October 2001, Galaxie Magazine Feature

Even if it's true that the new breed of faceless musicians (people who hide behind their consoles as compared to your regular front page celebrities) are slowly contributing to the death of the rock star, one Malaysian musician at least isn't going to worry her pretty head over it. "As far as I'm concerned, the rock star was already over a long time ago," says Cindy Tong, the woman whose musical alter-ego Joyless contributed two songs (Feel You and Silent Words) on Sembunyi.

She continues, "Rock star worship is just a joke. But realistically speaking, images will always sell and nothing will change that. Faces of people sell magazines, a good-looking face instead of an aesthetically-challenged one. Yet, that probably will only change when the general pop music-buying public starts listening to music seriously."

Tong, who spearheads Joyless' shape shifting and musical direction, isn't at all worried that while there are people who've heard of the electro-pop stylings of her band, few have any idea what the person behind the music looks like. But she confesses, "Recognition is a nice thing to have. Most musicians put their whole life and soul into a piece. Put it up for display for people to rip it to shreds and criticise it. So it doesn't hurt to have people you have respect for acknowledge what you're doing." Still, Tong is adamant that the music should be the central focus and recognition should really only be utilised to secure gigs and work.


(Note: I think there has been a misunderstanding.. I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia and I am not Malaysian)


1. How old is Joyless as a band? How many members?
"Joyless" is just me. It's more of a musical production project geared towards the production of simple ambient pop music. Although there are no members in it, there have been 2 contributors: Shasha (vocalist) on 5 tracks, and Randolf (bass) on a track called "Why".

2. Do you think that Joyless' music identifies with the dance scene...?
I don't think so. Dance music tends to place more emphasis on beats ... Joyless music is a little more about songs, lyrics, and has some kind of a story. Dance music finds a lot of its listeners in clubs, parties and raves. My music, if there even IS an audience, probably finds its listeners amongst new agers.. pop listeners.. and other production and keyboard enthusiasts. hopefully.

3. Sembunyi aims to be the definitive dance compilation ... do you feel that the album has succeeded?
To this day, I have not heard "Sembunyi" before, and have never gotten hold of a physical copy. I have only heard 3 mp3s tracks of it and they weren't mine.. But from what I've gathered, Sembunyi should never even be thought of as a dance compilation. I believe to treat it as a "dance" cd is to miss its point entirely. It should be more of a concept album; an emotional journey. Different people will think of it differently.. but instead of being a "dance" release.. it's more of a compilation of different genre-driven tracks that would hopefully last a long time to come. Not something that comes and goes, but something that might just last a while.

4. Are you a fan of dance music? What are your influences?
I actually don't listen to a lot of dance music, but I do like a lot of ambient and trip hop stuff.. and everything seems to influence me now.

5. How important do you think Sembunyi is to local music?
I don't know much about Malaysia's local scene.. but from what I've been told, Malay local music currently still monopolizes a majority of the market and English music (songs) makes up a smaller specific market. Heavy metal, punk, indie rock is still prevalent and strong in the local underground scene. It would be nice if the music on this CD could transcend all these divisions and be able to reach out to all indiscriminately..

6. Do you see the new electronic influenced acts to be the future of local music?
With computers and technology becoming more and more acessible to the public, the million-dollar studios are now obsolete and unnecessary. It is not the gears we have, but HOW we use the gears that matters. We should definitely see more and more "home" recorded stuff out now than before.. and musicians being in total control of every step and process.. making every intricate artistic decisions and choices. It doesn't mean that every band is going to fire their drummers and immediately run out to buy drum machines and samplers... the human element is still very important. People still react to music emotionally and technology is just another means to achieve that.

7. Your website says that the album is due out sometime soon... When can everyone expect it out? How do people get their hands on a copy of the record?
I have already received online orders for it but it is still in its manufacturing process and is not released yet. The album is called "Disquiet Peace" and the CDs will be sent out beginning of October. I know that most people still prefer going to a store to buy a CD, but it looks like the internet is going to be the only viable distributor for JOYLESS for now.. The cds will be available at http://aiff.tripod.com through CDStreet.

8. Why did you decide to let Kevin include your tracks on Sembunyi?
I've known Kevin since the "DigitalRain" demo days.. so it's been a while. He e-mailed me about it.. and I agreed. I guess I pretty much trusted him enough to let him make all the decisions, like which two tracks to put on .. and such. So, I actually didn't have much involvement in "Sembunyi" at all. I know he worked hard at it.. so did the other bands and I'm sure everyone has learned a lot in the process.

9. There is a view that electronica based acts are faceless musicians ... people recognise the music but not the people behind it. Is that the same way with Joyless?
I hope this does not come across as sounding cold, but in business, when we buy products off a shelf, we tend to associate a brand trademark with a certain objective quality. In the case of music, we hope to associate a band name with a certain vibe .. emotion or attitude. So, i guess Joyless, like many other faceless artists, hopes to rely more on our music, the overall concept and general philosophy of it instead of what we look like .. or who we are. However, I have to add that people will always be into visuals.. and that is not going to change in a really long time.

10. Has recognition ever been a motivation to do well in music....?
Recognition should help to pick up extra gigs along the way .. build contacts and to network. Is it a motivation? It may or may not be.. but it is a nice thing to have. Most musicians put their whole life and soul into a piece, put it up for display.. for people to rip it to shreds and criticize it. So it doesn't hurt to have people you have respect for acknowledge what you're doing..

11. If the faceless artiste is really becoming the norm then is the age of the rock star all but over?
As far as I'm concerned, it was already over a long time ago. The whole "Rock star" worship is just a joke (to me anyway). But realistically speaking, images will ALWAYS sell, and nothing will change that. Faces of people sell magazines, a good looking face instead of an "aesthetically challenged" one.. Music, being a part of the entertainment industry (showbiz), means that good looking people have a better chance of selling records than those not ready to put their "faces" out. That probably isn't going to change for a long time to come. It will only change when the general pop music buying public will start listening to music seriously .. placing music above everything else. Only then can the visual aspect be an "accessory" instead of a marketing strategy.