[SabahSongs thanks Eric Craig M. Ansibin for this photo. This is his blog]
I have thought before that the abundance of natural musical talent in Sabah sometimes seems as if God singled out this place to shower this gift on its gentle inhabitants.
This thought came to me again when I met 17-year-old Sabahan Mohd Shadikhin [nickname Dicken], who is from Ranau.
We met at Datuk Uzair’s home. The Datuk had called me and said: “You must come to my home and meet an amazing guitarist from Ranau. He’s so young!”
So I had made my way to Putatan, to a place affectionately known by the local pro musicians as “Kg Ketiau Blues Centre”.
The Datuk is quite a supporter of musicians, especially guitarists! “I was at Stompin’ Sabah,” he said. “Dicken was so good! I thought I must help expose someone like this, let people know about him. At that time, I talked with his father, and we brought him here to my home, to play with Man Keedal [legendary guitarist from KL].”
Now I was able to chat with Dicken, who was typically Sabahan, so modest and unassuming, sitting cross-legged on the stage floor, playing blindingly fast riffs with his eyes closed like it was nothing.
“I learned to play music from the internet, and a little bit from the radio,” Dicken said. “My parents don’t play instruments, but my aunty gave me a guitar for my 13th birthday. It wasn’t that easy to play in the beginning; I just learnt by myself, some chords from the internet.
“When I was maybe 14, I realised I had something different. I played my guitar all day and all night, and yes – I also went to sleep holding my guitar [smiles].
“One of my influences was Alexi Laiho [Finnish melodic metal guitarist, ranked among the fastest guitarists in the world by a few guitar authorities, according to Wikipedia].”
Dicken played with bands around Sabah, along with his cousin who is a year older. Someone spotted him at an event and went back to KL to tell the organizers of Stompin’ Sabah about this Ranau prodigy.
“I was very happy when I knew I would play in Stompin’ Sabah [in November 2010]. It was the first time I met Man Keedal, and I was nervous during the rehearsals, but on the actual night, I was okay!”
Several Facebook and blogger accounts of that event recall an awesome showdown or ‘guitar battle’ between the young gun and veteran virtuoso Man Keedal.
It’s just the beginning for this young man, who likes to mix the genres when he’s alone: new metal, death metal, melodic metal and others.
New Media specialist Amos Chee helped me with some translations, and he asked Dicken a few questions about bands and recordings. In response Dicken said he has no regular band, because the members are not fixed. Similarly with recordings, they haven’t done any yet since they have not formed a proper band.
Dicken’s parents, Mohd Khairie and Annie, shared some thoughts.
“We didn’t influence Dicken to take up music,” said Mohd Khairie. “He was a regular kid when he was small, it was not until his 13th birthday when his aunty gave him a guitar, that he became so involved in music. I don’t sing or play instruments.
“We started to realise that he was very serious about music, so we do everything we can to just support. He has learnt everything from the internet and watching videos.”
As one parent to another, I had to ask them if they were ready for their boy to move away yet. Their faces definitely said ‘No’ for the moment! “We want him to stay and finish his studies,” his father said.
It seems that Dicken doesn’t read a lot of music yet, so even though his technical skills are quite phenomenal, perhaps he has room to grow in other aspects of musical learning.
Certainly at 17, armed with such raw talent, the world is an exciting place full of discovery for Dicken. With some more exposure to different music forms, and schooling, we can surely look forward to a meteoric rise by this new Sabahan star.
Good luck to your future, Dicken!