When did you discover your talent for playing the keyboard?
I started from a pretty young age. I remember by 6 years old I was always practising playing on the piano before school. Actually, my family doesn’t have a musical background, so I was fortunate my parents got a piano since they wanted us to learn music, though I am the only one of my siblings who stuck with it. Of course I had formal lessons – at first home schooled with a teacher from Contessa Music School, and then I moved to La Strad Musique.
How did your musical career develop to where you are today?
I would say I got lucky. My training was initially in classical music, though I have played various styles of music over the years, with metal probably being my favourite genre in my pre-teens. It helped having learned classical techniques, especially with the first band I joined, Irama Bahtera, who played traditional music. The keyboard isn’t a local instrument, so I would often just play back up to the main melody being performed on the ‘gulingtangan’. Over time, the band developed and added more Western instruments, such as the bass and has now grown to 11 members as of today.
Can you tell us about some of the performances and successes the band has had?
One of my highlights was a ‘gambus’ (oud, a traditional instrument) competition in Labuan in 2014, 2015 and recently September 2016. There were 5 bands playing, all really good, but we were the only group from Brunei. We felt a lot of pressure as the only non-Malaysian band there and were fortunate enough to win. Apart from that, we mostly perform at weddings and corporate events in Brunei, even birthdays… all sorts really. It’s great because we get to mix up traditional music, wedding songs, and even some modern ones too. I also went to an arts festival in Korea last year, thanks to the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sports, where I had the opportunity to play with many artists from all over Asia.
It was great as it covered all sorts of art. So we played our music, accompanied by dancers and other performers and surrounded by art installations.
How about some of the challenges, especially in playing traditional music?
Of course it takes a lot of time to master these types of songs. Sometimes I have to listen to the melody of the song ‘gambus’, and work out how to recreate the song with the piano without losing the essence of the traditional song. It is definitely harder than modern music like pop. Also, traditional songs generally have a different ‘feel’ compared to other songs like pop or rock, so it’s really about developing your skills to be able to learn and improvise just from listening.
What are your personal aspirations and future plans for the band?
I am happy to play and be part of the band – I don’t aim to be front stage. I guess I am more like a session musician. As long as I can get to play with interesting and well-known artists, I’m happy with that. Thankfully I get calls here and there to perform with different groups. For the big picture, I am currently studying for my Masters in Education and would love to eventually open my own music school. As far as the band goes, well, one day we’d really like to properly record our music. We have some original arrangements, and each of us has our own compositions that we would like to get out on the radio and raise awareness for the group.
Wanna find out more about Qay?
Check out his IG: @qmuzini
or drop him an email at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org