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Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People

Thursday, 19 October 2017 09:31

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Editor's Note: I stumbled upon Naqiuddin Ihsan's music seven years ago, and I have been following his music ever since. We have not yet met in person, but having been a fan of his music for so long, I feel like I have known him for years. That's the power of music.

Read on, dear readers, and get to know the artist known as Qwamii.

What is your stage name, and what do you do?

My stage name is Qwamii. I just got back from South Korea doing an internship for six months at the KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). Now I am back in Brunei to continue my final year in Universiti Teknologi Brunei, majoring in BSc (Hons) in Digital Media.

Other than that, I am also a multimedia freelancer.

Describe yourself in a few words.

I grew up in the Belait district, enjoy cafe-hopping, and love the Ayam Goreng Kremes Telor Asin dish from the Bali Pitstop. I am an outgoing socially-conservative introvert. (Not sure if that makes sense, but that is what I am. Haha). I may not initially come across as friendly but once we get to know each other, things will change!

When did you start making music?

I started producing in 2008. My first few tracks were based on Happy Hardcore and Hard Dance genres. Home-based-studio producers (just like bedroom singers) such as EnV and B0UNC3 from were the first ones to inspire me to produce music.
Which artists influence your music?

My first few influences were Hardstyle producers which were Blutonium Boy, Showtek and the Dark Oscillators. Then from 2009, I shifted to Tech Dance and Tech Trance because I wanted to produce tracks heavily influenced by Kidd Kaos (a.k.a. Kris Ryeland), an award winning 20-year-old Hard Trance / Tech Dance producer.

Later, I moved towards Electro House, Progressive House, Progressive Trance and Uplifting Trance, following the footsteps of Simon Patterson, Dash Berlin, Armin van Buuren and all other legendary Trance producers.

Now, I produce more towards Future Bass and mainstream EDM. My current influences are The Chainsmokers, sumthin sumthin and Lauv.

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What was the first music album you ever bought?

My first album was Linkin’ Park’s Collision Course (2004). I did not know anything about techno, trance or any electronic music back then. My first genres I was exposed to were like Rock, Hip Hop, Rap and R&B.

What do you use to produce your music?

I use a 15” MacBook Pro Retina running Windows on dual boot. I make my music using a Digital Audio Workstation that is currently supported only on Windows. Why a MacBook? This is because I move around a lot when I make music. Most of my time is spent in cafes. (Sometimes people address me as “The Cafe Music Producer”.)
Describe the music scene in Brunei.

Live band performances are popular in Brunei. On the other hand, EDM is also on the rise. Music producers can go to two ends: Public or private (ghost producer) or even both. Nowadays, I can say the multimedia industry is also growing, creating more opportunities and allowing music-related talents to embed their products & services in.

Share a few highlights from your journey so far.

My highlights include winning the Beyond Compulsion Remix Competition by Clayfac3r in 2010, participating in the Signal Remix Competition by Cymatics, and having my tracks played at a few local events such as TEDxYouth(at)Gadong and YES Letop.

The biggest highlight so far? Being featured on Kristal FM. A special thank you to Kueymo and Sushiboy and Kristal FM for dedicating an hour to my tracks! Be sure to check them out as they keep uncovering more local music producers!

Word-of-Mouth marketing is crucial, especially in a small place like Brunei. Have you had the experience of any of your songs going 'viral' in Brunei or beyond?

One of my tracks Adai Adai went viral in Brunei. It was just a random thing I did. I recorded it using my iPhone and then I posted in on Facebook. It exploded to 7,000 views! I really did not expect that it would get so much support. With that, it motivated me to make a full version of the song.

Another track that went viral internationally is my remix of Avicii’s Levels which now has reached over 71,000 listens on both SoundCloud and YouTube. I am still surprised that the number of listens continues to rise to this day!

Sometimes the hit songs are the ones you least expect.

Which social platforms do you utilise to share your music, and why?
Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and SoundCloud. This depends on which platform my listeners are most comfortable with. I want to get my music to my listeners as conveniently as possible.

What are key lessons you have learnt from your journey as a musician?

One, never give up. You don’t fail until you stop trying.

