ProjekBrunei.com - Social Media Posts
Editor's Note: We are happy to introduce you to Fairuz 'Zabady. He's a recognised figure in the street art scene in Brunei. In this feature, Fai shares about his humble beginnings and offers sage advice from years of practising this craft. Follow his journey on Instagram @stain.bn and reach out to him for all things murals, graffiti and art supplies and workshops. Keep up the good work, bro!
Tell us about yourself.
For my day job, I'm a film maker working at Origin Films. But my first love has always been painting. I graduated from University of Southampton, UK with a Masters Degree in Fine Arts and have been actively painting (specifically Graffiti Art) since 2005.
When did your passion for art begin?
Both my parents are creatives, I guess that's where I got most of the drive from. I've always enjoyed drawing, scribbling and painting ever since I can remember. But about 2005 was when I first picked up and fell in love with spray paint, graffiti and its culture, the rest was history. It was unique, rebellious and I was determined to be the best at it. It became my main medium of producing art.
How did you develop your talent? Share with us your choice in medium of art.
I never considered myself talented, but people started noticing my work. Maybe because spray paint was not an ordinary medium to use for painting, and the attention that I received from it, drove me to do better each time I produced an artwork. I spent a lot of time experimenting with my medium, trying out different techniques and brands, analyzing my latest work, and to identify what needs to be improved, added, removed in the next one. My work consists of a lot of visual problem solving to achieve a piece of work that is visually pleasing. I spent years with this process. I painted almost daily when I could.
At the start, did you have a mentor or attend workshops?
With graffiti, it's a very lonely world when you are starting out. It still is. Maybe it's because of the negative connotation that lingers around it. You secretly sketch in your sketchbook out of interest / curiosity and there isn't anybody to tell you what's wrong or right. It was the same for me too. I never attended any workshops nor had a mentor, and everything in my practice is self-taught. This was because these resources were not easily available. All I had were "graff" friends and we bounced ideas and sketches off each other and that's how we improved.
After a while, you will start to notice your own weaknesses in your work and act upon them. We were our own mentors. We had to figure out ourselves how to work the spray paint, which nozzles to use, which brands to use, etc. But today, with the advanced technology of internet and social media, everything is within reach. A simple search on YouTube can already teach you the basics of graffiti.
In your perspective, what do you think about the art scene in Brunei?
Young and a little bit all over the place.
It's not a bad thing, and because it's dominated by the youth, the drive is strong. Everybody wants to prove something in their work and it's great. However, it's not as united as it should be. Maybe because the support given to creatives are limited, whether in the sense of education or even professionally. We grow up brainwashed to accept the skewed fact "If you aren't smart enough, you go to art class". So when artists try to make a living here professionally, we are considered less equal and less valuable by majority of the public regardless of how talented one is.
Within the art communities itself, it is noticed that the political / personal agendas affect the unity of the art community as a whole. The unity between the different generations (young & old) of artists is also non-visible. I strongly believe, Art should speak as one, art should have a united voice. There is much growing up to do in the current art scene in Brunei.
Any suggested solutions?
A more focused syllabus in the art education system. Also, greater support for the local artists by relevant bodies. And of course, someday an arts district to be allocated, where everything creative is in one area/place, including more wall space for our mural art.
Are they any future projects or something you're working on that you'd like to share with everyone?
The second Graffiti Art competition "Write This". Which is scheduled to happen middle of the year. If you've missed last year's, check out these videos on YouTube.
Finally, any advice to those who want to get into graffiti art?
A lot of of the younger creatives that I've met always question their ability to produce good work. They don't believe in themselves enough to produce good work, or refuse to challenge themselves to produce work because they are scared of judgement, or come up with many excuses to start making good work, for example the latest I've heard when I asked, "When are you gonna start with spray?". To my surprise their answers were along the lines of "nda berani bro, tunggu handal bro." Which loosely translates to "I'm not courageous enough, wait till I become an expert".
In a country of limited freedom of expression, there should be a drive to produce more mind awakening art. But instead we see a wave of "Let's not do that because we might get into trouble". We need to rid ourselves off this mentality. Work within your bubble, but make the bubble grow. My advice is, to tell you the hard truth. I did not get to where I am just by talent alone. It took years of almost daily painting and practice to master my art, and I am still learning constantly.
