If Not Bro Langau, Who Else?
Bro Langau was born in Sandakan May 5 1978. Married with 2 sons aged 6 and 7, they now live in Kinarut. After secondary school at St Joseph, Papar, Bro went to work.
“My first job is working in a fast food restaurant, Sugar Bun fast food, for five years to 2001. But I needed to transfer from Sandakan to KK, because my late dad was not very well, and I wanted to be near my family.” The jobs available were not well paying, but Bro tried his luck interviewing with a mapping consultant. “I got no experience, but I just try. The boss said, ‘I know your dad, he’s sick, right?’ I said ‘Yes’. He said, ‘I try you’.
He offered me RM600, I said, ‘No problem for me’ even though it was half my previous salary. This was my challenge, to change my profession from the kitchen to be involved in something different. “I started on mapping. For one month, I had to do manual drawings using the technical pen, 0.1, 0.2, drawing very tiny grid lines. I didn’t do any field work. After that, I got my confirmation, and they increased my salary.
Like many people, Bro’s work took a hit with the economic downturn, and he was retrenched. “Me and my wife were crying, because I’m the leader of my family, you know?” After a a year in a government statistical job, Bro landed a mapping job, which was a turning point for him. “The company does mapping for the environment. Who will use us? For example, a company which is tendering for a government project might need a map to outline the area and landscape, to be included in their proposal.“
He has worked there ever since.
“In September 1, 2009, I joined my first online music community. It was a West Malaysian one called MalaynetFM. I was bored listening to RTM. I knew nothing about online radio, I wanted to learn about it. I clicked. When I requested a song, they played it and said my name! The response was fast, and I felt connected with the radio station and that they appreciated me even though I’m only a Chatter.”
Soon Bro met other online listeners living in KK, and eventually the station asked him to join them.
“They [Malaynet] got to know me using Yahoo Messenger. They asked me to be a DJ. I used SHOUTcast, a very minimal software. It links with Winamp. They trained me 2-3 days, then I was on for 3 weeks on the training server, and then on to the live server.
“I was just like a DJ, every day from 9pm to 12. Of course we were excited. In the day I still worked my job. “I had to make my own identity, because DJs on air have their own background song. Their identifier. Of course, I’m from Sabah, so I wanted to use a Sabah song. I put Atama’s songs, so when when they hear it they say, ‘Ah this one is Sabah DJ’. “First 2-3 months I was on the live server, lots of Sabahan people listened to my show. I just invite my family and friends – just click and you will hear my voice. They ask me to play Hindi songs, because I got Indian blood. My dad is Indian and my mum is from Brunei. I played anything on that station.”
But then Bro ran into language obstables.
“After six months they got a new producer. I still remember his words, ‘It’s not a Sabahan radio’. Because I’m talking in Sabahan. He said, What is NDAK? For us, NDAK is NO. Seems like TIDAK, but it’s Sabahan. KAU is you, for Sabahan it’s normal, but for them it’s very rude. Then 2 or 3 times, when I’m on air, they will ask me to stop. “My friends said, ‘No need to go on air over there, we will just make our own Sabahan radio’. That’s the start of it. “We took 2 to 3 days surfing the web for Sabahan websites, then we found Sabahan.net. At that time, the followers on the forum were only over 1,000. A little less than 2,000, I met the founder, Abang Lang. They worked hard with me to make a proper server, and then April 4th 2009, we managed to set up SabahanFM.
“In the day, they play music from a randomized autorun, then at night, it’ll be my time. 9pm to 12 midnight for three months. I was so tired. I said, ‘Boss we need to take new DJs’. He said, ‘Okay. You train them’. We trained Jason, Ayu Stitch and Iter Sylvester for 2-3 days, then they made their own style. Later we trained DJ Black, DJ Sumandak [cousin of Joanna Rampas].”
Bro Langau picked indie demos as his identifier music.
“The new DJs with us, Jason, Ayu and Iter, they got their own identity. Jason and Iter promote KadazanDusun music, and Ayu promotes solo women singers. But me, I got no local identity. The demos was my way. I thought, why not? We got local bands why not promote them?
“My first stuff from Indie bands was from The Frontman Company. That was the first demo I ever played! Then I learned about a couple of bands from them. It was difficult to locate band, because Facebook was not that big at the time.
“Then one day at work, my boss asked me to send a report to a government office in Asia City. Afterwards I went to Moe’s Music. The person said, ‘We don’t have any stuff here, but try to get some from Wave, another jamming studio’. They give me some names, then I found Apple Studio, and got some things from them. “Someone told me, ‘Open a MySpace account and you will see lots of bands’. So I did, and I saw a lot of bands over there. I sent them messages, and they replied by phone, by email, getting more and more until now.
“Now they contact me through Facebook. Now they don’t want to send their music through the email. They want to give me their demo and put it in my hand. I say, ‘No need! Send email!’ They say, ‘No, I want to see you’.”
Although Bro is working to help musicians share their music, he is modest about his own knowledge. “I don’t know anything about music. I’m jahil about music. I don’t know what key or what chord. Sometimes the bands, they ask me to see them perform. I ask, ‘What are you pressing on your leg?’. They say, ‘It’s called Effect’. Then they show me.
“Lots of composers want me to see them mix the music. Right now i don’t have the time, but one day I want to do this. Go inside a studio, especially Chris (Pereira), see how they mix a song.”
Sabahan.net eventually became SabahanFM. Bro Langau is now moving on.
