Dec 12, 2012

0 Fringe Stages - 9th Penang Island Jazz Festival

A week has passed since the 9th Penang Island Jazz Festival (PIJF) concert but the immense impression it left on me has yet to subside. I came home with an adrenalin rush that no one could understand, gushing about all the amazing local talents I saw. I even promised myself that I would attend next year's the "uhuh" looks on my friends' faces.

I was there for six days just to catch the entirety of the event, including the sideshows. How I landed here is thanks to my cousin Gen, who has a love affair with music. I never expected it to be this good. You're hearing this from someone who doesn't have a deep appreciation for music. Jazz, local acts.. ? Huh?

Don't misunderstand me, I do love music but I've never taken it deeper than the more common or famous international acts like Madonna or what's always on our radio. And if anyone were to ask me about the musical instruments involved, I would have most likely responded with something as unintelligent as, "I think three of them were playing some sort of guitar and two were on drums".

The Fringe Stages were organised by Creative Malaysia, an initiative introduced last year, to promote Malaysian music. These events were organised in a more laid back environment and is free for the public to attend. It was here that I fell in love with Froya ( and Zalila Lee (

The PIJF flyer with Zalila Lee performing in the background

I watched them perform three days in a row, in three different locations. It started with the Sundown event at the Tropical Spice Garden. What can I say, I'm an overnight fan.

Froya's music puts the H-A-P-P-Y in me. It's very catchy fare with small instrumental twists that makes her music fresh and unique. I like the originality of her song lyrics. I was hunting for her album during the festival only to be disappointed that it hasn't been released.

Zalila, on the other hand, has a more bluesy style and sings mostly accompanied with just the sound of her guitar although she's also an accomplished drummer. My favourite song from Zalila is "Paper Skin" least that's what I think the song is called. Google results drew a sad blank. I'm working my grey cells to recall the title.

There were many brilliant performers in the Fringe Stages, but these are the two whom I would put my money down for a CD. For the rest, I would catch them "live" because that's where their strength really lies.

I'll end with some photos to give you an idea what it's all about and also short video clips of the songs that impressed me, all taken at the Fringe event in Hard Rock Hotel, Penang:

Zalila Lee strumming her guitar

Froya aka Michelle Lee

Rocker Chick performing alongside Froya. She's madly passionate.


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