Sarawakian Alena Murang’s ‘Warrior Spirit’ music video wins multiple awards and mentions

Pic courtesy of Alena Murang

MALAYSIAN singer-songwriter and sape player Alena Murang’s latest music video, Warrior Spirit, has garnered the Best Asia & Pacific Music Video and Honourable Mention for Best Costume awards at the recent International Music Video Awards in the UK.

The work was also chosen as an Official Selection at the New York International Film Awards and a semi-finalist for Best Film at the 2021 Los Angeles Film Awards.

Released on YouTube on May 27, the music video was produced by the same team behind Alena’s award-winning 2019 music video Midang Midang, directed by her cousin, Sarah Lois Dorai, and co-produced by Kanid Studio and Project Room.

“Warrior Spirit shows the strength within. We come from a line of warriors and heroes.

“My great great-great-grandfather Balang Nganud was a great warrior and the community called him ‘the Tiger that floats enemies’ heads downriver’,” said Alena in a recent statement.

The artiste, who is of dayak Kelabit descent, added: “Though we no longer practise that anymore, we inherited their spirit, their courage, their strength, and moreover, the courage to fight together for something greater than ourselves. I think many Malaysians, and people across the world also, can relate to the spirit of the warrior.”

On receiving the awards, Alena said: “I feel so incredibly proud of the whole team that put in their time and energy towards this music video.”

“It’s been a really rough period for people in film and music so it’s heart-warming to not just be able to achieve in creating this music video, but also have the added bonus of these international awards.

“We can do great things when we work together,” she said.

The unique and beautiful look and styling for the music video were mainly inspired by Alena’s cultural heritage and that of the peoples of Borneo, mainly Sarawak.

Alena worked with Styllar and other Malaysian designers and craftswomen, including renowned make-up artist Gebriel Padan.

Saerah Ridzuan, who is also Alena’s stylist for most of her appearances, said: “We wanted to showcase the beauty of our Bornean cultural heritage amplified by a fashion-forward aesthetic that speaks to the spirit of a modern warrior. I’m beyond ecstatic for the honourable mention from IMVA and I hope the world can appreciate the beauty of Borneo through this music video.”

Director Sarah Lois Dorai added: “The wins and selections at festivals only goes to show that there is an interest in the stories that we have to tell from our part of the world, and from indigenous communities. We hope that many more films from native voices will be financially supported in the future.”

Watch the Warrior Spirit music video on Alena Murang’s YouTube page, and stream the track on Spotify, Apple Music, KKBox and YouTube Music. – The New Straits Times