By LIM MAY LEE
WHEN asked about his previous job as a newsreader on Astro Awani, Ahmad Faris said with a laugh: ”I had seven suits, one for each day of the week!”
Faris, 28, has since banished the suits from his daily wardrobe, grown a beard (#hipster) and is now the creative director of IkanPaos Kolektif, a creative agency that was founded in his bedroom.
The self-funded agency (“No grants! It all came from our pockets.”) is a collaborative one, working on projects with other small companies and freelancers.
“The thing about working with a TV station is that you sometimes get a camera crew that is inexperienced in sports, for example,” he said. “But with IkanPaos, when jobs come we always think ‘okay, who would really capture the essence of this job?’ So, instead of working with the same crew over and over again, I’d call up my friends and be like ‘Hey! I have this job going on, why don’t you join in?’”
IkanPaos Kolektif’s main product is TAPAUtv – an online TV channel that focuses mainly on youth content. TAPAUtv was born when Faris noticed that mainstream TV stations had programmes for all age groups, except the youth.
As a big fan of the local indie music scene, he attended many gigs and exhibitions, but never saw any of these events making it onto any TV screens.
“I quit my day job because I felt there was nothing that really represented what was going on with the youth, especially in the independent creative scene,” he said.
“Tapau”, which means “take-out” in Chinese, was re-interpreted by the IkanPaos Kolektif team to mean “capture”.
“I wanted to capture and represent the creative youth market, and I wanted to do it through online TV,” said Faris. His enthusiasm is not contained to just himself, though. “TAPAUtv doesn’t make us much money, but we found this is the stuff we get the most excitement out of.”
Feeling the team’s passion for TAPAUtv, Faris and his business partner Ahmad Hafizzuden put their heads together and came to the conclusion that TAPAUtv needed to be a self-sustaining website, because, as Faris said: “I want to make a living out of showing off the seriously good talent we have here in Malaysia.”
But, in order for that website to receive a significant amount of traffic, they would first need to raise awareness of the TAPAU brand. And so the idea of TAPAUfest was generated, inspired by all the festivals Faris had attended all over the world.
“We need to have a festival that reflects what TAPAUtv is all about,” said Faris. “Music festivals in Malaysia are very good, but if you were to take a picture, that festival could be anywhere else in the world.”
With that in mind, Faris and his team have worked towards giving TAPAUfest an instantly recognisable Malaysian identity. “I want to be able to watch local bands play while I eat my rojak and cendol!”
The festival, which will be held in the Penang Botanic Gardens, George Town on June 14, will be divided into five sections – Pentas, Pasar, Layar, Bengkel and Warung – and is meant to be a platform on which local talent can showcase what they have.
Pentas will host 10 local music acts, ranging from established acts like Kyoto Protocol to new psychedelic electro-rock group, Pitahati, as well as cultural performances like traditional dances and Chinese opera.
Pasar will feature clothing brands like Pestle & Mortar and Lansi, as well as art and furniture. Layar will be a cinema of sorts, with local filmmakers screening their films, while Bengkel is an interactive section, where festival-goers can run wild with cool things like traditional games.
There will also be talks and discussions featuring people from the creative industries in Malaysia. Lastly, Warung is where the good stuff is at – Penang food! Faris wasn’t kidding when he talked about rojak and cendol.
He added: “TAPAUfest is an opportunity for local talent to showcase themselves … And it’s also about giving people a chance to fall in love with the local scene.”