Learning about Alvin MY, the official EP launch at Venetian Club

Alvin MY’s official launch of his Extended Play (EP) compact disc entitled “Learning You” was a great night.

Mike and I sat at the bar in the Vino Lounge at the Venetian Club, for a good view of the stage. Within minutes we learned the bartender was himself a drummer, and his brother was a member of W.O.R.M. Geez, there are a lot of musical people in Sabah, I swear!

Alvin MY is talented, he works hard, and he modestly says he wants to learn more about music and grow. He says that’s the double meaning behind the EP title “Learning You”, although it is also a love song. Why wouldn’t he be supported by friends, family and musicians, to genuinely celebrate his first solo offering?

This Dusun native – he calls himself ‘The Ranau Boy’ on his blog – is a singer, songwriter and music producer, coming into his own after success as a member of vocal band Infinatez, among his many projects.

The night was well organised by Richado Tawith’s event management and production company Cado Creatives, with the Daily Express and two radio stations in attendance , 088-fm and Utara.fm. There was some meaningful discussion about support for Sabah entertainers and the state of the music industry here, particularly relating to singers, from the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, YB Datuk Masidi Manjun.

The emcee Azlan Abdullah was friendly and professional, interacting with people both on and off the stage, and moving the schedule of events along nicely.

Alvin showed his versatility as a performing musician in his opening set. He sang tracks from “Learning You”, supported by homegrown musicians Damian Paul on keyboards, Andalusia members Zizie on guitar and Lazman on drums, and that slap-happy bass player Timothy Tang 🙂   Alvin later said the Andalusia guys were so kind to support him despite being tired after performing earlier that day at 1Borneo, in RTM’s Carta Lagu Artis Sabah. I believe Andalusia won an award there.

Alvin and the guys filled the night with soul and R&B; in the corner of my eye I could see the JADE Sisters plus a cousin grooving on the side seats there, thoroughly enjoying the skills of their local hero. Alvin did a version of Stevie Wonder’s ‘My Cherie Amour’, and characteristically walked among the audience, ending up dancing with JADE sister, Joan. Keeping jazz fans happy too, Alvin included some scatting and a take on L.O.V.E.

After the press conference and photo shoot, there was a wonderful moment, where Alvin filled in time before his guests came on stage. He played an acoustic guitar, and performed “Learning You” solo. It was so quiet and personal.

Alvin said he writes a song to express his feelings, and hopes his song will reach and move someone. The melody comes from his heart and he hopes his songs apply to everyone.  He talked, sang and made simple chord changes.  I could imagine him sitting in a room, working out a new song.  Creativity is a solo experience. Ultimately, there is only you and your inspiration. No legislation, or even money, can find that for you.

Alvin said he wanted to give two friends a chance to reach us with their songs. These were Clinton Liew and Hezron G. Koro. Clinton had a gentle, breathy voice. Hezron had a wide vocal range and was another guy from Ranau! What is it about Ranau!!   Mike reminded me that there is a band from Ranau that will play in the pre-KK Jazz fringe festival this year too.  It must be something in the Ranau water! Both Alvin’s guests had recently been in Bandwidth’s Open Mic session at Shenanigan’s as well.

Several presentations were made to the event’s sponsors, including to Venetian’s representative May Yong.  During the press conference, Datuk Masidi Manjun made observations about the local music industry, and Alvin spoke about his own music development.

088-fm asked the Datuk whether there was anything to be done for local artists, so they wouldn’t feel like they had to go to KL to “make it big”. The Datuk said it was a good question, but sometimes he thinks our singers tend to be naive about promises of being a star in KL. “It’s easier said than done,” he said.

Sabahans must to a certain extent expect some form of discrimination in KL, he said. Sabahans are as talented, and some are even better than those in KL, but people there will favour their own first, because it is natural to pay more attention to those you know over those who are strangers, he added.

He said we have not done enough in Sabah to really support our own artists; we should not be distracted by trivial things like a bad haircut or unfashionable clothing, otherwise we are missing the real point which is to see the true talent in our local artist and give them the opportunity to shine. In Indonesia, he said, the singers are successful because the people of Indonesia are very nationalistic. They give full support to their artists.

As another example, the Datuk said there are probably about 30 or 40 government departments in Sabah, and occasionally people will organise a function that needs singers. But often they seem to prefer non-Sabahan singers rather than local singers. You have to ask, Why?