“I was at SabahanFM for two years. SabahanFM has a lot of DJs already, and they got their own identity. I said to the committee, on Sept 1, 2010, I will move out to my own radio station. OnlineFM.
“I made onlineFM on Jan 1, 2010, using Ning.com. But later I made a blog. I wanted to buy online.net, but it belongs to an Indian. They bought the domain but they never used it. I tried to contact them, but they didn’t answer me. So I bought http://www.on9fm.net. Lots of people, when they want to chat, they don’t type ‘online’, they type ‘on9’, like: “r u on9?” So I’m thinking better buy that, since there’s no more to buy.
“I hired someone to help me manage on9fm until I left SabahanFM. Now I have 100% moved to on9fm, and I will concentrate on independent bands on my radio station, but not for just Sabahans, but for all Malaysia.
Will people follow Bro Langau?
“People ask me why I picked LANGAU. You know Langau is a fly, right? It’s the most terrifying fly. It lives in the two terrible places; one is rubbish, the other is human carcasses. But the thing is, this fly is always the first one to land on a new piece of waste. After the Langau comes, other flies will come. First two, then a few hours later, lots of other flies are there. Then the Langau leaves. So I am the Langau. I land, others follows. Once they are there, I will leave to make a new thing. The others will lay eggs, which grow into more. Then they follow me.
“SabahanFM had zero fans on Facebook, now they have 32,000 fans. That’s why I’m leaving now, to make another nest, called On9FM. But this is my last radio station. After, I won’t do this anymore.“
Bro turned the Langau analogy to music itself.
“I also think, music is like the rubbish. The local indies, they got something. They got their own style, their own talent, but nobody wants to make them grow. But I try to. I try to look at them, try to know them. Even record their demo using the handphone, I can play it! Why not? We are not commercial radio. “Why do I choose independent stuff? Because they don’t have any label. They are unsigned. They just give me the demo. They say, ‘Bro, just play our demo, No need to pay us. Just play.’ I do that until now.
‘Bands make their own songs. They collect from each member RM20, go the studio, go to Chris, go to Apple, and record. The quality’s quite good, and then send to me. I think, they got talent, but my family and friends do not know them. So now they can all hear them. “Bands have their own concept. I am thinking of one band – The Minds. They bring this concept, Retro. When I heard their music, my tears came down. Because they’re the only one playing this. That’s why I love these kids.”
Bro will also play metal songs. “Why not? I can play a metal song like once a month, even if I don’t know what the lyrics are saying. They have their own concept, and their own followers. I never judge them. It’s not a problem for me.”
So Bro will now concentrate on Indie music across Malaysia. “Because now, there are no more online radio stations pushing the local bands. On commercial radio, they have XFM. But you have never before heard an online radio playing 100% Malaysian indie bands. KL bands are sending me demos now.”
Bro defined his position on sponsorship.
“I don’t want to go to a company and say I want a sponsor or things like that. But if you come to me for collaboration in the future, I don’t push people away.”
By the time this story is published, Bro will have held his on9fm Mini Jam event on January 1 2011.
“It’s our first year anniversary. This was my idea two years ago when I was still in Sabahan. I wanted an event, but only for bands. Not solo acts, or duos, or rap, or local KadazanDusun. I only wanted Indie bands; they need a stage, they need a platform.”
Bro attended the Jiaja CD launch event at Damai KopiTiam. Afterwards he talked to the owner.
“I said, ‘Can I do some event over here?’ He said, ‘Sure. You can bring as many as you can, but our capacity is 180 persons’. I like that cafe because they never sell liquor, and they never sell non-halal. He said I have to pay RM10 per head to Damai KopiTiam.
“So I ask bands, if I offer you to play in KK, you need to charge or not? Some, they say ‘No, for you, we play for free. We don’t want to charge, because we need to play. We need to expose our songs, our music, our style.’ Then I put them on a list.
‘But not all of them think like that. The ones that say, ‘You got your own budget?’ I cross them out.”
Bro wanted the event to be free, and Vegaran took the cover costs and provided food for the event.
“Some people emailed me. Bro, you want sponsorship? Anything, what you want? Hamper, voucher, money? So I reply, ‘You got your own budget, anything you want to give I am grateful.’ She said, ‘What about hamper? Do you want ten hampers?’ I said that’s more than enough! Three is enough. I ask for their logo to show as sponsor, but they don’t have a logo. They’re a very small charter company bringing people around the islands. So I made a logo for them from their letterhead, and will show that as a sponsor.
“Then a lady who is one of our chatters emailed me. She said, ‘You said it’s your first anniversary. You got your own cake?’ I said No! She said, ‘How many cake do you want?’ But I don’t like cake! I only like cheesecake. She said, ‘OK. How many kg you want? 10kg is enough?’ I said, ‘No lah! 1kg is enough.’ She said, ‘You crazy. Never mind. I sponsor your cake. I will make cheesecake. But never mention my name.’
“Three days ago, Celcom called me. ‘Any space for us to showcase information about Celcom?’
“These sponsorships automatically come to me. I never ask. The only sponsor I am asking is ROM [Revolution On Motion] because I have no photographers.
“I plan to do this once a month. My long term plan is to bring ‘on9fm Mini Jam’ to Jesselton Point. But it will depend whether the people appreciate the product or not.”
Bro Langau’s tagline is, Kalau Bukan Kita, Siapa Lagi. “If not us, who else? If not our local bands, who else? This tagline is useful for what I’m doing. Don’t wait for other people to do it for you. This is my own radio, I can do whatever I want to do. I just need to follow a few rules.”
And people are following Bro Langau.