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Thursday, 31 May 2018 11:52

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Aisyah Zulkarnain, age 22, is known as the first Bruneian to work in the film music industry in the United States. After graduating from the University of Rochester, New York with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and a minor in Studio Arts, she moved to Los Angeles to work at Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions (composer for films such as Dunkirk, Gladiator, Inception, Interstellar and The Lion King) and Henry Jackman’s Sacred Tiger Music (composer for films such as Captain America: Civil War, Kong: Skull Island, Big Hero 6 and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle). Aisyah now works for film composer and guitarist, Bryce Jacobs, as a technical score engineer.

Aisyah has also been collaborating with directors in the United States, including working with award-winning independent filmmaker, Ambarien Alqadar, on her short film entitled Ayesha. The story follows Ayesha (Freya Adams), a 28-year-old American-Muslim girl, who struggles to find her place in a culture where her immigrant father, a taxi driver named Aziz (Rehan Ansari), feels like an outsider. Aziz encounters an ex-marine who served in the Afghanistan war, which triggers a traumatic neurosis and shuts himself away from his family. Ayesha decides to seek medical help for her father, but it brings her in a direct confrontation with her mother, Nadine (Riti Sachdeva), to whom Aziz’s afflictions represent divine punishments.

After the film’s official release in June 2017, Ayesha won an Award of Distinction at the 2017 Canada International Shorts Festival, was nominated for Best Ensemble Narrative Short at the 2018 Queens World Film Festival, and was picked to screen at the 2017 Oil Valley Film Festival. Aisyah’s music in the film utilizes a string ensemble, solo bassoon, solo voice, and a hint of ethnic instruments from South Asia. She also incorporated organic-sounding synthesizers underneath the ensemble to give the score its dark tone.

As an alumna of the International School Brunei, Aisyah’s exposure to traditional Malay music and the music of other cultures impacted her enthusiasm to seek colourful timbres and textural soundscapes, which can be heard in much of her work, including Ayesha. You can also find more of Aisyah’s music on her official website,, and on SoundCloud.

Written by Delwin Keasberry 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.


Written by Shaun Lim 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.


Written by Shaun Lim 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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Written by Shaun Lim Friday, 09 June 2017 11:43

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Editor's Note: In this feature, we get to know Eazy. If he looks familiar, chances are that you have seen his picture or read a sports article in the local newspapers about him. In this candid interview, Eazy shares about the fine art and craft of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), highlights from his journey so far, his thoughts about the BJJ scene in Brunei, and some advice for those considering trying BJJ for themselves.

For more information about the Busiido MMA Fitness and Martial Arts Gym, check out their FB page here.

Tell us about yourself.
My given name is Ahmed Faez Anuar, and people know me by 'Eazy' (named by my father). I'm 31 years old and I'm a Leo! My wife and I share one of god's best gifts, our two year old son Zacky (evidently means the world to us). I'm going to drop a cliché line here, but I do love to travel and explore. My wife and I have been traveling together to numerous places, learning the people, culture, architecture, culinary spread and we don't plan to slow down.

I've always enjoyed outdoor activities and an active lifestyle. From being in the rugby national squad (had the honor to captain for several years), to boxing, to wreck diving (I'm a certified PADI rescue diver), to mountain biking to trail running to mention a fraction. I basically like to occupy my time with fun activities. You really do only live once. Go for it while you still have health and the budget.

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I also like to advocate healthy living. I'm a big fan of it and I know first hand the benefits of it. I am my own success story. I was once 121kgs (heaviest), smoked and barely did any exercise. I remember climbing up the first flight of stairs up Tasek Lama and sat out of breath for 2 hours, I had to be escorted down. nowadays, I run up and down Tasek Lama for two hours. I made a life changing decision in 2005 after a medical check up. I was obese followed by all the worrying results, sugar level, cholesterol, blood pressure...the whole works. Almost instantly, overnight I swore to myself I would change my way of living.

Now I don't eat any fast food, junk food, and i don't drink any carbonated drinks. I avoid anything processed and any cooking with MSG. I'm a vegetarian. I haven't eaten any meat nor chicken since 2014. However I do succumb to salmon and some fishes sometimes. I guess I'm a pescetarian then. People always ask me "so what do you eat / apatah ko makna tu?". Well there are a gazillion delicious dishes you can whip up. My wife and I love to explore with different (vegetarian) recipes in our kitchen. She is an amazing cook and if I may add by keeping me sane and happy by virtue of my tummy. But I do enjoy preparing food with her as this is one of the ways we spend time.

I now manage Busiido MMA fitness and martial arts gym. I also co-coach the Brazilian jiu jitsu / BJJ program, boxing and also the MMA program. I feel like it is a good platform for me to advocate a healthy lifestyle, a healthier living, clean eating and the disciplines through the gym. I'd like to inspire people and take them out of the notion that it is never too late to take the plunge and it isn't hard to do the transition when you do it the right way.

Share with us what is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
From Wikipedia: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art, combat sport system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was formed from Kodokan judo ground fighting (newaza) fundamentals that were taught by a number of individuals including Takeo Yano, Mitsuyo Maeda and Soshihiro Satake. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu eventually came to be its own art through the experiments, practices, and adaptation of judo through Carlos and Helio Gracie (who passed their knowledge on to their extended family) as well as other instructors who were students of Maeda, such as Luiz Franca.

BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger, heavier assailant by using proper technique, leverage, and most notably, taking the fight to the ground, and then applying joint-locks and choke holds to defeat the opponent. BJJ training can be used for sport grappling tournaments and in self-defense situations. Sparring (commonly referred to as rolling) and live drilling play a major role in training, and a premium is placed on performance, especially in competition, in relation to progress and ascension through its ranking system.

Since its inception in 1882, its parent art of judo was separated from older systems of Japanese jujutsu by an important difference that was passed on to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: it is not solely a martial art, but it is also a sport; a method for promoting physical fitness and building character in young people; and, ultimately, a way (Do) of life.

When did your interest for BJJ began and how did you develop your interest?
I love rugby, hands-down. It will be in my blood forever. Being an extreme contact sport, the physicality aspect was part and parcel. So I was accustomed to the grappling, wrestling, tugging and pulling with another human being. In 2009, a friend took me to RBA complex to try out BJJ as part of our rugby off season training. We also boxed for pre-season training, but BJJ bit me and I was poisoned instantly. I guess you can say I have never remedied from it. At the time, there was a CFBT teacher from NZ who was a blue belt conducting classes at RBA complex. It was an intimate group, maybe 3-4 attendees at a time. Oh! did I mention? My wife was one of the attendees/students at the time. YES! she started BJJ before me. I never turned my back from BJJ ever since, hence why I'm here today, living the way I am with my accolades.

#bjj4life #jiujitsusavedmylife #bjjmelayu

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Is there a mentor you look up to?
There is no particular mentor that I look up to. Every person shares a different technique. I appreciate every single person that I have shared the mat with and trained with. Everybody teaches you something new and everybody contributes to the evolution of you game (BJJskills). From the elusive red belts to the white belt warm up partner, everybody plays a part. My success is all due to them, I'm just the delivery man.

I've trained all the way to Brazil (the motherland) to a small and young gym in Pekan Tutong, everybody contributes to 'your' BJJ and shares something new. One thing in common though, everyone gives out positive vibes, it's just the jiujitsu lifestyle. #oss

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Share about some of the competitions you've joined. Which was your fondest memory?
I started competing since 2011 (coming from rugby nationals, I've always loved the competition spirit). Frankly I don't remember the number of tournaments that I have joined, when and where, sorry. There are just too many.

My fondest would have to be my most recent one, Copa De Bangkok 2017, held in Bangkok Thailand just last week (21/4/2017) in which I won double gold. In the BJJ scene, double gold is a sought-after title, which means you won both the individual weight class and the open weight class, a.k.a the absolute division (the most difficult division). It wasn't my first time winning double gold but this time round, I had a lot of trials and tribulations in my personal life, some serious issues where it's better left unsaid. On top of that, my dad had to undergo neuro surgery 2 days before tournament day after battling complications. It was an emotional roller coaster for me, and you know what kept me sane and what kept my family together? It was jiujitsu and faith in God.

So when my hand was raised after winning the absolute division finals, I could help but break down. I don't know how to describe it, but it was as if I came full circle. I am pretty sure this fond memory will stay on for a while.

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Tell us about Busiido BJJ.
We started busiido BJJ in 2011, when David (the Kiwi blubelt) decided that he couldn't make time to teach anymore. I couldn't bare the thought of not training, so I stepped up to the occasion and initiated to lead the training group. I was still a white belt at the time. I met Alwee who had also just started his muaythai / karate dojo at BT complex, next to times square Berakas. I offered to conduct sessions there. Almost 10 years down the line, after two gym relocations, we've transformed from four students a class to 20 plus students per class. Two classes a week to six classes a week excluding open mat sessions. We also have kid's programs now. We have also got affiliate gyms in both Tutong and Seria. Our international success in competitions abroad also continue to soar. Why are we headed on the right path to success (with God's will), again because everybody plays a role in the club's success and growth. Not only in the sport / martial art, but it's welfare, marketing, image, merchandise. All that are taken care of by the very people who train. So I there is passion and love that has been invested in it.

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What's the current BJJ scene in Brunei?
Growing and continuing to grow. We just haven't penetrated Temburong yet. We just need more recognition and more exposure. Not many people understand what BJJ is about and the lay person probably won't understand the whole concept of it. Now our athletes are growing and our investment in the kid's program would surely see a brighter future in the sport. They will also be really good by the time they hit 16 to 18 years of age.

BJJ is slowly being indicted into various contingent based games in Asia. Such as the Asian beach games. This is something we MAY look into in the future as it involves being part of the Brunei contingent. We'll see, let time and beneficial opportunity tell its tale.

Any advice for those who are keen on trying out BJJ?
Get rid of the mindset of 'let me get fit first before I try', 'let me lose weight first before I join', 'I don't want to burn out my cardio in warm ups' and so forth. Fact of the matter is, you will only lose that weight, get fitter ONLY once u join. What are you waiting for? Gassing out in class and in warm ups is inevitable. I can tell u now, even the blue and purple belts still 'gas-out' in class.

Be open to learning the grappling art, be advised that it is a contact sport. If you're not comfortable with other training partners, bring a friend or family member and you both can benefit from it. Allow jiu jitsu to touch you and change your life.

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