This Malaysian Band Went From Singing In A Bedroom To Performing In Korea
There's something special when a song is able to take you on a journey away from the noise of life.
That's exactly what 'Battle Bloom' does with its dreamy tunes.
The Malaysian indie-pop band consists of Melissa Toh (vocalist), Fariz Salleh (guitarist), Dianne Lim (keyboardist and vocalist), and Ryan Lee Bhaskaran (drummer and vocalist).
We sat down with them to find out how the band formed, their 'Malaysian' inspiration behind their songs, and how they love to DIY everything:
SAYS: Hey guys! How did y'all first start working together?
Fariz: Melissa and I started off as a two-piece band in college. We went to Melbourne to study, and we met up with Dianne.
Melissa: I knew Dianne from secondary school, we were in choir club together. She was the president and I was vice president. I told Fariz, we definitely need someone like Dianne.
Fariz: So we came back and we did an album called 'Maps and Diagrams'. At that time, we had a different drummer, who had to go back to his hometown in Jakarta.
But it wasn't long before we met Ryan, who joined us later!
SAYS: Tell us about why you named yourselves, 'Battle Bloom'.
Fariz: 'Battle' comes from our heavier influences and 'bloom' comes from the more softer, folky pop sounds.
The hard sound may not come out in [our songs], but trust me, it's there. *laughs*
SAYS: What have your fans said about your music that sets you guys apart?
Fariz: A lot of people say that we're a very dreamy sounding band.
They can escape when they listen to us or when they close their eyes. The music really encompasses them and takes them on a journey.
Ryan: We also don't have a bassist! Dianne "plays" the bass for us using her keys.
Dianne: One-third of my brain is singing, one-third of my brain is keys, and the rest is bass. *laughs*
SAYS: I've heard that all of you guys either freelance or have full-time jobs. How do you find the time and space to meet up to practise?
Ryan: We gather in Mel's house and her bedroom. We set up our recording equipment and produce it, then we send it to professionals to mix it.
We do most of the production process ourselves so we have the ability to experiment and fail, experiment and fail - until the desirable comes out of it.
This works because we are a very DIY band, we do everything ourselves. So we don't have to rely on having to pay for a studio or anything.
We are lucky enough to record things in our own time.
SAYS: In what other ways have you guys showcased your DIY skills?
Fariz: When we launched 'Maps And Diagrams' in 2017, we did like a whole play. There was a narrator.
Melissa and Dianne: We made our own props and DIY-ed everything two weeks before the launch!
Melissa and Dianne: For each song, there was a scene and a story. So for example, during our single, 'Waiting', we built a boat and had a friend pretend to be the captain.
We had our other friends wear black and help us backstage to set up and remove props. It was really fun!
SAYS: Where do you get your song inspiration from?
Fariz: Everyone writes the songs together. Melissa leads the lyrical side. And we try to collaborate here and there.
Melissa: Sometimes someone has a riff - musical instrument wise - and we start off from there.
SAYS: You guys recently went to Korea to perform. How did you end up touring there?
Dianne: We got in touch with a Korean indie band called 'Manju Pocket' and we did an exchange of shows.
So they came over and we helped put together a show for them here and they helped us when we went there.
Fariz: It was also a good way to expose each other to their own respective music scene by organising shows and meeting multiple local acts.
We thought, let's just document our journey there. And that's how we made our music video for our latest single, 'Oceans'.
SAYS: Tell me more about your latest single, 'Oceans'. What's the story behind it?
Melissa: I was in the Philippines during a holiday and got to swim with some whale sharks. It was a surreal experience to just be floating amongst these majestic creatures.
When I got back, we got together and started jamming and these guys came up with a riff that just sounded like waves crashing and had this peaceful ambience to it.
I was inspired to piece together some of my experience from swimming with the whale sharks along with some feelings of being lost and belonging and yeah, 'Oceans' was born.
Fariz: We used to be more of an acoustic band before but now we're expanding our range. 'Oceans' is like an evolution from what we used to be. More drums, more layers.
This feature is part of the #saysplaylist series, providing your playlist with a breath of fresh Malaysian air.
If you have any Malaysian bands, singers or songs that you think we should feature, let us know in the comments below!