Thursday, November 8, 2007

JIAJA Drummer Turns 21

(Please click on the pictures for larger view) Welcome to my party, says birthday boy 'Karuk' Valentine.
The birthday boy and girl - Valentine and Samantha, flanked by family members.
The Hussin brothers, Ji and Aja, the backbone of JIAJA.
The birthday boy entertaining his guests. During Blast Off 2 in 2005, he won the judges' praise as a drummer.

Valentine Arthur Dangin, drummer of the then new and virtually unknown Sabah rock group JIAJA which took the Malaysian music scene by storm by winning Season 2 of Blast Off in 2005, turned 21 yesterday. His parents, Jim and Rita Dangin, threw a birthday party for him at their residence at Taman Delima along Penampang road in Kota Kinabalu last night.

Turning 21 is an important and memorable point in one's life as one is deemed to officially become an adult and 'FREE' (from parental control) in the eyes of the law; and that is why normally the present from parents is in the form of a golden key symbolising freedom. But what made the occasion even more memorable for Valentine was the fact that it was in fact a double celebration as his younger sister Samantha also celebrated her 4th birthday.

The corner terraced-house of the Dangins were overflowed with guests either from the parents' side or Valentine's own friends including JIAJA fans. On hand to sing the opening hymns including saying of grace were members of the Benevolent Ministry of the Bethel Prayer Group from the Sacred Heart Cathedral of which Jim and Rita are members. But the highlight of the evening was of course an appearance by, who else, JIAJA. Although keyboardist Jim (not Valentine's dad) could not be present, nonetheless the three remaining members of JIAJA with Valentine on the drums of course thrilled the crowd with their rock music.

JIAJA, which is a combination of the first names of its members, was formed when a group of Diploma in Music students at the Sabah Institute of Arts (SIA) met in 2005. They formed the band just to try their luck at Malaysia's premier battle of the bands, Blast Off Season 2 organised by a private TV station two years ago. Season One in 2004 was not open to bands from the two east Malaysia states of Sabah and Sarawak. Little did Valentine, Jim, Nazri and Naza Hussin (the latter being brothers) realise that their "joining for fun" debut shot them to fame nationwide when the won the contest with the top cash prize of RM20,000 plus recording and appearance contracts and other goodies. And the best part was that this group of young college students (most of them were still teenagers then) beat not only amateur bands from all over Malaysia but 'semi-pro' ones too including those who performed at clubs or pubs!

Most of JIAJA's members have since graduated from SIA and are either working or thinking of furthering their studies and are no longer teenagers. In the case of Valentine, who was given the nickname "Karuk" by his bandmates, he is a Drum Lecturer with a local music school. His ambition? "To be a rock star with my band," he said. That should not be too difficult an ambition to achieve, considering that JIAJA is currently busy recording their first album, expected out early next year.

Well, as a musician myself, what else can I say to JIAJA and Valentine except Happy Birthday and ROCK ON! You can count me in as a perspective buyer of your album.