dark words, sung in a way that would give you goosebumps and nightmares. I mean, how could I have not ? The shadow is closely associated with darkness, and darkness equals to sorrow and despair, and ultimately, grief and pain.

And I was totally wrong. It turned out that I really liked most of the songs, namely “Gita/Malam”, “Cagaran Mimpi”, “Remaja”, and Kuala Lumpur.

Bayangan is the pseudonym of Fikri Fadzil. a singer-songwriter who views the shadow as a place that one should not be afraid of, especially when its our own. An honest, humble, and down to earth creative, Fikri Fadzil talked to us about his unique stage name and the recent debut album, Bersendirian Berhad.

First of all, what’s the story behind your stage name, Bayangan?

It’s about how we all have—not to say the darker side—but I think it’s really our shadow. In my case, I wanted to explore that part of our lives—or at least mine. The darker side of things, a bit of—you know—the sadness, things like that.

I think, to a certain extent, especially nowadays, people think that life is just about happiness. But the reality is sadness is part of lives too. So I am trying to focus on that and reminding myself that life is not always up there.

If you reach certain happiness, life will always try to figure out a way to balance it out. So you will experience the low as well. That’s essentially what Bayangan is all about.

Describe for us the first time you wrote a song.

I wrote for the first time when I was 14 or 15. Obviously, back then it was for a girl. It was the first Malay song that I properly wrote. Yeah, it was just to woo this girl lah. I think that was the first song I wrote.

But for Bayangan, the first song was this single that I wrote named Kuala Lumpur. Essentially, I wanted to write a song that reminds us not to give up, especially the people in Kuala Lumpur. It’s very tough to live in KL now. I think if you are not careful, the middle class in Malaysia will be destroyed.

We have friends who leave the country, friends who are like “Fuck KL, I just want to leave.” But if we do that, that just leaves a void for other people to abuse what Kuala Lumpur is.

Are there any artists that you look up to for inspiration?

Yes, of course. The singer-songwriter, Daniel Rossen. He plays in a band called Grizzly Bear. Another one is this guy named Rodrigo Amarante. He plays for a band called Little Joy as well, southern American. A couple of Indonesian singer-songwriters as well, there’s this guy named Bin Idris.

Bersendirian Berhad by Bayangan

Photo: Bayangan

You recently released a debut album called Bersendirian Berhad. Ho was the writing and recording process of the album?

It took me about a year and a half to write all the songs but some of the songs had already been released on Soundcloud as demos. I recorded everything myself here (in the studio house where I interviewed him).

Half of the songs I wrote came out naturally—you know—like I didn’t think about it. The melody would come to me first and then I just kind of use intuition for the lyrics. I’m still curious about how that could happen but that’s mainly the ropes of the writing process.

Which one is your favourite track from the album and why?

I don’t really have favourites because I think the songs will get “upset” with me. I think, “Remaja” and “Mekar”. Yeah, I enjoyed writing and playing them because I didn’t know that I could sing that way.

Essentially, what are you trying to convey to those who listen to your songs?

I try not to have a certain message because I think it should be open to how other people like to interpret it. Generally, the music palate is quite sad but I think if you kind of squint your ears, you can see there is still hope in that kind of sadness.

The songs—they have a storyline along the track listing. For example, after Remaja is this other song called Mekar. That’s when self-realisation takes places—you know—that actually, you don’t need external validation because everything is already within you.

What’s next?

I’m going on a three-weekend tour. Starting with Alor Star, then a couple of cities in Perak, Penang, Kuching, Kuantan, Melaka and lastly Singapore. After that, I will take a break, and then, hopefully if this first tour is a successful one, I will continue by trying to go to Indonesia or something like that.

Bayangan (Fikri Fadzil)
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Listen to Bersendirian Berhad by Bayangan here or catch him live—refer to the poster below:

Photo: Instagram (@_bayangan)
Basir Zainuddin

Basir Zainuddin

Of coffee, music, and sea breeze.
Basir Zainuddin

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