He said local performers need to strive to prove that it’s worth taking them rather than a singer from KL, for instance. There are some singers in Sabah who have reached that level. His department does invite AF singers, but they must be Sabahans, he said. “I’m not being discriminatory to other singers, but I think we have to look after our own people first.

“I personally choose the songs that I like them to sing. That’s our condition: You learn this song. If you can, then by all means come. Whatever you ask, we’ll give you. If you can’t sing this song, I’m sorry to say, we won’t invite you.”

He said the ministry is continuously looking for ways to encourage people here to source for local performers. But he added that —  as much as he was reluctant to say it —  sometimes in Sabah, the singers are too lazy to improve themselves. In his opening speech he had mentioned how Sabahans had a lot of natural talent, but had to work hard to improve their professionalism. They had to broaden their repertoire and learn more songs. He said the competing Filipinos work hard to learn the new popular songs, and he cited qualities such as being punctual and reliable, as values our performers have to realise are important.

I asked Alvin about his plans for the future. He said he’s learning music theory with Andrew Peninting, to know more about writing good songs. He said being a singer and songwriter, without any formal education, is actually blocking him from becoming a more dynamic musician. As an example, he said when he plays in these bands with professional musicians, they all speak with music language. While he says, “Okay let’s start from the chorus,” they would say, “Okay, start from A.”

“So I need to learn that, to cope with the musicians, and with the music industry as well; as a singer, a songwriter and as a producer.”

With that kind of attitude, your horizons are limitless, Alvin. All the best.

Spotted in the audience that night were Moses de Silva, Arthur E Lee, Lester Miol, Peter Peninting, Dayang Noraini, Jonathan Tse and Atama.



The album can be ordered thru FB and online. Those who are familiar with BBKK products can also order it via BBKK or thru me.

They can directly email me at defoosoul@gmail.com to order. We will post it to them. It is RM10 not including handling and mailing cost.

Or they can contact my BBKK partner Andy who’s name in FB is “Gurangak Corner”. This is especially to those who are in KL. The BBKK Team will also be selling my CD at Kaamatan events in klang Valley this May.

The CD is also available thru one of Infinatez group member, his name in FB is “Rafiq Infinatez”. Rafiq and friends from the company QARISMATIQ Records are helping me out to promote this CD in KL.

I will also update when the CD is available at all Nasi Ayam Antarabangsa branches in the very near future.


The sponsors for the official launch of the EP “Learning You” by Alvin MY were:

Venetian Club, Kota Kinabalu

Nasi Ayam Antarabangsa

Putra Tech Enterprise

Mega Boogie Sdn Bhd






  1. Tourism, Culture & Environment Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Datuk Suzannah Liaw said in a message to SabahSongs:

    “What you have written reflects the local scenario. We are doing our best to encourage the local entertainment outlets to hire local siingers and musician but they themselves must make an effort to be current and have a wide repertoire of songs and also able to market themselves.”

  2. Great article!

    I agree that there are many talented Sabahan singers but they don’t necessarily understand what their voices are doing. The difference between a singer and a vocalist is that a vocalist understands what he/she is doing. When we understand what to do with our voices, how to produce different types of sounds, and are able to work on diction, articulation, intonation and phrasing, then we can start to become more attractive than other countries/states.

    I believe that Datuk Masidi has a real heart for the musicians and singers of Sabah, and that’s probably why he has hired me to work for the Sabah Culture Board. Next week I will be taking the musicians and dancers of the Sabah Culture Board through a week of Beginners Vocal Technique, which I hope will be the first of many ways that the skills of Sabahan singers will be improved.

  3. Sigh…Don’t you just hate double standards? Give us a chance man!. Of course, some of us have to work on our work ethics, punctuality and reliability. Who will call you again when you don’t show any sense of urgency?

  4. Dusun rapper ATAMA KATAMA made a full response to this topic in a Facebook note here:

    Posted by Atama Katama on Tuesday, May 4, 2010

  5. ATAMA made a good comment.

    I guess we’ll just have to see what the future brings, and take it one step at a time.

    What I’d like to see in the future is that Sabahans with talent not only make it in Sabah, but in the international music scene. Roger Wang has already shown us that this is possible.

    The biggest markets for purchasing music is the US, Japan and the UK followed by France and Germany. My experiment is to focus on selling digital albums and physical CDs to these countries. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks time, my music should be on iTunes in all those places, and within a year, I’ll be able to see if the experiment worked.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s