“I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I’m really happy that I’m able to be a full-time artist and musician while I preserve and promote the Kelabit culture.” – Alena
Her love for music
“I’ve always been dancing, making music and working on some art or another. I’ve reached a stage where I don’t think of singing and playing the sape (a traditional musical instrument from Sarawak) as a career anymore,” says Alena. She’s also performed at the Rainforest World Music Festival, Paris Fashion Week, government events and corporate dinners.
Born and bred in Kuching, Alena comes from Sarawak’s Kelabit tribe. She moved to the UK for five years to complete her A-levels and degree in Business Management. After returning to KL in 2011, she worked as a consultant while helping create an art installation in Genting using upcycled materials.
Alena then decided to do something to make a difference for the Kelabit community by using her skills in producing music. “The type of music I produce is very ‘spiritual’. I usually go home to my kampung and get the elders to teach me a song. These are songs that are no longer remembered.”
“I don’t speak the language so I just listen to the songs, find out their meaning, write them down and record them. Then I fine-tune the song and search for the rhythm to go with it,” she explains.
Learning about the Kelabit community through her songs
Determined to make it in the music world, Alena released her first album in August last year called Flight. She is convinced there is more for her to do to educate people around the world about the Kelabit community through her songs.
This year, her aim is to produce an album of songs compiled from the highlands and distribute it not only within Malaysia but overseas as well. “I used to work two jobs but now I’m a full-time artist. I still need to find a way to fund my music.
To all musicians out there, you need to let people know you have value. My music is catered to a very niche group of people and I still need to work on promoting it,” she says. Alena admits that she was forced to create an Instagram account by her friends.
It has also been a place where she has met interesting people; for instance, the guy (he painted her portrait on his hand and handstamped it on paper) who helped create the cover of her album.
“Overall, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I’m really happy that I’m able to be a full-time artist and musician while I preserve and promote the Kelabit culture. It’s something that’s close to my heart!” says Alena.
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Alena: “The regenerator is a concentrated serum that infuses energy and helps tighten skin. I have to say I love it as the texture is light and ideal for our humid weather.”