Stalwarts of the live music scene in Kuala Lumpur, Kaya (The Band) started as a two piece in 2010, grew in size over six years, won some competitions along the way which enabled them to put out original material. We wanted to find out more and spoke to one of the founding members and Bassist David Harding about how it all began and some of the highs and lows performing.
Hi David, welcome to The City List, for anybody that doesn’t know, who are the members of Kaya the Band?
The members consist of Emmanuel (Lead Singer/guitar), David (Bass, vocals), Michael (Lead guitar), Matthew (Drums, vocals), Donnie (Keys, vocals)
Tell us a bit more about the band, how did you start/form?
Kaya (the band) initially started out just like most bands do, jamming in each other’s houses in their young teenage years. We are self-taught musicians with a growing passion for music and shared our musical skills and knowledge with each other to constantly improve.
Our first two members, Emmanuel Joseph (lead singer & guitarist) and myself David Harding (bassist) first performed for a band competition called Talent Experiment in 2010, which we went on to win and that was the beginning of the band, Kaya..
In 2014, our friends Matthew Ezra and Michael Peris joined as the band’s drummer and lead guitarist respectively and in 2016, Donald Omar who originates from Tanzania joined as our keyboardist.
With the band finally complete we started working on more original songs and took part in Forte Karnival Music and won the grand prize to record our first single “Ello Stiletto” with the record label, Pulse Soundworks in 2015.
Since then we have performed in various local music festivals such as PUAS Fest, Island Music Festival, The Sime Darby LPGA and most recently Jameson’s St. Patrick’s Day, Guinness St. Patrick’s Day, Tiger Crystal launch party and also have our weekly gigs at popular locations like Pisco Bar (KL), Iron fairies (KL) and even Salud (Melaka) just to name a few.
Describe your sound?
We started out as a pure hard rocknroll band, but over the years have grown to love reggae and funk as we grew up with this music infused in our souls. This is clearly evident in the music we create (can be heard in our debut album “On Toast”). We blend these genres together to create music we love.
You have won a couple of competitions since 2009, how have they helped you progress since?
We won our first competition in 2010, that helped us get a foot in the music scene in KL. Still fresh, but it helped get us recognition and our first weekly show in KL. We then won King of the Hill for 4 consecutive weeks in 2012, and Forte Music Carnival in 2013. It helped with getting our name out bit more along with monetary rewards.
What’s been some of the highs from gigs in Malaysia?
It will always be the reception from the crowd. No amount of money can beat the natural joy one gets from hearing the crowd screaming and cheering to our music, especially our original music.
Without naming names what’s the worst experience as a band to date?
I must mention some of the promised winnings from the competitions we won were not kept by some organisers, we felt dejected, but it motivated us to continue and persevere even more. Also, probably one music festival we practiced really hard for had to be called off due to the authorities last minute change of mind. That was frustrating for us.
If you had one bit of advice for anyone trying to break through what would it be?
Networking is probably half the job. You got to get out there, meet and message people, promote your brand/self, leave good impressions wherever you perform. They’ll call you back. Perseverance, hard work, and thick skin is also essential. Get used to rejections and move on.
Who are some of your musical influences and why?
Local- Hujan, Blues geng, Salammusik, Yuna, Altimeter. These guys have been in the scene for years and still relevant as ever. International -The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, RHCP, AC/DC, anything 70s funk. We grew up listening to these acts, 5 individuals in the band all with different taste so we blend and fuse these genres together.
Name one Artist/s you would like to work with and why?
I’m gonna cheat a bit. Locally would be Hujan, because Noh Salleh is super cool. Internationally would be RHCP, because they do what they want when they want. I feel we have that in ourselves as well.
What frustrates you and what do you love about the music scene here in KL?
Strictly my POV, I feel at the moment performing cover music makes more money than doing original music. I love our original music but the recognition and support is still somewhat lacking, especially English local music. If this can be turned around, I'd be a happy boy.
Where do you see the scene in say five/ten years?
It’s always evolving, but I see there are venues popping up every other day for music, which is good. I hope the venues in the next few years promote original music more than cover pop stuff though.
What else have you got lined up for 2019/20?
Kaya has just finished recording our new single. We’re gonna start recording the next one then plan to release them early next year along with an MV if everything goes well. Also, more international shows are in the line up, waiting to be confirmed.
Any up and coming bands/singers locally we should be looking out for over the next twelve months?
Check out Ryot Jones, Jumero, Dani, Pris Xavier, Crinkle Cut, Battlebloom, Darryl Thomas, to name a few. All with good original material. #supportlokal