Two, networking is the utmost importance. You never know what new opportunities you open yourself to when you make new connections.

Three, don’t wait for opportunities. Look for them. This was my biggest mistake before.

Complete this sentence "In three years time, I...."

...will keep continuing to and push my music career and penetrate the international market more.


Wednesday, 09 August 2017 15:11

Curtin Jaison

Photo: Jaison (left) displaying his awards with Dean of Faculty of Engineering and Science Prof Lau Hieng Ho and Dr Stephanie Chan

Miri – 8 August 2017 – Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) higher degree by research (HDR) student Jaison Jeevanandam did his university proud by winning a gold medal at the recent 3rd World Invention and Innovation Contest (WiC) 2017.

Jaison won on the merits of his novel idea entitled ‘Multi-compartment Antimicrobial Nanoformulation for Food Packaging’ which he presented at the prestigious international contest held at the Convention Center of Chung Mu Art Hall in Seoul, South Korea.

Jaison was supervised Dr Stephanie Chan Yen Shan and Professor Michael Danquah of the Chemical Engineering Department at Curtin Malaysia’s Faculty of Engineering and Science. His idea was one of 150 innovative ideas winning awards.

Friday, 04 August 2017 13:01

MAIN1 Editor's Note: In this Q&A, we chat with Jasmyne Koh from Juste Leather. Juste Leather has also been featured on BizBrunei, Borneo Insider's Guide, and PechaKucha. Read on to find out about the origins of Juste Leather, and the inspirations behind her other startup, Dyvan Co. To find out more about Juste Leather, follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Jasmyne. I am the co-founder and designer for Dyvan Co and Juste Leather. I did not start out in the same field as my business. I was an Economics and Accounting student. To be honest with you, the only interesting part of my studies was my involvement in this creative project which then made me pursue a degree in Art & Design.

When did your interest in the craft of leather work begin?

It was during my travels. I noticed that leather was everywhere. The summer sales in Europe were bursting with leather goods. Even in our everyday lives, you will notice that a lot of our essentials are made of leather. That’s when I found my craft.

In term of craftsmanship, I learnt most of the skills online. Why handmade? It’s just better. Artists and craftspeople making leather products spend a lot of time and put their soul into a piece of work rather than mass producing them. So every piece of the leather goods are unique; they are never the same.

Share with us about Juste Leather.

Juste Leather is a handmade leather product company based in Brunei. The name “Juste” Leather derived from the French word “Just” meaning we are mainly working on just leather products.

Handmade leather things have better strength and durability. A lot of people do not know the different types of leathers out there. Juste Leather uses vegetable tanned leather because vegetable-tanning is the true "chromium-free" method, and does not have harmful chemicals. The beauty of vegetable tanned leather is that it was recently salvaged to provide an alternative material in fashion. It can last an entire lifetime.



How would you describe the style of Juste Leather.

There’s a saying. “Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important.” This is true, especially in this period of time where people have worries from responsibilities, commitment, etc. So most of our designs are based on minimalism. Minimalism is one of the design trends that just never get old. It is classic and classy. Most of my initial designs came from my own experiences in life. Stylish practicality was my priority. Later on, we decided to take people’s feedback as reference so we can decide how we can improve our products.

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Tell us about your leather craft workshops.
Yes! We recently started fun leather craft group workshops and classes for the public to encourage and create more awareness about leather and craftsmanship. Anyone can join and try their hands at making their own beloved accessories. We are happily nurturing our growing business and at the same time.
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Tell us about Dyvan Co.

The magic of 3D printing really struck me when I was traveling in Paris. At some point after seeing all the possibilities of 3D printing all around the creative scene during my travels, I was convinced that I should come back and do 3D Printing. I came back to Brunei with only $300, met up with my high school senior and said “Hey, let’s do 3D Printing”. So a group of us who shared the same interest gathered and started Dyvan Co.

Dyvan Co. currently helps students from higher institution print prototype for their projects. The students design and build their own unique prototypes with the help of 3D printing to validate their ideas and showcase them. I am happy that students in similar degrees now have the opportunity that I didn't have. We are very much a pioneering 3D printing business here. We enjoy helping clients arrive at their finished products.