Every day is a learning process. The more you wait, the more you are scared to learn from your mistakes and another day is lost for improvement. If you are interested in graffiti, just pick up that spray can and do it. There's nothing to lose if you start now. If you need specific technique advice, just contact me on Instagram, I'll do my best to advice.
Editor's Note: Since 2010, Projek Brunei has aimed to help re-tell the Brunei story through the stories of the people. Everyone has a story, and we believe that the more we listen to the perspectives of others, the more time we take to understand someone else's point of view, the richer and fuller our own perspectives and opinions become. We have interviewed close to 100 people - students, professionals, NGOs, expats, creatives, etc - and it does not cease to amaze us how, truly, everyone is unique with their own stories.
In this feature, I chat with social media influencer, Nabeela from Lipstickmyname. She talks about what makes her tick, fashion muses, and shares a few highlights from her colourful journey so far. Be sure to check out her website and IG too.
What do you do?
I always find it difficult to answer when asked to describe what I do. The title sort of bounces back and forth between a fashion-blogger and a social media influencer. I'd like to think of Lipstickmyname as a brand that features the style and clothes that are personally curated by me. Currently, I work with a lot of international brands but I hope with this platform, together with our local designers and other local bloggers, we can elevate the fashion/apparel industry in Brunei and connect it with other markets.
Describe yourself in a few words.
I have asked my best friends to give me a word each because you know what they say, best friends know you better. They came up with the following: Strong. Brave. Strong-headed. Playful. Passionate. Perfectionist. Audacious. They forgot to mention that I am also a dreamer and my head's always stuck in the clouds... but thankfully, I married someone who is always willing to pull me back down to earth.
What are you passionate about?
Fashion. Fashion to me is a form of expression, because you choose what you want to wear, what colour, how you style it, etc. Designs have stories behind them and I am always in awe when designers come up with the unimaginable. I think my favourite thing about it is when you can see the runway being inspired by real-life situations. For example, athleisure (a trend where sportswear is meant to be worn casually) was really turned up a notch when Olympics was held in London and now with all the news on U.S. politics, Balenciaga's A/W 2017 fashion show was inspired by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders!
Music. Music is like a time-machine. It transports you to a specific place in time. A bad break-up, falling in love, silly times with your girl friends... it's all bottled up in a three minute song. It's something I will always appreciate.
Cities. The hustle and bustle of a big city will always excite me. The busy streets, bright lights, high street shopping, sky high buildings, established public transportation systems, the diversity of cultures... I can go on. I studied Urban Economic Development in London a few years back and learnt a lot about cities, how they came about, their sustainability, how they're regulated... it's all very interesting.
What are your impressions about the fashion scene in Brunei?
I think it has always been there, but it has recently gained momentum and I do hope that our fashion industry can become a really successful one. We have always talked about diversification and I truly believe it's something that could work. Last year, there were a lot of fashion events, mostly in modest fashion and for bridal wear, we see more of our local designers penetrating foreign markets, an increase in stores carrying international labels and a lot of bloggers getting international exposure.
In 2016, you attended a few international fashion events. What were some highlights from those experiences?
i. Meeting all the people! I definitely fangirled over a few celebrities and social media personalities!
ii. Sitting front row at Adila Long's KLFW presentation in a custom Adila Long jumpsuit that she gifted to me. The jumpsuit was made from the fabric that was used during the show.
iii. Sitting front row next to Emma (@emmashazleen) and Faa (@faafirds) at the FashionValet show in Jakarta.
Who are some of your favorite designers / labels? Why?
Right now I can only pin it down two Malaysian designers. Number one, Adila Long. She is actually an architect, and me being a hardcore fan of structure, it's no surprise really that I love everything she does. And number two, Nurita Harith. Her designs are always impeccable, dainty and just... goddess-like. In terms of high street brands, Zara is my go-to place to shop. It has everything I'm looking for. I never leave that shop empty-handed!
You have an active and likeable Instagram account. Why is social media important for what you do?
Social media enables you to cross borders and market your products without having to actually leave the country. My followers come from Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, the UK, etc and with that I'm able to spread brand awareness across a wider audience.
Any interesting events or projects coming up in 2017?
