[EXCLUSIVE] Shuuna On Their “Poetries Made To Sing”| Malaysian Band Spotlight
Shuuna’s music was written with the intention to be ‘poetries made to sing’. They’ve maintained a sound that revolves around indie Nusantara with the touch of electronic, ambience and shoegaze. Shuuna don’t limit their inspiration either, believing that a memorable music repertoire, most of the time comes from an archived memory or a piece of the musician’s emotion at that particular moment.
When asked if they think people relate to their music, the band says that they never thought that their music would echo outside their circle but they’re grateful it did. “The world is a crazy place and we hope that our music isn’t only a perfect escape but also therapeutic. Sometimes, every now and them, we get back a lot of positive but emotional reactions where people feel that our music is very soothing and can calm them down when listening,” they add.
How did the band come about and what’s the story behind the name?
Shuhusna had been performing as a guest singer for Monalyssa, Moja’s alternative rock band around Klang Valley in 2016. The duo found chemistry in writing songs and performing together, when they decided to form Shuuna as a duo, playing their original folk-acoustic music in pubs and cafés late 2016.
The band’s name Shuuna was actually taken from the leading vocalist, Shuhusna’s family and friends’ nicknames for her (Shu and Una). The confusion made whether ‘Shuuna’ is referring to the vocalist or the band was done on purpose so that we have a conversation starter for anyone.
What kickstarted the journey into music?
Early 2017, we decided to rebrand our music style to something we’ve always wanted to do. We released our very first EP “Torsades Des Pointes” and went on tour with it at underground venues since 2017. The first EP was a tribute to Shuhusna’s late mother who passed away of heart disease in 2017. She was a passionate music lover and had a lot of influence on what we write today. Nothing specific really kickstarted our journey, it’s just us and our passion.
We wanted to express ourselves and simply be ourselves on the stage, and I feel the honesty naturally captured our audiences hearts. As the years went by, we received more and more invitations to perform at both small and large scale events across Malaysia including the East Malaysia. Along the journey, we met Fai and Miro, who blended in naturally with Shuuna vibes. They eventually joined Shuuna and transformed it to become what it is now.
Where do you get your inspiration for your music?
Inspirations come from everywhere for Shuuna. We believe that a memorable music repertoire, most of the time, comes from an archived memory or a piece of the musician’s emotion at that particular moment. Hence, we have no limit in our compositions to enable us to express with full freedom. Nowadays, you could go shopping at malls and get inspired by millions of stuff all over the place, it’s just a matter of interpretation.
Are there any artists you look up to that inspire your music/style?
Music wise, we play and compose a new piece based on our own twist of our personal music experience, and for Moja and Shu who writes most of the materials, the one iconic inspiration who stands out for Shuuna is the late P Ramlee.
What is the song writing process like? Melody or lyrics first?
Neither, it’s the concept, the title, or the emotion. Once we get that first part done, which sometimes takes a day, while on some other times it will take months, both the lyrics and melody will then come together naturally at the same time. There’s actually a reason to this whereby we would be able to match the lyrics to the melody and vice versa. They were not set in stone from the start, hence allowing for creative freedom.
Do you have a song that means a lot to you?
Shu: The track “Aku” was written by Moja personally for me in 2016 as a love song. It was initially entitled Untuk Aku for obvious reason to which we amended just for the fun of it.
Moja: “Terang Bintang, Tenang Bulan” is actually a dialogue between two characters named Bintang and Bulan, both of which represent Shu and I. The song was written about and when we were going through a hard time figuring life out, and ironically it has single-handedly became our top song on Spotify and brought us to where we are now.
What are your views on the Malaysian music industry?
To be honest, there are a number of camps in the industry and there’s no way around it. This has been a result of many factors such as different taste of genres, contrast depictions on mainstream and independent media, social stigma, negative mentality of the public and so on so forth. But rather than quarreling around, I think that all these camps should encourage collaborations and tackle issues that matter.
As a Malaysian music lover, you would have to go for online media nowadays to get a better picture of how the music really is in Malaysia. It is sad for us to see how sometimes, the music trends in Malaysia somehow go backwards. Most of the time, the independent artistes succeed better internationally, all by working with their own hard work and pocket money compared to the ones under major labels.
Any changes you’d like to see in the industry?
I really hope that the gatekeepers of the industry would be more open and proactive in getting fresh but high quality music for the public to be exposed to. We would also love to see more collaborations of huge festivals organisers with independent artistes.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Financially, for obvious reasons. As a band, we have always tried our best to expand and we could never be able to do it without good financial support. We have never been approached by or offered any sponsors, and we have always kept going with the motivation of each other in the band. We really hope that funders who are interested would email us to enable us to do more amazing things that we have planned out for the next 5 years more smoothly.
What are the future plans for Shuuna?
Shuuna is in the midst of recording our first album, which hopefully can be finished by end of this year. We are also in talks with MV directors in plans of releasing a couple of music videos this year with new singles. For the time being, we will keep performing at local gigs or universities/colleges when there’s an invitation.
If you could describe Shuuna in one word, what would it be?