In memory of indie music pioneer

Abdul Nizam died of cancer at the age of 50 last month.
Abdul Nizam died of cancer at the age of 50 last month. PHOTO: BIGO

Musicians band together in tribute concert to indie singer-musician and film-maker Abdul Nizam

Singer-songwriter Leslie Low of local art-rock band The Observatory will be looking back at his past on Sunday.

He and singer-guitarist Don Bosco will be resurrecting their 1990s band Twang Bar Kings as an acoustic duo to perform at a tribute concert to Abdul Nizam, the indie filmmaker and singer-musician who died of cancer at the age of 50 last month.

Low says: "Don and I will be doing some songs to remember Nizam by. Both Don and myself were big fans of his band The NoNames and were inspired by how he sang and played drums and still sounded so soulful. They were a band we looked up to."

He and Bosco, whose band Daze had a local No. 1 hit in 1991 - Sexy Little Boy - will be performing classic rock songs that Nizam and The NoNames used to cover.

It will be the first performance in 20 years for Twang Bar Kings, who will be joined at The Substation by two other bands, The Endless and Gary Chand & Friends.

All the musicians performing at Remember Nizam: A Celebration In Music have made music with or were close to Nizam.


    WHERE: The Substation, 45 Armenian Street 

    WHEN: Sunday, 6.30pm 

    ADMISSION: $15, cash only, at the door

Chand, best known as a founding member of Singapore's earliest reggae band Igta, was a good friend. The Endless comprise Nigel Hogan, former guitarist for The Padres, a band that Nizam had also played in, as well as musicians who played football with him.

Chand will play songs by Nizam's favourite artists such as folk-rock icon Neil Young and Southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, while The Endless will play original songs dedicated to Nizam - That's Why I'm A Fool, Stargazing and You Soothe Me, Man.

Almost everyone involved in the show has either worked with Nizam or was inspired by his music and films, says freelance writer and music blogger Ivan Thomasz.

He is organising the show with freelance writer Dan Koh and The Oddfellows founding member Casey Soo.

Nizam's death from liver, lung and pancreatic cancer came as a shock to many who knew him. The cancer was diagnosed only a week before he died.

He was an active member of the burgeoning alternative and indie music scene here in the late 1980s and early 1990s, playing in pioneering indie bands such as The NoNames, which he headed, and The Oddfellows, where he was a sessionist. The NoNames are known for the songs My Mama and Evil Live, both found on New School Rock II, a compilation CD of local music released by BigO magazine in 1992.

His films are critically acclaimed - arthouse short film Datura picked up the Best Short Film prize at the 1999 Singapore International Film Festival and came in third at Poland's 6th International Film and TV Schools' Festival in the same year.

Other works such as Breaking The Ice (2014) and Keronchong For Pak Bakar (2008) were screened at later editions of the Singapore International Film Festival.

Nizam is survived by his wife and mother.

Many of those involved in the show are offering their services pro bono, such as the musicians, producer and sound engineer Leonard Soosay, graphic designer Little Ong and photographer Eddie Sung.

The Substation has also sponsored the use of its theatre for the concert. The rest of the costs of funding the show will come out of the three organisers' pockets, although they declined to reveal the amount.

Mr Thomasz says they hope to "honour the man and his invaluable contribution to culture" through the show.

"We also want to spread the word to as many people who would care to listen, that Nizam was not only a really talented guy who made some really great music and films in his lifetime, but that he was also a very wise, incredibly humorous and humble guy with a great love of life, whose own touched many who knew him."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2016, with the headline 'In memory of indie music pioneer'. Print Edition | Subscribe