Sarawakian sape player Alena Murang continues to shine

SARAWAKIAN singer-songwriter and sape player Alena Murang has captured the hearts around the world with the music video to her song Warrior Spirit.

And it’s not just hearts but awards too that she’s bagging, having picked up the Best Asia & Pacific Music Video award plus Honourable Mention for Best Costume at the United Kingdom’s International Music Video Awards over the weekend.

Nor is she stopping there – the video was also an official selection at the New York International Film Awards and is a semi-finalist for Best Film at the 2021 Los Angeles Film Awards. More awards for her video are rumoured to be announced soon.

Alena, who is of Dayak-Kelabit descent, said that Warrior Spirit depicts strength from within ourselves.

“We come from a line of warriors and heroes. My great-great-great-grandfather Balang Nganud was a great warrior, the community called him ‘the Tiger that floats enemies’ heads downriver’.

“Though we no longer practice 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,” she said.

Released on YouTube in May, the music video was the work of the same team behind Alena Murang’s award-winning music video “Midang Midang” (2019), directed by her cousin, Sarah Lois Dorai and co-produced with production house Project Room.

Alena told Malaysiakini the track was inspired by a sape folksong for a solo male warrior dance.

“I visualised the male warrior meditating on the morning before a battle, watching the mist rise above the mountains,” she said.

Once the track was produced by another cousin Joshua Maran, they shared the demo and sentiment with Sarah and Fabian, the video’s director for photography, who emulated the feeling of a warrior.

Alena expressed immense pride in the team as the past year the pandemic had gravely affected people in the arts industry.

“The fact that everyone still came together for this project, in spite of that (the pandemic), just blows my mind and overflows my heart. The awards are for all of them,” she said.

The artiste also revealed to Malaysiakini that her next projects would include illustrating a beginner’s piano book inspired by tunes from Sarawak Dayak’s musical instruments, as well as designing a bag in collaboration with a local design label.

Warrior Spirit is a single from Alena Murang’s latest album Sky Songs which is now available on all major digital platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, among others). – Malaysiakini

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