KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 — Traditional ethnic music and electronic dance music (EDM) are an unlikely combination that are rarely paired together.

Sarawakian musician Belle Sisoski however combines EDM and the ethnic instruments of her heritage into a unique sound that is truly her own.

Belle samples traditional Sarawakian instruments like the stringed tapi and sape, and the keringut nose flute, incorporating them into her booming EDM beats with her own vocals.

Through her musical content, the 18-year-old has gained a large following of more than a million followers on Instagram and TikTok.


Mixing beats, live instruments, and singing, Belle’s live performances are filled with energy. — Picture courtesy of Belle Sisoski
Mixing beats, live instruments, and singing, Belle’s live performances are filled with energy. — Picture courtesy of Belle Sisoski

Belle’s videos feature her showcasing different traditional instruments from Sarawakian tribes and her experimentation in bringing them together into her own brand that conveys messages of protecting traditional cultures and the environment.

She made waves when she became the top three finalists for the Commonwealth Song Contest last year with her track Stop Your Games, a song capturing the dark emotions of the Covid-19 lockdowns.


Her latest single Mother’s Calling, is a cry to conserve culture, tradition, and the environment inspired by the urgency she felt to take part in caring for the earth.

She will be performing at the renowned 27th Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) at the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) from June 28 to 30.

Belle will be featured alongside other artists like Alena Murang, The Borneo Collective, Tuni Sundatang, Nisa Addina, and more.

The musician recently spoke with Malay Mail on her inspirations, musical process, and how she balances singing, spinning decks, singing, and playing instruments live.

Getting in touch with her roots

Growing up, Belle was classically trained in piano and violin, listening to the works of Debussy and Chopin before the contemporary music of Yanni, Vangelis, and John Williams.

Her love for traditional music and EDM came later during the Covid-19 lockdowns when she discovered her music teacher mom’s ethnomusicology thesis.

The thesis sparked her desire to connect with her cultural roots in Sarawak and the traditions and land of her ancestors.

“During the Covid-19 lockdown, I did lots of experimentation with musical instruments and did covers of different genres and music from various nationalities.

“It was a journey of self-discovery and experimental improvisation that led to combining traditional instruments in EDM.”

The music and the message

Belle’s songs have convey strong emotions on subject matters like the environment or fading cultures.

When creating a song, the musician’s process begins with a topic or an emotion that she wants to highlight.

In the case of Mother’s Calling, she wanted to portray Mother Nature’s call and cry to humans about climate change.

“I start a composition by creating the music first, solely with chord harmonies, as harmonies are the base for creating a feeling,” the musician said.

Belle always does ‘extensive’ research when creating a new song, listening to her favourite composers and fellow artists before getting feedback from her mum.

She added that she takes on challenging critiques of her work well, as it helps to improve the music.

Performing live

The Sarawakian’s performances are a vibrant energetic one-woman show of mixing, singing, and instrument play.

Her live stage setup often features ethnic instruments like the engkerumong gongs and engkerurai bamboo flute which she plays live alongside the booming EDM score.

Balancing these elements is no ordinary feat, and it's one that Belle says requires training and skill to get right.

“There is no shortcut to performing at a high level with live instruments,” Belle said.

“It is practice, practice, and more practice at a high level to know every detail of my equipment and deliver the best in every music production and live show.”

The multi-instrumentalist said that she enjoys the adrenaline rush of her sets and interacting with large crowds which energise her.

She is grateful to her fans for supporting her music, going all out at her shows, and giving her inspiration to try out new elements in every show.