Creating future funk
There is something about old Malay pop music from the 1980s that has captured the imagination of this innovative young musician
Article from the Sun daily (posted on 24 Dec 2019)
EVEN in person, Amzar Hafizi stands out from the crowd. His fashion style – which blends a retro look with contemporary sensibilities and futuristic ideas – is as unique as the music he has chosen to champion.
Driven by passion, Amzar, 23, takes inspiration from music before his time and makes them ‘new’.
Known in the music scene as Fi7i, he has single-handedly re-introduced thousands of youths worldwide to the golden age of Malay music, and rekindled the spark of nostalgia in thousands more with his brand of future funk.
Tell us how your journey into music began.
“I started making music in 2013. But it all started with my parents; my mum is a fan of Sheila Majid. She used to work in a cassette factory and she was very fond of local artistes. Through her, I grew familiar with Malay music from the 1980s.
“The genre of music I make is called future funk. I take 1980s music and make it sound futuristic, hence the name. I discovered the style on YouTube, on a channel called Artzie Music.
“Most musicians in this genre use Japanese City Pop music, so I thought: ‘Why don’t I use Malay pop music instead?’ I also want to make my country proud.”
What attracted you to 1980s Malay pop music?
“The lyrics. One thing I noticed the most when comparing music from today to music from the past was the lyrics. With old music, the words may be simple, but the meaning is profound. Lyrics from most old Malay music were based on poetry.
“But today, musicians would use anything that they think sounds nice. It is especially jarring when I listen to Malay music, and the song turns out to [include lyrics in another language]. I feel they should not do this.”
How did you learn to mix music?
“Everything I do in music is self-taught ... with a lot of help and encouragement from my friends too, of course. After I started making music, I went to university. While there, I would tell my friends that I made music ... and I could show them how I produced the music.
“In live shows, I use a DJ deck to mix my song live. It is nice if the organisers can provide me with one but I also have one of my own, a basic mixing gear. When I am on stage, one song that everyone recognises me for, is Sinaran by Sheila Majid.”
How do you distribute your music?
“I distribute mainly through Soundcloud and Bandcamp under the name Fi7i. I also do cassettes. I had an album on tape last year for Cassette Store Day.
“I was planning to make another one this year, but I did not manage to make it on time.
The album from last year was called Megahit Memory. The title was inspired by a radio station tagline and the name of a series of compilation albums from back in the day.
“Did you know such cassettes are still being made in Malaysia? It’s actually the trend now in the indie scene.”
Who produced your cassettes?
“FBFC Editions is a label started by Ero and Azzief. It was their idea to turn my album into a cassette. The graphic was done by my friend, Irfan (@Irfungus).
“The cassette contains some of my older songs and some new songs as well. It took about a month to produce. I handed them the digital version of my music which they turned into a master copy and then made them into cassettes.”
What are you studying? “I just graduated from film school, actually.”
What are the words you live by? “Anywhere you go, always uphold your heritage.”
What modern genre of music do you listen to? “I listen to all music, especially electronica.”
Do you play any instrument? “No.”
How do people discover you? “Most people find me through social media by searching for Fi7i.”
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