Malaysians Kini

The power couple sparking new directions in music and culture

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MALAYSIANS KINI | She was putting finishing touches on a cake. He had just come home from work.

It is an unassuming scene, but individually, singer Takahara Suiko and online personality Anwar Hadi are media icons with large followings. Together, they make up one of Malaysia’s most creative power couples.

27-year-old Takahara fronts The Venopian Solitude, a musical group which she originally started in 2013 as a one-woman show. Now a seven-piece band, the group’s unique sound and xylophone-led live performances have forged a new direction for Malaysian music.

Takahara is a pseudonym for the singer’s public persona (she prefers not to reveal her real name to protect her privacy). She penned all lyrics to her band’s 2014 debut album Hikayat Perawan Majnun (Tale of A Lunatic Damsel), which was nominated for Best Album, Best Song Arrangement and Best Music Video at the Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM) that year.

In the album, she critiques deforestation and colonialism in Kehadapan Para Pencemar (Come forward, polluters), and chronicles her experience with depression in Tenangkan Bontot Anda (Calm Your Buttocks).

“I wrote the song 'Mahar' (dowry) after my sister pointed out a scar I had on my leg, and said ‘tolak lima ribu!’ (minus RM5,000).

“She explained how the more scars a woman had, the less hantaran (wedding gifts) the groom's family had to offer for her. And then my brother showed me how a newspaper had published dowry “ratings” for women based on their educational qualifications.

“I got so angry and wrote Mahar,” she explains to Malaysiakini.

Like how she is in person, her songs are unabashedly bold and endearingly zany. She sings in a voice that is equally shrill as it is melodic - wailing, whistling and laughing her way through the melodies.

Her determination to use uncommon Malay words gives her lyrics added depth....