Wednesday 28 October 2020

An Interview With MARIJANNAH

MARIJANNAH burst onto the scene back in 2018 when the band released their acclaimed debut album Till Marijannah and built up a well deserved fan-base within the scene. This band who come from Singapore knew how to write damn mean riff that paid homage to bands such as SLEEP and BLACK SABBATH.

The band released their even better follow-up - ISTANAH - back in December 2019 via Cursed Tongue Records. Before COVID-19 hit, the band were ready to make future touring plans. With that mind, MARIJANNAH will be releasing new live album - Istanah Live At The Projector on November 13th. Which will see the band performing their latest live album in full.

I caught up with MARIJANNAH where we discuss the evolution of the band and their upcoming new Live Album.

Hi Guys. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today.

Thank you for having us. We’re doing alright.

For people not in the know. Can you give a brief history of how the band came together and where it is today.

We’re a stoner/doom band from Singapore. We write songs about horror movies and have released 2 full length albums.

Nicholas and Rasyid, some folks may know you guys from your work with The Caulfield Cult and WORMROT respectively. Marijannah is quite a departure form those two fantastic bands. How did you guys come up wit the idea of starting a Doom/Stoner Metal band.

We both listen to quite a wide spectrum of music and have multiple projects that sound nothing alike one another so it was pretty natural for us to explore new sounds and collaborate with different musicians. This was just one that clicked and took off.

Have you guys always been big fans of the Doom/Stoner Metal scene. Which bands first got you interested in this style of music.

I can’t say that I am. I grew up with hardcore punk, the rest of the guys have more metal beginnings than I do. Uncle acid & the deadbeats and Sleep got me infatuated with doom.

You released your first album Till Marijannah back in Feb 2018. And the album was acclaimed by fans and critics alike. Did that reaction surprise you in anyway. It surprised me when I first heard it. Loads of fantastic and heavy based Stoner riffs.

It definitely did. The band is just the 4 of us, we have no management of PR and we sent out 0 press to the media when the album came out. So it was pretty surprising to see it being covered rather heavily. Having a member of Wormrot in the band helped, I'm not gonna lie.

What was the reaction like to the album in Singapore. As I know the album was admired hugely within the global Doom/Stoner Metal community.

It was really good. We put on our first show ourselves with a mixed genre lineup and it was packed to the brim. Even though it was only a small 120 cap room, we certainly didn’t expect that as there aren’t any other similar active bands here in Singapore and this is such a niche style of music outside the metal community.

You released your 2nd album ISTANAH back in December 2019 and it was quite a different affair to your debut album. It was more doomier and less Stoner based than your debut album. Was that the original intent to release something different.

We definitely didn’t set out to purposefully do anything different. Our writing process is quite organic.

Cursed Tongue Records released the album which is owned by my good pal Niels. How did you hook up with Niels. And will you be working with CTR in the future.

We had an unfortunate falling out with the label who released our first album so we were sort of on the lookout to work with someone new. We noticed Cursed Tongue Records sharing our album on their social media a few times and decided to reach out. It was a very pleasant and fuss-free experience. Our contract was only tied to that 1 album so who knows what the future holds, we’re definitely not opposed to working together again.

You’re releasing a new live album Istanah Live At The Projector on November 13th. Which will see you performing your latest album in full with no crowd present. Mainly due to COVID-19 happening. How did this idea come about to do a performance such as this.

Our record release show for ‘Istanah’ actually happened on the very same day Singapore banned live performances because of COVID-19. So there’s been close to no live promotion for the album since its release. I actually quite enjoyed the ‘break’ to be honest. We regrouped 4 months later and discussed what are the things we could do. The director and I have been speaking for years about working together so this was an obvious decision. Also, our songs are written about music so this was a natural pairing.

Was it daunting performing in front of an empty venue. And did you record everything in one-take or did it take a few attempts.

It felt like practice with cameras on. We recorded 3 takes and picked the best one. I didn’t record with a metronome so no editing could be done. Be prepared to hear some missed notes and off-key singing.

Ryan Chang (known for his work with GHOST) directed the set. How did you get Ryan involved with this. And what was the overall experience like working with Ryan.

Ryan is an old friend of mine. He’s worked with and toured with 2 of my other bands years ago. He moved to the UK 7 years ago and has been working with big bands on big tours, including a 2-month-long stadium tour in Europe last year with Metallica and Ghost, and Knotfest in Mexico. He had to come back to Singapore due to COVID-19 so thought it was a good opportunity to finally work together again. 

I’m a big fan of Ryan, his work rate and passion are second to none. We click well when trying to create something and I trust his vision and craft completely. The only problem is that we support rival football teams. He’s an arsenal fan and I’m a spurs fan. You know what, forget everything I said, I hate him.

Will this album be receiving a physical release in the future. Or just a Digital Release at the moment.

There will be a physical release.

COVID-19 has pretty much put a stop to all life as we know it for the time being. How big of an impact has it affected the band. And how are you surviving in this stressful time.

Obviously it was quite shit to not be able to tour or perform the album that we spent time and effort in but there were more important issues in the world. We’re just adapting our lives to being responsible and safe for ourselves and the ones around us. We’ll go back to gigging when it makes sense to.

After everything is back to some sort of normality. What does the future hold for Marjiannah. Will you be touring the record in Asia or perhaps in the USA or Europe.

USA and Europe are definitely long overdue for us. We’ll play anywhere as long as there are people who’d want to watch us. Don’t think anything will happen in the next 6-12 months at least though so I’d like to keep writing material.

What have been your favourite records that you’ve heard this year. Regardless of genre.

Choir Boy’s ‘Toxic Eye’ and Fearing’s ‘Shadow’.

Thanks for doing this interview. Before you go, do you have any words of wisdom that you want to say to your fans.

Stay safe and listen to Doldrey.

Words by Steve Howe and MARIJANNAH

Thanks to Nicholas for arranging this interview and for MARIJANNAH for taking the time out to talking to us.


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