Ooh! I can't say! Because I don't want to scare my luck away hehe! But I do have a few things lined up for the year and hopefully it will all work out well.
Complete this sentence: In three years...
...hopefully achieve the things I want in life and be proud of what I've accomplished.
If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give the 21 year old you?
I was in my final year in Nottingham when I was 21. So... I'd probably tell myself to drop Time Series Analysis and take an easier module, buy better clothes and travel more.
Finally, any shoutouts?
I think my husband deserves the biggest shoutout for being such an amazing support. I wouldn't be able to do what I love to do, if it weren't for him.
Editor's Note: The first time I met Kueymo and Sushiboy was at a function. I noticed their music first. "EDM? YES!" (I am a huge fan of EDM music.) And then I noticed them. Two fellas handling a setup of hardware, flicking tabs, tapping on buttons, head-bopping away to the bass, not once missing a beat.
You may not know them in person, but you may know their sound. They are on the radio every Saturday night on KFM, and they are on Mixcloud and iTunes. Read on and get to know the gentlemen behind KYSB, Kueymo and Sushiboy!
Tell us about yourselves.
Kueymo: Hey hey! we go by the name of Kueymo & Sushiboy, but you can call us Edmund & Riff. Both of us go way back to when we we're still kids studying in the same school and we just did everything together, from sports to shuffling and here we are now DJ-ing! Sushiboy was actually the first of us two to learn to DJ when he was in Australia furthering his studies, while I went to UK to play University Basketball.
Sushiboy: Yeah, I studied in Brisbane, Australia for 4 years, but I was already into Electronic Music before that but never had the chance to own a device. In Australia DJ-ing is a thing and the devices are everywhere, so I took the opportunity to get one to call my own and that became one of my many hobbies. Just messing around with the buttons & knobs and getting some tips from my good friend, DJ Rory who is now one of the best DJs in Brisbane. My other hobbies include trying out new food and going to gym after regretting eating too much.
Kueymo: I can relate as well, I love food! other than DJ-ing, I love to travel a lot even if it's just alone or for the weekend. I guess that's why I'm growing up a few shirt sizes. I also enjoy reading a good book and hitting the gym whenever I can.
How did your interest for music begin and when did you decide you wanted to be a DJ?
Kueymo: We've always had the love for music in general. But what really sparked our interest was when we were about 15 or 16, we were really passionate about shuffling. We would just shuffle on for hours at a time everyday losing track of time. I guess the songs just kept us going and the harder the better! We we're heavily influenced by Hardstyle DJ's from the likes of Headhunterz, Bass Agents, Bass Oscillators, NoiseControllers, Showtek and the list goes on.
Sushiboy: Yea, I remember those shuffling dance days, Hardstyle Music actually made me love Electronic Music more to be honest, and I still love Hard Music. I always wanted to be a DJ ever since I fell in love with Electronic Music, so I started off mixing tracks using Virtual DJ on my laptop. I only started advancing in Australia because as a university student there isn't much to do, so got myself a proper DJ Controller and learnt more tricks and getting more tips from there on.
Kueymo: I actually started DJ-ing on my Samsung phone roughly 2 years ago. The aim then was to replace the slow parts in a track with a much more hyped up tempo. It was a tricky process especially on a phone and eventually I decided to get a controller to get the basics in. Countless hours learning off youtube and with criticisms online, I started to get better at it.
Sushiboy: To be honest, I only wanted to go further when I discovered that my friend Edmund (Kueymo) had the same interest in DJ-ing. That's when the duo was formed. I know going duo with a person that does all the craziest things with you is more fun than going solo. I've never regretted being in a duo with Kueymo, we both share the same goal, the same ideas and the same passion. A true definition of "Bromance" right here!
Kueymo: Us being DJ's was always about bringing the EDM culture in Brunei and move it away from the social stigma that comes with it. We started our radio show with the help of Kristal FM last September in an attempt to reach out to the local producers and DJ's to give them a platform for them to air their mixes, original productions and remixes. So far everyone has proven to be nothing short of amazing! You'd be amaze by how many talented individuals we have, some even making it big internationally in Australia, Malaysia and even Singapore!
How did you come up with the names "Kuey Mo" and "Sushi Boy"?
