When Farhan, 23, and Naufal, 24, kicked off HOAX Vision in 2014 as an underground party, they never imagined that the duo would grow into a loose collective of 27 members today.
Farhan makes music and raps under the moniker Bastard and Naufal is a regular on the DJ scene in Kuala Lumpur. But the two first crossed paths not in underground music but on Twitter, where they bonded over street culture and a dissatisfaction with how the music scene was.
It was this dissatisfaction that drives HOAX, an initiative to make a dent in the music scene through action. More than a collective, it began as a movement and a call for others to create the change they want to see with their own actions.
And from a single party started by a duo, it is now a platform for all kinds of creatives from rappers, singers and DJs to producers, photographers and artists to showcase their talent and be a part of the culture of ‘doing your own thing’.
Farhan shares with B-Side, the evolution of HOAX and how things changes as it continues to grow even today.
What is your take on the music scene in KL now? And how does HOAX want to influence or shape it?
The underground scene in KL is thriving, better than I saw it when we first started. I think the internet, like Soundcloud and Spotify artists, really paved way for kids to get their music out easily and accessibly. Also, the whole attitude of DIY music is definitely prevalent nowadays, especially among the growing trap scene.
Labels like This Way Up, Botanic Records and Monster Sound help as a (much needed) A&R, scouting role for the underground musicians.
My only gripe with the scene would be that we aren't really garnering hardcore fans/support that can move and direct the underground to become its own style and culture.
So we have a lot of artists doing similar things but not enough artists establishing their own unique sounds, and not enough fans to care/pay for the art. We've got a long way to go to reach that true sense of underground movements that Malaysia had from a while ago.
HOAX started as an underground party. What inspired/drove that party?
The pieces in TimeOut KL and JUICE generally goes through our beginnings and progress. We've always strived for that "You can do it too" attitude since we started. We got it to a platform where people pay for reasons other than purely the 'music', like a party, where the artists might not actually matter to get the job done, can be a good way to showcase the music. The point was never really the artists nor the people, but merging both in a way where it can be a sustainable form of entertainment.
What are the key traits that defines HOAX?
I don't think that there are really key traits, but a lot of people think we're organised and move cohesively as a group, have goals even. But really we're a mess and just do, move and act as we please, there's nothing really bounding us to any sort of movement. It just comes when it comes.
You’ve grown from a duo to a large collective. How many people are in HOAX now? Has expanding HOAX into a larger collective always been part of the plan?
I'm not really sure. It was also never a ‘fill out the membership form’ type of thing. I just add people in our Whatsapp group when I like them and see potential in them. Currently, there are 27 people in the Whatsapp group, but some are active and some are about to be married, we don't really keep up. People just do their things and HOAX helps out as a networking system. It was never the plan to be a collective. It was initially a plan to just do parties, but I figured it was easier logistically and ideologically when you include people in the process. They end up getting the idea sooner than later.
How did HOAX first expand with a 3rd member?
It could be Fariz Malik? He's our go-to producer back when he wasn't trying to be a professional DotA player. He helps artists reach a non-generic sound for our projects. He's just my close friend who started to make music and is talented at it.
HOAX started to encompass artists of many mediums from music to visual arts as it grew. Did that alter the dynamics of the collective?
Sure it did. When we first started making music together it was just a get-together process. Now we are thinking of how to incorporate different mediums together, but the idea in itself is disjointed and unorganised, it doesn't achieve anything. They help out when they can, somehow things just work out organically.
Usually, the thing that fucks everything up is over-planning and the results come out tacky and tasteless sometimes.
I think everyone just likes being in HOAX, its gives a nice little sense of belonging.
How does HOAX retain what makes HOAX 'HOAX' as more people are involved?
I don't know but usually, things go through me, then Naufal.
I'm like the idea and Naufal's the execution.
I'm also very critical and bitchy so a lot of things don't really end up making its way to Naufal. But at the end of the day, that's everything under the title HOAX. Everyone can do that what they want with their own shit. We don't dictate any of that. It's mostly just the parties that HOAX does. We barely put out music anymore.
Quite a few of HOAX’s artists have climbed the charts, so how has HOAX played a part in their success or process?
For some reason, I can't really pinpoint who has made what charts. But if I had to make a guess if they did, HOAX just provided the necessary networking and support - I bitch out the ideas of 'sustainable art economy' and 'refining underground taste through criticism' and Naufal connects the people and platforms. Everyone helps each other out with artworks or mixing or videos or whatever they need. But from what we see, the charts don't really have that big of an effect to change these artist's careers tremendously. The charts have very little to do with what people actually listen to.
What’s next for HOAX? We heard there are plans to become a record label or agency.
We are not exactly sure what's next. We're gonna continue the Atas Maulana even with its hiccups. Maybe collaborate more. Maybe a big 5th birthday party. Being a big record label is still an idea, but not really being implemented. What that essentially is, is a big money management system specifically for the use of production, promotion and sustaining the few artists that we would be able to support, which is much, much, less than the people 'in' HOAX now.
The impact would be greater, but that comes with the price of meeting consumers in the middle and making more accessible shit, which is acceptable, but definitely so much more boring. What we will do is what we always do, go with whatever comes our way and push what we think the 'culture' (whatever that means) needs.
Right now, there are a few staples we push for: 1) Quality content from artists (we already have Quantity), 2) More A&R's or scouts (or the like) 3) Passionate event organizers and promoters 4) Connected consumers/fans (for them to justify the economic support in the arts) 5) Critics (to keep competition among artists for economic sustainability). How we get there, I do not know but we shall see.
All photographs credit to Afiq (@straightup35mm) and Nisa Hani (@dearnessy)