The Sound of Borneo

By Jude Toyat


Sada Borneo wants to keep Malaysia’s legacy alive by showing its beauty through music and showcasing it to the world.

Sada is an Iban word that literally means ‘sound’. Combined with Borneo, it means ‘The Sound of Borneo’, an apt name for a band whose members mostly come from there.

“Wilker and I met each other during our first year in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in 2011. Our similar passion in music brought us together and we started to perform for various events as a duo,” leader of the band Hallan Hashim said when met by The Borneo Post SEEDS recently.


Sada Borneo members (from left) percussionist Hilmi Isa, 24, from Kedah, keyboardist Alvin Yong, 24, from Sabah, leader and sape player Hallan Hashim, 24, from Miri, guitarist Julian Frederick, 22, from Kuching, bassist Nick Fadriel, 22, from Limbang, lead guitarist Hayree Hashim, 21, from Miri, and  a friend.

Sada Borneo members (from left) percussionist Hilmi Isa, 24, from Kedah, keyboardist Alvin Yong, 24, from Sabah, leader and sape player Hallan Hashim, 24, from Miri, guitarist Julian Frederick, 22, from Kuching, bassist Nick Fadriel, 22, from Limbang, lead guitarist Hayree Hashim, 21, from Miri, and a friend.


In 2013, the duo Hallan Hashim, 24, from Miri, and Wilker Vilan Libin, 24, from Sabah were invited to perform at Malam Bumi Kenyalang by the Sarawak Student Society (Perkumpulan Anak-Anak Sarawak) at their campus in Penang.

It turned out to be a fateful event. During sound check, they met with kindred spirits Alvin Yong Shee Meng, 24, from Sabah, Mohd Hilmi ‘Own’ Mohd Isa, 24, from Kedah, and Allister ‘Al’ Changat, 22, from Sibu and they were asked to come up with a band name and all decided on ‘Sada Borneo’. Malam Bumi Kenyalang 2013 was their first performance under that name.

Today, other members of the band include former students of USM and close friends including Julian Frederick, 22, from Kuching, Nick Fadriel, 22, from Limbang, Bob Harris Norbert, 22, from Sabah, and Hallan’s younger brother Hayree Hashim, 21.


Hallan playing the sape during Sada Borneo's performance at the Kuching Waterfront.

Hallan playing the sape during Sada Borneo’s performance at the Kuching Waterfront.


When asked about their motives behind establishing the group, Hallan pointed out that it was to promote our unique culture at the local and international level and also to get better appreciation from foreigners as well as our own people.

“Sada Borneo was formed to promote our culture and music which is different from the other countries,” he said, adding that their genre of music is a combination of Western music (referring to the usage of keyboard, bass and guitar), traditional musical instruments including kompang, seruling, bungkau and ruding, with some elements of nature with the sape.

Earlier this year, the band did the country proud by being the only Malaysian band to make it to the semi-finals of AXN’s first edition of Asia’s Got Talent.



For Hallan, their experience on Asia’s Got Talent was surreal yet fun as they were able to make a name for their country on the world stage.

“It is a very new thing for us at Asia’s Got Talent as we have never before performed outside of our campus. It is a memorable experience as we have learned many new things and met lots of friends from various countries from around Asia,” Hallan added.

True enough; the experience has also been a lesson for them to get more serious with their music as they are now well known not only in Malaysia, but also in other countries.

“Musically, we evolved, especially in our choice of music genre which is more consistent, although we are still open to any possibilities and experiments in music.

“Nevertheless, we are proud that our band now has become more solid, and increasingly popular which has also becoming our drive to get involved more seriously in music. Our goal now is to bring good name to Borneo and also our beloved country Malaysia in the near future,” he explained adding that being part of Asia’s Got Talent has been one of their greatest moments so far.

On any comments that they still remember from the judges at the competition, he said, “We remember a comment from Anggun saying that she will be interested to do a world tour with Sada Borneo. That has become our motivation as well, and hopefully she will get in touch with us again soon to make that dream come true.”

“The best part of being in the competition is that, besides being the only team from Malaysia who advanced to the semi-final, we were proud to bring our culture together with us to the next level. People start to know our culture more and it has always been our motivation and inspiration for people to appreciate the good things that Borneo has to offer.

“We’re also proud to see that there are lots of talented people in Asia in a bigger view and that makes us proud to be part of Asia too,” Hallan added.

Apart from releasing their latest self-titled single last year, the band is also looking forward to collaborate more with local artists, especially those who play traditional musical instruments.

“We want to encourage more people to play traditional music and we want them to appreciate our culture and be proud of it. We would be happy if there are those interested to collaborate with us for our next performances, or maybe singles in future,” Hallan added.

The band will also collaborate with Akademi Fantasia 2013 winner Faizul Sany in his latest single to be released later this year.

Sada Borneo has also been invited to perform as a special guest at Kuching Got Talent to be held at Kuching South City Council auditorium on August 22, where Hallan has also been requested to become one of the judges for the competition. In the meantime, the band is currently making appearances around the country.

When asked what they had to say to aspiring musicians out there, Sada Borneo said:

“Go with your passion. Do something you love passionately and work hard for it, one day you will shine your way. Improve yourself day by day and make friends along the way. Keep on inspiring others with your immense talent.

“Also, be true to yourself, and bear in mind to always make everyone, your friends, your family, and your country proud of who you are. But the most important thing here is to always, keep our legacy.”

For more about Sada Borneo, follow their Facebook page, Instagram (@sadaborneo) and also Twitter (@sada_borneo). Alternatively, log on to their website at or email them at [email protected]

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