In conjunction with Hari Gawai, Alena Murang released the video for her latest song Warrior Spirit.
Produced by the same team behind her award-winning Midang Midang music video, here’s a look at the stunning masterpiece performed by Alena Murang.
We managed to speak to Alena Murang who shared a bit more on the production of the video and how she has been faring during the lockdown.
1. What made you initially pick up the sape which set you on your musical journey?
I started playing the sape over 20 years ago. Back then my female cousins and I were practising the traditional dance which is accompanied by music from the sape. And we only had one CD with limited music on it, and there were not a lot of masters around that would play for us. So initially we decided to pick it up because we wanted to be more creative, we wanted to do more in terms of choreography and we didn’t realise it was quite a big deal for girls to be learning the sape.
There were seven of us girls who learnt the instrument. One of them is Claudillea Holloway, who got a lot of attention from The Voice UK, so she’s still into music, but she focuses more on pop and opera now. The rest aren’t actively playing, except for my cousin Emma, who sometimes works with me.
2. How has the pandemic affected your creative process?
Well, the first ever lockdown last year was good for me creatively, but just before that I was travelling so much, to the point that my home in KL was just like a transit space – I never had the time or the headspace to create new things.
So the first MCO I was writing a lot, and I managed to finish my album, so actually it was quite good.
3. What about in terms of meeting your family?
I usually return to Sarawak once every six weeks, prior to the pandemic, so not being able to do that was very weird – especially because a lot of my inspiration and influence is from Sarawak.
Plus, I couldn’t get to see my parents, so yea it was quite hard, and that was my first Christmas away from my parents in Kuching.
4. Tell us a little bit about your album
We released the album at the end of April 2021, but that was just the physical release, and it was made available end of May 2021 digitally.
Sky Songs has eight tracks on it, all of which are inspired by elements of the sky – so we have songs on stars, moon, thunder, the wind and such. It wasn’t something I did consciously, only when I started putting it together did I realise that it was all about the sky.
And when I think about it, my co-writer, who’s also my cousin, and I were researching old stories which spoke of our ancestors who used to live in the skies, so I guess it carried forward and materialised in the songs we created after.
And I think musically it’s quite different from my previous albums, we have influences from rock, Celtic music, blues, indigenous Taiwanese music, and such. My band mates also come from different disciplines, so it’s a very new sound.
Oh also, I’m honoured that Sky Songs has been nominated at the Summer Solstice Indigeous Music Awards Canada for the International Indigenous Artist- Group Recording of the Year category.
5. Share a bit about the video for Warrior Spirit
It’s an instrumental song which is quite rock, and its inspired by our Dayak ancestors, who were warriors. We kind of interpreted it as the meditation of the warrior on the morning before battle, as he watches the mist rising. Even though that’s died out already, we still have that spirit of the warrior with us. And the music video also shows a stronger, more creative side of me.
We shot the video in a number of locations in Selangor like Kuala Kubu Bharu and Pulau Indah. While it took three days to produce, it was difficult, because we could only shoot around lockdowns and such. We started shooting mid-October last year, and we only finished towards the end of February 2021.
Find out more about Alena Murang and her art via her website.