At the launch of Takahara Suiko and Anwar Hadi’s debut as authors last Saturday at Kinokuniya KLCC, nobody was as excited as Projek Rabak co-founder Seyn Jukey.
Serving as emcee for the event, Seyn was a fan like the rest of those who showed up. He even did a reading of his favourite parts from both Takahara’s ‘Diari Nona Gila’ and Anwar’s ‘Whatever You Say I Am + I’m OK’.
Curiously, everyone present from the organizers to the fans seem of a similar age.
It’s the question and answer session, and the young crowd circles in on Takahara and Anwar. A woman of about 20 takes to the microphone and asks Takahara how she grew comfortable with her own body. This is a potential poster image of the average Rabak follower.
We asked Seyn about the Rabak roster, which appears dominated by young artists.
“Kita tak limitkan orang tua from working with us,” he quickly explains. “Cuma bila kita buat benda we know that our things lagi mudah accepted by orang yang lagi muda. Let’s say kalau ada orang yang lagi dewasa yang nak buat ni semua, kita accept je, we have no problem. “
He adds, “Benda-benda yang kita buat ini kebanyakannya adalah pop culture. Orang yang minat pop culture ini selalunya orang muda kan?”
Seyn seems young as well; youthful features aside, a trendy dress sense convey the taste level of new generation Malaysians. Decked in a newsboy cap and a checkered shirt worn over a loose tee, Seyn brims with a spirit and enthusiasm that adds an extraordinary presence to his humble five-foot-five frame.
“You have to put in energy if you want to explore new things,” Seyn tells us. “Orang dewasa, bila diorang membesar diorang dah buat benda ini. Untuk diorang explore new things yang new generation buat zaman sekarang, it will take energy. And orang muda kebanyakannya lagi banyak masa, padahal yang lebih dewasa ada banyak commitment.”
Rabak-Lit is an important component of Projek Rabak’s pop culture movement. As a publishing house, they’ve scored two bestsellers with Fynn Jamal’s ‘Puisi Tepi Jalan’ and Diana Nuzuin’s ‘7 Tahun 7 Hari’.
“Kita start benda ni dengan terbitkan buku-buku yang kita suka, just a very limited range of books,” Seyn says. “But as we grew, masa kita terbit buku we knew that we had a direction.”
The quest for a clear identity as a publisher stems from the idea that there is room in the market for everyone. Seyn states he understands that there are plenty of local publishers, and Rabak-Lit wants to contribute to the scene in their own specific way.
“This is the most important thing to us,” he admits. “We tak compete dengan publisher lain. Diorang dah ada followers masing masing, macam kitorang.”
Projek Rabak, formed with musician/writer Mohd Jayzuan, also controls Khizanat. The dedicated art space slash cafe in Ipoh is similar conceptually to Petaling Jaya’s famed Merdekarya. Coming soon however is a record label.
“Insya-Allah nanti kita akan release officially album Mohd Jayzuan, ‘Pop N’ Roll’,” Seyn announces humbly. “Itu satu album yang akan diproduce dan dipublish oleh Projek Rabak. Kita ada a few albums planned after this.”
It’s all early days however, and the process of forming a label is not so much a financial move than a desire to archive things they appreciate.
“Kita punya intention for the start adalah more to documenting the music. Maksudnya, we know that there are some brilliant music out there; there are some edgy music we believe should be documented, that we have to tell people about. This is our direction and vision for now with the label,” clarifies Seyn.
After the question and answer session was done with, Seyn thanked everyone who arrived repeatedly throughout the book launch and never failed to be genuinely amused by the attention they all received.
Even Takahara Suiko, the outgoing Youtube star who wears a tudung and a jubah most of the time, was shy when asked for autographs. This level of humility and comfort that exists within Rabak is a phenomenon that is specific to the latest breed of indie Malaysian artists.
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