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Sounds of freedom

Syabil Alyahya boldly rocks multiple genres in his band’s quest to evolve an original musical identity in the Malaysian scene

10 May 2021 / 10:55 H.

FOR a band that has been around since 2015, Golden Mammoth has not received their due recognition, at least not beyond the indie grapevine.

However, thriving in the musical underground, the band has built a cult following.

Formed by singer-songwriter Syabil Alyahya, Golden Mammoth spent its early years as a one-man band, experimenting with the direction and sound that would be formative to what the band has inevitably become.

“Golden Mammoth dabbles with a lot of genres, but our main focus is to play rock music,’’ said the multi-instrumentalist.

“We often try to fuse it with jazz, funk, grooves and some pop melody. It’s hard to say, but mainly it’s psychedelic rock.”

The former architecture student, who currently runs an F&B business, is used to juggling different things and admits that he does not like sticking to one genre.

“I think having that freedom makes it easier to approach our songwriting.”

Golden Mammoth was initially a one-man band led by Syabil. - PICTURE BY TRANSHALLOW
Golden Mammoth was initially a one-man band led by Syabil. - PICTURE BY TRANSHALLOW

Come together

After the band’s debut EP Malavita, Syabil looked towards live performances and tightening up what he saw as “shortcomings”.

Although he could carry the act on his own, he “recruited band members to back me up to play live”.

“I can’t carry all the songs alone,” he said.

“The first member I decided to invite permanently was the drummer, because I realised that my drumming was not that good. In every record, the drummer has to be consistent and very tight.

“I met Que, and decided to invite him to play drums for me.”

Over the years, Golden Mammoth’s line-up (except Syabil and Que) has changed several times. Currently, the others are bassist Hadeef, rhythm guitarist Hao and keyboardist Ojay.

Although members were initially brought on as session musicians, some became mainstays of Golden Mammoth, eventually contributing to the songwriting.

“As time went on, I wanted them to collaborate with me. In the latest release, all of us wrote it together.”

The band’s tour plans were cut down by COVID-19. - PICTURE BY HARIZ ARIFIN
The band’s tour plans were cut down by COVID-19. - PICTURE BY HARIZ ARIFIN

In the present

Referring to the name of the band, Syabil said: “It’s a combination of two names.”

A friend had proposed something about the Golden Triangle. Syabil expanded on the idea and in line with the direction he wanted to take the band, he added “Mammoth”.

“When I started songwriting, most of the songs were very large-sounding due to the layers, tracks and instruments. I like to make it sound large, as if a mammoth is walking, with a track playing right behind the scene”.

Recently, Golden Mammoth became known for the aesthetic it adopted for the release of second album, Skyscraper Toward the Sun early last year.

The audaciously intricate robe worn by Syabil, and the glaring yellow robes worn by the band, made a striking image.

“That was actually our customised robes that we wanted to conceptualise for (Skyscraper), which was written about a bunch of beliefs from cults. We try to portray that cult feeling, but it’s all just a joke. Nothing serious about it,” Syabil said.

The frontman explained that all five Golden Mammoth members were supposed to wear robes in the same colour, including him.

On the day of the photoshoot, they found out the tailor only made four.

“I asked my tailor where the other robe was. He said there wasn’t enough material to produce the fifth. It was an emergency, so I went to my manager’s house and found her graduation robe. I ended up wearing that. It turned out to be quite conceptual,” Syabil said with a laugh.

Currently, the band is on a break from performing due to the pandemic.

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