Kueymo: Well it's going to sound really childish but I was given this name when I was very young but basically a girl I liked gave me the name and it was escalated when her boyfriend came looking for me shortly after to show his dismay. I continued using the name just out of pure fun to annoy the boyfriend, but the name only stuck with me after I started uploading my shuffling videos on to Youtube.
Sushiboy: Many of my friends start calling me 'Sushi', especially my Bandar friends because of my love for sushi after my incredible discovery of the newly open Excapade Restaurant back then.
Share your earlier performing experiences and your most memorable one.
Sushiboy: Hmm, I guess the most memorable one in Brunei would have to be our performance at BpmFASS. We played festival vibe EDM to everyone, We were nervous at first because we don’t know how the crowd would react to this genre of music but WOW! they were enjoying the music, cheering and playing along with the tracks!
Kueymo: I'd have to say the same! BpmFASS would be the most memorable out of all our events. Talking about our earlier experience, we started off just playing house parties, sometimes with just 2 or 3 people during a BBQ but it didn't matter as we'd still put on a show with mashups and live remixes. I guess the saying goes that you won't be able to get big crowds until you're used to playing to an empty room.
Share with us about the 100 most influential young entrepreneurs 2016?
Kueymo: The 100 most influential young entrepreneurs 2016 was a superb event! It's organized by our friends at Entrepreneur Insight who heavily focuses on start ups and SME's. It was a great opportunity to connect with the many young entrepreneurs from across Malaysia and pick their brains on the subject. Hopefully we'll be able to apply it in our daily dealings. We obviously didn't win, we were mainly there to support our very good friends Leng Yein & Leng Sean AKA The Leng Sisters!
Sushiboy: It was a great experience to see our good friends claiming their spot in the Top100; they've been there for us since the very beginning, kind of like our role models. Similarly to being a duo, they've taught us a lot on what we needed to know in the business so it's a very good feeling to be able to be there for them as they receive their award.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
Kueymo: For our radio show, we're always looking for new guest mixes from international DJ's that the audience wishes to connect with! We've scheduled quite a few of them into the first quarter of next year, but towards the end of the year, we've got something big planned! so make sure to keep connected to our instagram @KYSBofficial and stay tuned!
Sushiboy: Definitely 2017 is going to be big for us. I won't say only us but also the local producers that we are working with. One of our aim next year is to push the local producers further, to get them known better by collaborating with them, introducing their tracks to other international labels and maybe also get their tracks heard internationally! We want to bring 'The Family' up with us and basically bring Brunei EDM to new heights! Other upcoming projects for 2017 would be to perform in clubs and festivals in the region and of course we do not only prioritizes performing outside of Brunei but we are always looking forward to events in Brunei; special mention to BpmFass & TheCreativeCore BN. These are some of the people who show true passion in helping local talents. Much Love Friends! Big Ups!
Any words of encouragement to those interesting in being a DJ?
KYSB: Just get out there! Take every opportunity you can to share your work; one step at a time. If you have a friend that wants to learn to DJ or Produce, share your knowledge, learn together. There are always people who wants to listen to your work and we are always open to listen to any work! Do anything you can to improve, by any means necessary!
Editor's Note: In this feature, we get to know Karen Then. She's a makeup artist and body painting specialist based in Brunei. She has a YouTube channel where she shares online makeup tutorials, plus the occasional vlog. Check out the rest of her portfolio on karenthen.com and follow her journey on Instagram, @Karenthenmakeup and @karenthen.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a trained and certified makeup artist and body painting specialist based in Brunei. I graduated from one of the most prestigious make up academies in Hong Kong, MAKE UP FOR EVER. I also graduated in the MAKE UP FOR EVER Paris branch, the TV & Cinema make up academy. Despite having been certified, I constantly push the boundaries of my skills to new horizons and put tireless effort in improving my finesse.
As a professional makeup artist, I have worked with various people from different industries and backgrounds; such as singers, actors, models, wedding couples, corporate companies and a vast variety of domestic and international clientele. I have also conducted a couple roadshows, makeup workshops, and private makeup tutoring in Brunei, Malaysia, Hong Kong and hopefully Singapore and other parts of the region. I pursued my passion in hopes of bringing the art and finesse of make up to a new level. I pay much attention and devotion to the small details and focus on providing my clients the best.
