Soft-spoken Pot Amir is no stranger to making music in Malaysia. “I’m from a group called Innuendo, which started in ’93. Our first album was out in ’97.”
He was in Kota Kinabalu to perform at a wedding with the band Al Mawlid, and he brought the rest of the band to Suara Mega, the recording studio operations at Mega Boogie Sdn Bhd in Alamesra.
“This visit is for the other guys to make a relationship with Mega Boogie. When I perform here with my other band BorneoMC, Lazman is my drummer. So I’ve been here lots of times, and I love Mega Boogie so much.”
He smiled and shrugged his shoulders, “Since the talents are here, I have to come to the talents, right?”
But Pot Amir’s relationship with Sabah has been painful too!
“My band Innuendo dropped out of the scene around 2005. After that, I formed a band called Radio Star. But Radio Star is a tragic story, in that Sabah stole that away from me!
“My keyboardist was great, a short dude called Jimmy Jumin, from Tawau. But he has a degree in Electrical Engineering, and even though he’s a damned good keyboardist, he went back to Tawau and is attached to Sabah Electric!
“Then a guy called Mahfuz, affectionately known as Apuk, who was my guitarist and the musical director of Radio Star, married a Sabahan. Well, when you marry a Sabahan, you become a Sabahan. So my poor band Radio Star was left in KL without a guitarist, musical director and keyboardist!
“Radio Star had an album out, but I couldn’t promote it, because the band didn’t exist anymore! I tried to work with other musicians, but it wasn’t the same. The chemistry wasn’t there, it wasn’t blending well.”
This band, Al Mawlid, is working on a special project. “This is a religious music album, but the genre is still the same – Soul R&B,” Pot Amir said.
“The leader of the group is Amer Munawer Yusuf, and along with myself, the other band members are my brother Azan Addin, Lah Ahmad, and Zaf.”
These musicians were originally from other bands Pot Amir has been connected with, Ruff Edge and VE.
“When Innuendo was at its peak, we started a record label, to take care of these two up and coming groups — Ruff Edge and VE. We thought they were very talented, and they could be our protegés. I’m embarassed to say this now, but the label was called The Promised Clan. I don’t know what I was on back then, but that’s what it was called…
“Anyway, we made an album called Extreme Pleasure, where we combined songs from both groups onto the one album. It was during the R&B pop era, in 2001. After a while, they signed on to EMI — EMI was the only label back then, even Innuendo was signed to EMI.
“Sadly, the same story happens with all vocal groups – after a while you have to move on.”
So, moving on to the present, here we are sitting in Mega Boogie’s building.
“This project came about because of a new TV station – TV AlHijrah, on Astro Channel 114. It’s a government Islamic station which went on air on the first day of the Islamic calendar, which fell on Dec 7th last year.”
Amer Munawer asked Pot Amir to help him put together a band, after the TV station invited him to sing. “He called me to rope in these guys for this special project, because I’m like the eldest of all of them, and I used to manage them.”
Describing what is important about this project, Pot Amir said it’s singing a religious message in an R&B context. “Because we’re still Malays. We’re not Arabs.
“Everybody in the music scene that we knew before — when they come into contact with religion again — they tend to disappear from the music industry completely. They become something else totally different, like a clerk or something, to make ends meet. We tried that before, on our own, but we have a good teacher, and our teacher never told us to stop doing what we’re good at. This is our destiny, this is what we do best.
“So we are back making music in the same genre, but with a different message. This has never been done before, in Malaysia at least. We tend to do a lot of a cappella stuff also, especially when we perform live.”
Apart from getting a tour of the building, the guys also did some work at Suara Mega studios. “I’ve already done some pre-production, and we might complete that before we go back tonight. We have five songs already. We are talking to two music labels about bringing out the album. The album doesn’t have a name yet.”
Here’s Al Mawlid performing a cappella on Pot Amir’s album “Alkaline Jazz”.
AL-MAWLID can be found on Facebook.