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With so much culture and diversity in Malaysia, it’s no surprise to know that this country has a wealth of talented musicians; each with their own story and style that have gained local and international acclaim. Here are some artists that you may have already heard of but did not realize are from the beautiful southeast Asian country of Malaysia, to add to your worldwide playlist.
Having already achieved success in her own country, Shila Amzah has added to her monumental breakthroughs as a Malay Muslim singer in the Mandopop sphere. A veteran to the performing industry, she continues striving to expand her horizons through leaning new languages and cultures; adding to her contemporary style with heartfelt renditions of personal experiences.
Hailed as the top DJs from Asia, Goldfish and Blink are no strangers to the EDM crowd, having performed with big names such as Tiesto, David Guetta and Hardwell to name a few. Bringing new progressive energy to the rave scene, the duo’s signature mix matching styles have reached amazing heights, and have even been included in 2017’s Tomorrowland line-up.
This pop band has reached modest success worldwide, and remains beloved by Malaysians and the local mainstream radio stations. With their independent style echoing influences like The Beatles, Maroon 5 and other pop influences, Paperplane Pursuit has broken through US charts with their passion for creating music and keeping ideas of fame and money secondary to their continuous efforts in gearing up for bigger stages.
Arguably the most popular artist to emerge from Southeast Asia, Yuna is far from an unfamiliar name and face to grace the worldwide music industry. With her cheery smile and beautiful hijab style, Yuna has had tremendous success with her guitar over multiple platforms; dominating both English and Malay charts. She comically describes her style as Coldplay meets Mary Poppins and continues to record in multiple languages while also being a fashion icon to Muslim women all over the world. You may have already heard her fun and dulcet vocals through her collaboration with Owl City on the soundtrack of the animated movie The Croods or on her duet with Usher.
With her continuous success and 12 album releases since her breakthrough via Taiwanese platforms, Fish Leong shines in the Mandarin sphere. Her easygoing and gentle tones have won the hearts of fans of lounge music; you can often hear her music in cafes all over Asia. Her biggest achievement to date was a sell-out concert in New York’s Lincoln Center and she remains noted as one of the best loved song artists in Mandopop history.
A part of Malaysian’s trendsetting hip hop duo Too Phat, Joe Flizzow has paved the way for the younger generation of Malaysian emcees, DJs, rappers and rhymers to embrace and grow their craft. His music carries a charismatic persona, and combined with his passion for voicing social issues, have made international headlines in the hip hop industry. Aside from a booming music career, Joe is also a skilled entrepreneur – owning a barbershop, restaurant and his own record label encouraging new music and young artists in Malaysia.
A complete list of great Malaysian musicians and music cannot be complete without mentioning P. Ramlee. Although he has long since passed on, his works are nothing short of legendary in Malaysian, Malay and Southeast Asian history of the early 40s. A writer, director, actor, composer, singer and musician; there has not been another Malaysian from any walk of life that has come close to being as talented as him. His passion for music has graced Southeast Asia with many beautiful renditions of folklore and original scores, and his distinct love for romance, comedy and drama have been posthumously declared to be absolute genius.
Heading up the long lasting love of rock and roll, Bunkface has been the trademark for Malay youth who profess to be pop punks. Their music has encapsulated the hot blooded drive since 2006, and they have succeeded in building a strong local presence all over Malaysia. With a first all-English album released in 2017, they look forward to gaining even more pop rock fans all over Asia.
Often dubbed as the Malaysian Norah Jones during her early breakthrough, Zee Avi has had sweet success with her guitar and ukulele strumming. She continues to captivate fans all around the world with her dreamy styles of indie folk and jazz rock. Although currently based in the United States, Zee Avi has remained close to her home country and has even contributed to the soundtracks to one of Malaysia’s most recent favorite film, Ola Bola.
A fresh face among the newest generation of Malaysian hip hop, SonaOne rose from being a small graffiti artist and a frequent face in the underground to being mentored by hip hop mogul Joe Flizzow and making a way for himself in the professional league. His lyrical tracks are often full of his experiences of being an outcast due to his half-Malay half-French heritage, and he shows potential of being the next spearhead of hip hop in Asia.