Any advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs?

From my perspective as a designer, find your style, your passion and build a portfolio out of it.

Also, there is a saying, “If you want to go far, go together”. I am very lucky to have met people who support me: my family, my partners, my friends and the collective community.


Thursday, 13 July 2017 15:02

1 Curtin Malaysia largest international campus and Asian hub of Curtin University a global world ranked university

Miri – 12 July 2017 – Many consider a university’s continual strong showing in global academic rankings a reliable indicator of the quality and status of the institution, including its industry connections, research, courses and employability of its graduates.

Curtin University is a case in point, with a strong global reputation that has seen it rise up the international university rankings in recent years. It rose significantly to 262nd position in the world in the recent QS World University Ranking (QSWUR) 2017-18, up from 306th in 2016-17, and was placed 15th nationally. It is also ranked in the top two per cent of universities worldwide and 10th in Australia in the highly regarded Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2016.

Pro Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive of Curtin University, Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia), Curtin University’s largest international campus and Asian hub here in Malaysia, said Curtin University’s outstanding global rankings, coupled with the professional accreditation of its courses, have contributed greatly to the reputation and strength of the Curtin programmes Curtin Malaysia offers at degree and postgraduate levels.

Students at Curtin Malaysia study courses identical to those at the other Curtin campuses and the degrees they earn are conferred directly by Curtin University. In addition, they enjoy a similar learning experience and support mechanisms and are offered flexibility in completing their degrees at one of the other campuses.

Tuesday, 04 July 2017 12:18

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Tell us about yourselves.
Ying: I like stories, art, and food. Not necessarily in that order all the time haha! Australia and Switzerland were amazing countries to experience living in. I majored in Creative Arts and English, and my last office job was as a business journalist for a now defunct local paper. I love traveling and nature, and I take advocacy for the environment and the oceans very seriously! I skate, surf when there are waves, and love to freedive. Stephen King is the King (ha ha) of horror.

Huwaida: I enjoy listening to and telling stories. I gravitate towards history, human stories, the wild world of physics and quantum physics, and a whole more.  My career has been varied; I’ve hopped industries, roles and countries. I believe everything can be learned, we just have to find the right teacher.

When did your interest in writing began? Who are your role models?
Ying: I'm told I started composing stories while I was still in primary school. I've always loved writing as a form of communication, especially poetry, which I attribute to a very healthy reading habit and an excellent A Levels English Literature class (Thanks Ms. Payne!) Most of my heroes in writing when I was younger were classic English poets and American writers like Wordsworth, Marvel, John Updike; authors I was able to study in depth. These days I'm partial to authors writing from a unique perspective so it's usually stories about unusual experiences (fictional or otherwise).

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Huwaida: I’ve always loved reading. Growing up I held close the typical dream of all bookworms under moon – either work as a librarian or in a book store. In terms of writing, I journal everyday. I’ve used that as a way to make things happen for me – like put dreams into words, clarify what I want or feel, and even personal projects like understanding how to forgive, better my relationship with loved ones, deliberate over my place in the world. I’ve kept my journals over the years. I go through at least six of them annually. I don't have role models per se. There are a lot of great writers out there. I believe that there are many ways to tell a story. It's essence that's the most important, to get the essence of the story out there.

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Tell us about Heartwrite.
We're an independent communications company, with a fledgling publishing arm called Heartwrite Publishing. We write for people, we tell their stories, and help them to convey ideas in the most accurately meaningful way that we can with words.

Tell us about the first publication.
It’s a kid’s book, in appearance. We wanted to come up with a story that is set in Brunei, so that when you open it and see the artwork, you can place it at this part of the world. The story itself is more universal and speaks to the inner child in every person. A young Bruneian girl, Nina, is visiting Tasek Merimbun with her grandfather. She is curious about the world around her, asking what’s big and bigger and biggest. The grandfather, Kong Kong, is kind and patient when answering the kid’s questions. In the end though, she has an idea that just blows his mind – as kids do! This was a really fun project, a labour of love which literally took us nine months from start to finish! You should know it is in French.

