Geng Wak Long: All in the family

By Patricia Hului

WHEN A GROUP OF family members make music and perform together like The Corrs or Hanson, you can always somehow immediately spot the dynamic within the group. And of course, you could always spot the facial resemblance too.


A group of performers that stood out during the 17th edition of Rainforest World Music Festival at Sarawak Culture Village June 20-22 was a Kelantanese musical act called ‘Geng Wak Long’.


Kamrulbahri playing the rebab.

Kamrulbahri playing the rebab.


The group is made up of Kamrulbahri Hussin or, also known as ‘Wak Long’; Kamrulbahri’s father, Hussin Yusoff; Kamrulbahri’s three brothers, Kamarul Baisah, Mohd Shaffic Aminuddin and Ahmad Ridhuan, along with Zamzuriah Zahari, Kamarul’s wife.


Zamzuriah Zahari.

Zamzuriah Zahari.


Acting as Geng Wak Long’s publicist is Kamrulbahri’s wife, Wati Jamil. An additional member to the group is Wati’s uncle, Dzafaruddin Zainuddin who plays the acoustic guitar.


So if you’re done being confused over the family tree, let me share Geng Wak Long’s expertise.


Hailing from a state known for its cultural richness, it was not a surprise that Geng Wak Long were experts in the Dikir Barat, Mak Yong, Wayang Kulit, Silat, Tari Inai, Main Puteri among others.


Kamrulbahri, the leader of the band is currently a lecturer in Faculty of Music in Univeristi Technology of Mara (UiTM). His father is also lecturing at University Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI).


The Borneo Post SEEDS could not pass on the chance to interview Kamrulbahri, the leader of the band during RWMF:


Dzafaruddin (left) and Mohd  Shafic Aminuddin (right)

Dzafaruddin (left) and Mohd Shafic Aminuddin.


Why did you decide to add a guitar in Geng Wak Long’s musical ensemble?
It is to attract all the guitarists, so that the younger generation could play at least one or two of Geng Wak Long’s songs.

It is for Malaysians actually because in a foreign country, some people might not like the guitar because traditionally there is no guitar in our music.
But we want to popularise our music in both Malaysia and outside of Malaysia. We do play rock music too but this time we did not play rock music.


Are there any albums coming up from Geng Wak Long?
The new album will be launched hopefully in December this year. The last album was launched last year in Tokyo and was only distributed by Tower Records, Tokyo. So people can only purchase it online.

This upcoming album we will try to register as our own distributor. This album will feature a lot of Kelantanese musical figures like Pak Hussin.


Ahmad Ridhuan playing the gongs during RWMF 2014.

Ahmad Ridhuan playing the gongs during RWMF 2014.


After performing in RWMF, have you had any offers to perform internationally?
There are a lot of offers. We have to arrange our time. In the same time I’m still studying my Masters. My father is still teaching at UPSI. Hopefully after this we can focus on this.


Who makes your musical instruments?
Around 80 per cent of the music instruments we used were made by my father. My brother, Kamarul Baisah took Diploma in Instruments Making from National Arts Culture and Heritage Academy of Malaysia (Aswara).


Hussin performing at the Borneo World Music Expo (BWME).

Hussin performing at the Borneo World Music Expo (BWME).

What do you think overall about the RWMF?
For me the good thing is can you get a lot of contacts through this. But if you don’t have any products to offer, so it is such a waste.
You have to have something to offer then the whole experience would be worth it.


Kamrulbahri had one hope for our Malaysian musical scene, “In Malaysia we are lacking of awareness on our traditional music. Most of the focus is on pop culture. Hopefully and slowly after this traditional Malay music would be given chances from broadcasting stations for original TV programmes. Perhaps programmes that feature the diversity of Malay music, ‘dikir barat’ is already famous, so maybe more on ‘mak yong’ or ‘main puteri’. The diversity must be made because Malay music heritage is very wide.”


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