Ultimately, I want to ensure client satisfaction above all else. So guys and girls, follow and/or subscribe to my links and I promise to keep you updated! Career and work aside, I enjoy keeping fit. I find a level of satisfaction working and sweating it out. I also enjoy the simple pleasures in life, and appreciate the small things, like playing with my dogs and going to the beach!
When did you decide that you wanted to be a make-up artist?
During my tertiary studies at the University of South Australia, I played and explored with makeup whenever time permitted. I somehow found myself so passionate about makeup. I often had friends over to make makeup tutorials and videos. I even helped friends with their makeup and hair styling for events or functions. I really enjoyed and was intrigued by the whole process; hence decided to pursue training after I graduated.
What fascinates you about this line of work?
Makeup is, to me, a truly magical form of artistry! I love seeing how makeup is able to transform someone’s appearance and attitude so instantly and effectively. It enables an individual to fully showcase their features and emphasises certain aspects of beauty not noticed in the absence of makeup. But most of all, it brings me great joy when I see my client’s satisfaction with my work; I enjoy them seeing themselves feel beautiful.
Share with us your experience abroad.
When I was younger, my family and I loved watching the TVB Hong Kong series; so I was naturally quite familiar with Cantonese. I could understand Cantonese, but I could never really speak it. As I started my training and building my career in Hong Kong in 2014, I had never thought that I could communicate in Cantonese so fluently.
I spent a couple years improving my spoken Cantonese and later found myself working with famous Cantonese speaking artists such as Zoe Ma, Jay Chou, Fish Leong, Kelly Chan, Joey Yeung, Hins Cheung and so on! I'm saying that the unnoticeable things and routines in life can bring out the most exciting experiences that life itself has to offer. It made me more confident even though I was in a place unfamiliar to me. Although I faced many challenges abroad, it brought out the best of me and my capabilities I had not known not going; as the saying goes, the sharpest of blades are forged in the hottest of furnaces and most extreme of pressures.
Apart from those experiences, the gigs I enjoyed most were the concerts. The environment of the backstage and concert climate somehow pushes through this adrenaline-like rush. It was tough, but I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. You know, the pressure that builds during the changing of the performer’s outfits and makeup styles between songs or performances; and the after feeling seeing that I did my part in making the whole event a success. The feeling is just pure gold.
What are some of the challenges you faced?
There can be plenty of sleepless nights working as a makeup artist. The grind begins long before the actual show takes place. As a makeup artist, I am always the first one in and the last one out. Other challenges involve picky and fussy clients. However, I am a really patient girl and I always want the best for my clients. So I take fusses and complaints as a gauge for my skill; the less there are the better I am I guess.
I have learnt that all these challenges come with the job, it's never going to be a smooth sail all the time. So far it's been good; as long as I keep my head high and my attitude cool, I'll always be able to work with anyone.
Where do you get your inspiration from and who are the people that inspired you through your career?
My main source of inspiration is that I seek out beauty; be it a beautiful person, place, friendship, object, or an experience. I know it may sound silly, but beauty somehow evokes an emotion of peace and love in me; and we all know that love is one of human kind’s strongest emotion. Through this, I believe it makes me express myself in a way that reflects what I deem to be beautiful. Hence, the result of my work must be beautiful.
With regards to the persons who inspire me; the persons who heavily inspire me are those who have mentored me in the academy and others from the industry. I also get inspiration from a pool of talented makeup enthusiasts on YouTube. It’s not really what these people have taught me, it's more of who they really are. It inspires me to see others who put so much determination and resilience in making their work an art form.
Any future plans and hopes to see something done locally?
One of my big dreams is to build and run my very own makeup studio. With the support from my family, close friends and with enough determination, I see that dream just around the corner.
Any words of encouragement or advice for young makeup artist enthusiast?
Always believe in yourself. Everyone and anyone has to start off somewhere, be it small or big. Put in the hard work, practice and continue to practice some more and you will be your own idol someday. Do not give up so easily on what you enjoy and strive for more. Work hard to achieve what you want and always aim for your best.
Editor's Note: Introducing indie music duo, TheElleWan. In this feature, we learn about Michelle and Erwan's music origins, ambitions, creative music making processes, and some of the challenges they have faced. We have posted some of their videos below (including their RB Jingle), but to find out more about them, check out their YouTube channel. They are on Instagram too.