What do you think of the writing and reading culture in Brunei?
Ying: It's an interesting time for writers in Brunei. It feels like the creative arts scene has really blossomed in the last couple of years, and for writers it's a really exciting time as it's becoming more recognised as a skill and an art in Brunei. Creative or copywriting still has a way to go. People still aren't willing to value writing as a legitimate profession - yet. Key word at the end there! The culture of reading has always been around but it was always regarded as a 'nerdy' thing to do or something to pass the time. I feel like readers are a little more invested now though in owning their passion for books- we have all kinds of book clubs, independent sellers curating great collections, and discussion groups dedicated to readers and writers, like a feminist book club and regular events organised by B:read which is a local organisation focused on improving the reading culture in Brunei. We do monthly Writer's Jams where anyone can come and learn about new genres of writing, or just get feedback on their work. There's also Spoken Word which we co-run with Bruhaha and it happens every fortnight.

Huwaida: Lots of writers are writing in secret and sporadically. We've met a few good ones through the jams and people who just get in touch with us. It's a time of change, for sure. Writing can be a courageous act, and we've been seeing more people stepping up. It's gorgeous.

What would you like more done locally?
More poetry, please! and more analytical or critical work. It's a overlooked skill in the creative writers eye, I feel.


Any future plans for Heartwrite you'll like to share?
Recently we launched Bookish Charms, a collaboration with Enya Bijoux. It's a for-charity jewelry line inspired by stories. The first collection was based on Malay Folk tales. Proceeds from the sale goes to two local charities. We aim to continue this project, to bring together writers, artists and crafters to create something that others can enjoy for its own sake, and do good at the same time. A lot of what we do revolves around telling stories. It is one of the first ways that people relate to and connect with each other. Ying is passionate about the ocean and I'm a practicing tree hugger. We're not experts but sustainability, green living, etc, are something that we want to get into more. And we want to share that learning with others.

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Any advice for young writers out there?
Trust, and don't be afraid to reach out - to other writers, for critiques, advice, exchanging ideas, challenges. And know that the first draft is like a friend - open to conversation, great at listening, and won't judge you if you need to make a few improvements here and there.  

Keep a notebook and pen handy always! You never know when inspiration will strike so make sure you have somewhere to keep all those ideas / thoughts, and develop on them later.

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About the Editor

new about me profI am a born and bred Bruneian who lived and worked in Australia for over 10 years. I am now based in Brunei. Having spent time away from Brunei, I have learnt that, to know a country is to know the people. To truly appreciate a new place is to see it through their eyes, to listen to their stories, to taste, smell, do and feel as they do.

Everyone has a Story, and this blog - Projek Brunei, features the stories, music, photography and art of locals and of people who have lived or worked in Brunei before. Join me on this project, a project to discover and rediscover this country they call the Abode of Peace, the Heart of Borneo, this place they call the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures...through the stories of the People.

You may know me by my online moniker, @BruneiTweet. I created BruneiTweet in 2009, and currently (October 2016), I have over 30,000 followers. I am passionate about community, and use social media to connect with people - both on and offline.

I have an MBA, a keen interest in business-development and marketing, and I am a three-time TEDx speaker. I believe in the power of social media and collaboration. I have worked alongside corporate organisations on various community projects. Some highlights from my journey to date: In 2011, I co-organised Twestival Brunei to raise awareness and funds for Brunei’s Child Development Centre. That year I also organised Convergence, Brunei’s first youth led leadership forum. In 2012, I co-organised Movember to raise awareness on men's health issues. In 2013, I participated at various forums including Brunei's National Environment Conference and the ASEAN Social Media Exchange in Thailand. In 2014, I was selected to represent Brunei at the Australia-ASEAN Emerging Leaders Programme. In 2015, I was involved as a panel moderator in an International Women's Day event, and was invited to speak at the Green Leaders Eco-Camp in Brunei about using social media with purpose.
But enough about me.

If you have something interesting to share with the rest of the world about Brunei or are interested in being featured on ProjekBrunei, reach me here or email me at

I would love to hear your side of the story.

You, You and You

Something interesting to share with the rest of the world about Brunei? Interested in being featured on Reach me here.