KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — Noh Salleh has a very simple yet straightforward philosophy when it comes to making music, he doesn’t really care what you think.

“No one should judge the kind of music I want to play. In my view, I play music for personal satisfaction. Right from the start we played the type of music we wanted to play.

“(If people don’t like our music) we don’t give a s***. F*** you!” Noh said as he looked straight at the camera during my Facebook Live interview with him last Sunday.

Noh, of course, is the vocalist of indie alternative rock band Hujan.

One of the leading alternative music acts in Malaysia, Hujan has over the past 11 years flirted with various genres.  

I had asked him about what kind of music the band would like to play or experiment with. Noh replied that a self-styled indie rock band should not be tied down to labels or genres, and that musicians should never succumb to the pressures of playing to the crowd.

“We should play what we want to play, if because of that we are called posers then it doesn’t matter.

“(For example) Monoloque said from the start he plays grunge (rock), but music is full of possibilities… now he incorporates the use of keroncong in his music,” Noh said, referring to the traditional ukulele-like instrument used by the Malaysian artiste Monoloque in his performances.

How Malaysians behave on social media

Noh says he’s already grown accustomed to attacks on social media about Hujan as well as his personal life, and believes that social media has made Malaysians more judgmental in general.

“Malaysians draw their own conclusions quickly, as a country we are given easy access to Facebook, social media but I think we are not mature enough to handle it at times.

“Malaysians end up becoming ‘cyber ustaz’... they become God and judge people. As part of Hujan, I’m already immune to this, and people saying things about my marriage (with Mizz Nina), knowing that Malaysia is full of hatred, we have to move on and that’s what makes you stronger.”

He thinks that learning to ignore the haters and critics has fueled him to focus on his music and career both as a lead vocalist and a solo artiste.

Fame

The 32-year-old from Miri, Sarawak came from humble beginnings and had to leave everything to come to KL and work his way into the music scene.

And he’s worn many hats over the years, having dabbled in even hip-hop at the start of his music career. Which is probably why he gets easily agitated when young bands ask him how to find an easy path to fame and fortune.

“It’s always been about the struggle. If people from the Peninsula tell me I’m lucky to have all the attention on my music, I feel like telling them it’s not fair (to say that) because I had to travel all the way from Sarawak and I had nothing in the beginning, but I believed in the struggle.

“People here... they have everything, but they don’t take the effort to work hard...so to them I say fix your intentions first, and then the good fortune will eventually come,” Noh said.

He recalled how at one point he had to borrow RM200 from his mother, and that his family only gave their blessings to his career after five years working with Hujan.

Every day was a battle of proving his worth and the path he had chosen.

“There is a Jim Carrey quote: ‘I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.’

“People think that the journey to the top is great but they’ve never felt the struggle to get here and to finally realise… it is not what it seems, to be at the top,” Noh said.

(Re)release of solo album in Indonesia

Noh also spoke about his plans to re-release his 2014 solo album Noh Salleh in Indonesia sometime in September this year, and that it will contain the same six tracks plus three more new songs.

“People there (in Indonesia) appreciate my music, not my personal life… I feel that there is a deeper level of appreciation for music there.

“People will actually go up to me and ask questions about where I draw the influences in my songs from,” he explained.

The rock star feels that there is an inherent difference in the level of musical appreciation between fans from Malaysia and Indonesia and that to this end, radio stations should play a more proactive role in educating the masses.

“Malaysian radio stations don’t educate… they play what people want, they feed their bellies but not their minds… but I feel that radio (here) has a role to play to educate people,” he said.

Noh added that radio stations should dedicate some airtime or segments to local music of specific genres.

“There should be a local segment for... let’s say the local metalcore scene… when’s the last time you heard metalcore playing in radio stations here?” he asked.