Have you known each other for a while? Any hobbies?
We’ve been schoolmates since high-school. We did A-levels together at Maktab Duli and then Universiti Brunei Darussalam for our degrees. Michelle did Linguistics and Erwan did Professional Communications.
One hobby we both share is that we like to make music, play music, and listen to music! But personally, I (Michelle) like reading and watching YouTube videos - real regular stuff. I actually like watching documentaries a lot. The odder the better, like sci-fi or weird creatures from the sea.
When did your interest for music begin?
Our interest in music started way before we met each other. We both come from very talented, musically inclined families. It was natural for us to drift towards music on our own. Erwan and I both can play the guitar and a little bit of the piano, and we do dabble in other instruments like drums and pan flute. Odd I know!
When did you decide to pursue music and how did you come up with the name 'TheEllewan'?
We were jamming in Maktab Duli during our A-levels in 2011 and just thought, why not try our luck and start a band and a YouTube channel together!? We didn’t think it would get this far actually, to the point where we would get gigs an actually produce our own songs! It’s been a crazy ride so far!
The name ‘TheEllewan’ came about by accident, well, by default actually. We originally wanted to go by our own names ‘Erwan and Michelle’ but when we signed up for YouTube, that name was already taken. ‘TheEllewan’ was one of the suggested names. It has stuck with us since! By the way! It’s pronounced 'the-elle-one' not 'the-ellie-one'!
A trademark of TheEllewan is our mash-up of covers. We do write our own songs, but we got inspired by Youtubers before us for mash-ups to give different dimensions to the songs. On top of that, we are writing originals and boy, is that a process in and of itself.
Tell us about one of your earlier performances.
Our first ever performance was for a Telbru event and actually Aziz Harun’s manager Bahzi Damit got it for us; great guy by the way! This was all before Aziz’s rise to the music scene. And we remember it quite well because we were so nervous to be on the JP Amphitheater stage, hands shaking and boy did we fake our coolness!
There were about 20-30 people in the audience and when we got on stage we just sang our heart out, with feedback deafening us, it was actually an awesome first performance!
Tell us about the process you go through when writing music.
When it comes to covers, we kinda just go with what song really stuck with us that week or if we hear a cool song that we like. We’ll just text one another and say, ‘Hey, let’s cover this!’ But of course it isn’t always organized. There are many hours of just trying out songs and it failing horribly with me (Michelle) being irritated with the process and Erwan being cool and collected. You can tell who the more emotional one is! When it comes to writing originals, we both have different styles of writing and inspiration.
I think between the two of us, we have written hundreds of songs but because they were written at a particular time in our life, we may not pursue completing the songs. Actually, the best songs we’ve written so far stem from really tough seasons in our lives. I guess it helps, to write down what you’re feeling, get it out of your system and make it beautiful.
What are some of the challenges faced trying to get in the music industry?
One of the challenges we faced was finding out how we were going to do it. We knew about YouTube but you don’t get paid for videos in Brunei. Then there is the question of what sort of songs to do. It really made us think about who we are and more importantly, who we wanted to be. And honestly, to this day, we’re still figuring out. Someone once told us that this industry is an industry of rejection and we’re no stranger to that. But we think that if you have a dream and it means something to you, you just have to do something about it.
Any future plans for TheEllewan?
We launched our first original song ‘Maybe’ a couple of months ago and wow, it is surreal to hear it played on the radio! We’re planning on writing and producing more original music in the near future. We will also do more gigs and concerts, whether here or overseas. Overall, we just want to inspire people through what we do. Hopefully to encourage them to do something about that dream of theirs. We’re just a couple of ordinary people who have a passion and it’s great that we get to do what we love.
Any final words for your fans or future fans?
Yes! For those who know us and those who don’t, we believe that you are capable of so much. Your dreams and passions aren’t small or insignificant. If something matters to you, pursue it. Work hard for it. Don’t let the fear of failure or rejection hold you back. We’re so thankful for the many friends we have who have been supporting us from day one and now as we’re moving towards a new chapter, we’re exciting to see what’s going to happen next! We love you Brunei, dream big!
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