DRUMMER and percussionist extraordinaire Lewis Pragasam aims to preserve the roots and culture of the orang asli for the future.
“I want the young people to not forget that the orang asli exist,” Lewis told theSun recently.
To that end, he has started a community-based project titled “The Rhythm of the Jungle”.
“It’s a platform of drumming and music to create awareness on them and finding a way to integrate those in Sabah and Sarawak,” the Fulbright scholar said when met recently in Kuala Lumpur.
Lewis plans to assemble some 100 people of different ethnicities, train community leaders and bring them together in an indigenous music festival.
“I’ve come full circle, to teach people, by getting them involved (in a project).
“I’m still very active, some go ‘wow!’
“It’s just my nature.
“I can’t sit still.
“I enjoy it so much I’ll do it.”
To tie in with the project, Lewis will release his seventh album in May called Akar, meaning roots.
The album will be launched at the Borneo Jazz Festival in Miri.
Lewis has garnered international critical acclaim as one of Asia’s leading percussionists and an innovator of new trends in music.
The veteran musician is also into making drums using environmentally-friendly materials.
“It takes me two weeks to make one, so far I’ve also sold six sets.
“It’s all about sustainability, you can make one drum set, or cut down so many trees.
“I have sent to friends, no one can tell the difference.
“It sounds better than a (normal) drum.
“The tone is rich and it’s easier to tune,” he said.
The 62-year-old admitted he was often asked what motivated him to continue pursuing music.
“Ever since I was young, I love what I do so much. I love people.
“I believe I’ve been brought to the word to share my talents, my love for people.
“Everything that I’ve done in my life, I’ve done on my own.
“Why? Because I have the vision for it.
“This is what I tell young people – if you don’t take the adventure, don’t sacrifice, you won’t get anywhere.”
Lewis said some young people would say they cannot keep up with him.
“It’s all in your mind.
“If you love something so much, you’re just going to do it.
“I wanted to learn from people better than me.
“You’ve got to make a name for yourself, but you’ve got to work hard and be good,” he said.