Uncovering New Talents!
Writer: Dominic Luk
Published: Fri, 12 Apr 2013
Az Samad is a guitarist, composer, and educator. He has performed in the United States, Europe and Asia. Az was the featured classical guitar soloist with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) for the Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy Kuala Lumpur premiere conducted by Arnie Roth (USA). He was also on the faculty of Berklee College of Music’s Summer Guitar Sessions and has taught workshops at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut; Culturefest in Pipestem, West Virginia; and The Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, California.
Currently, Az hosts the Open Mic @ The Venue, which has been getting a lot of attention. Selangor Times spoke to Az to find out more about the Open Mic series.
After living abroad for many years, what made you come back to Malaysia two years ago?
Az: It felt like it was the right time to come back. So many new things were beginning to happen in KL while I was away, and I felt very inspired by what was happening back home. I thought it was time for me to head back and be part of the new creative projects and movements taking place. In fact, I’ve been very lucky since coming back; I’ve gotten many amazing performing opportunities which I wouldn’t have done if I had stayed in the US. For example, I got to perform with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and performed the opening act for Tommy Emmanuel.
What’s the story behind the conception of your Open Mic series held at The Venue?
Az: I’ve always loved open mic events, especially while I was in the US. My years abroad influenced me to want to create more open mic opportunities in KL, while promoting a supportive environment for performers. Over the years, I saw how many amazing musicians began their careers through open mic sessions, and so I thought it would be great if we had more of these things here in Malaysia! I had a great boost in my career too in the US, thanks to an open mic gig that I did, so I wanted it to happen to more people here too.
How has your Open Mic series been received so far, and how successful do you think it’s been?
Az: I am humbled by how much support we’ve been receiving. On the 29th of April, we’ll be having our seventh session, and we are expecting a lot of great talents to sign up. What I love is that we have all sorts of people signing up to perform, even celebrities and well-known musicians! We also have seen many performers improving since their first performance at earlier Open Mic sessions, and it’s great learning how they want to keep performing to improve their craft. We’ve had poets, beatboxers, and people performing all sorts of styles like rock, metal, and punk. One night, Chelsia Ng signed up and performed with her ukulele! It’s a great place where collaborations are being made and it’s becoming a community-based event, which I am very happy about. Some of our new performers are also being noticed by industry veterans and music producers, so it’s definitely becoming a new place to be scouted.
The next Open Mic @ The Venue (Pavilion, KL) will be on April 29, 2013.
Sign-ups begin at 7.30pm, the Open Mic starts at 8pm
More information can be found at www.azsamad.com/openmic