Iskarnival Sama Sama

AS co-curators of massive Johorean arts and culture festival Iskarnival Sama Sama happening next weekend, The Daily Seni has assembled fourteen special acts.


Kvlts (pronounced cults) by definition is a term used by the underground black metal/death metal culture which represents positively the cult underground status of a band or a concept. Inspired by this scenario, Kvlts are three very fine gentlemen playing apocalyptic rock with cult-like aesthetics. Kvlts weaves upon various influences from post punk and post hardcore to post metal. Comprising Zaid Fadhil (ex-Azlan & The Typewriter, Froya) on drums, Adam Ahmad (Bleeding Mascara, The Outlaw) on guitars, and Fariz Fahami (LurksDesecrate) on vocals, Kvlts aims to take listeners to the deep, dark recesses of their souls.

Sheila Julis

Launched to mainstream awareness during the International Finger-Style Guitar Festival at PJ Live Arts last year, Sheila Julis showed she could thrill a crowd alongside such celebrated acts as worldwide guitar celebrities Jacques Stotzem and Masa Sumide. But even before that, she has been appearing at the Penang Island Jazz Festival as well as Drama Festival KL! Her irresistible music incorporates homegrown elements and a distinct Nusantara flavour which makes her stand out in any lineup. Sheila will be traveling down from Penang for her debut performance at Iskarnival.

Farah Kamsari & Asmaraloka

Human resource consultant by day and musician by night, Farah Kamsari manages her time well in order to pursue her passion in music. Her hard work paid off this year at Short + Sweet Malaysia, when she nabbed the Festival Director’s Award in the Song category backed by Asmaraloka. But prior to this, the petite Johor-born talent contributed “Gula-gula Getah” to the soundtrack of Grand Brilliance‘s feature film Chow Kit and also produced well-received showcases for performance collective Sisiseni including Zombi Serang Joho and the first three editions of Poet VS Wild.

Asmaraloka meanwhile is one of the country’s most respected live bands in Malay pop and traditional music. Fronted by the charismatic and unassuming Ayop Azril, the band has built solid reputation in the performing arts thanks to frequent collaborations with theatre company Revolution Stage. Asmaraloka frequently travels around Malaysia to provide its services to state-led arts and culture programmes, corporations, as well as independent music gigs.

The Last One Awake

Rising to prominence after Astro First‘s Hey Orang Kita where he starred alongside The Venopian Solitude, Talitha Tan and Raja Syahirann, The Last One Awake is Sabah-born Christian Palencia. This singer-songwriter possesses a stunning voice and strong musical sensibilities; check out his  to gauge what you’ve been missing out on. Citing his sister Mia Palencia as one of his biggest influences, The Last One Awake writes songs that speak to today’s generation with a rare sincerity. His debut album is slated for a December release.

Tengku Suhaila & Aqil Zainal

Hikayat Records, the home of popular singer Janna Nick, has more promising talents in its wings waiting to impress. Musicians Tengku Suhaila and Aqil Zainal are two of them. Suhaila has carved out a niche for herself in independent theatre, frequently performing alongside young theatre collective Lighters. She starred in Maya Zaharudin‘s Decay which took place at BINTANG X BULAN earlier this year, while Aqil has been driven to make music since a young age, leaning towards Indonesian-styled ballads. Though solo acts in their own rights, both Universiti Teknologi MARA graduates will be performing together at Iskarnival.

Anomalist Production

Young  theatre-makers Anomalist Production entered the scene with the riveting Skrip Untuk Ali last year and the rest was history. The collective’s brave Bangsa: Anak Kecil Main Api won an Audience Choice Award at this year’s BOH Cameronian Arts Award while its Home was brought to Singapore for CausewayEXchange after successful run at DPAC. The promising collective has consistently grown since they first began, spreading out into other disciplines such as poetry and filmmaking. Anomalist will be premiering Asmara Malam Halloween, an upcoming play from their theatre anthology which is set to open in Revolution Stage‘s Projek Bilik Sempit next month.


The Lighters is a newly-formed collective of stage performers who are keen on bringing more experimentation to the performing space. Its preference for theatre as a medium for expression manifested in thought-provoking exercises such as Kenduri and most recently Dusk. For its Iskarnival debut, the collective will be performing a short play which first stole attention at Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) in September. In Happily Ever After… Again! three beloved female figures from the fairytale universe try to find true love after initial heartbreaks.

Jamal Raslan

An artist impossible to imagine without the flat cap on his head, Jamal Raslan is one of Kuala Lumpur’s most prolific poets and writers. But if you ask the humble man how he ended up in the poetry scene, he’ll explain that none of it was planned. Jamal began writing poetry since the early 2000s and is now one of the spoken word scene’s darlings. This charismatic young man last performed at the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival, and will be bringing his brand of passionate readings to Iskarnival over both days of the festival.

Ariff Kamil

As a writer and one of few Sabahan playwrights in local theatre, Ariff Kamil has a voice that is both unique and immediate. His debut under Theatrethreesixty, How I Learnt to Accept Reality By Sleeping Through It (Anak/Benih), depicted a Sabahan family coping with their son’s trauma. There was a zany sense of humour and an understanding of internet culture in the play that reaffirmed the need of voices like Ariff’s in Malaysian storytelling. Returning to Iskarnival after his workshop at Naratif last month, Ariff will be reading a selection of short works.

Omorq Iwan

This self-taught artist from Kajang frequently with his brand of performance art. Omorq Iwan primarily recites poems by himself, but his penchant for theatrical elements gives his performances added dimension. Omorq has been building a reputation as a performance artist for several years now, having performed at IM4U, Rumah Pena and universities around the country. His provocative presentations have graced notable youth arts and culture events including Tarakuchacha, KotaKata, Katalistiwa and Puiteaka 0.4.

The Ministry of Blunk

Comprising pop vocalist Shane Tan, metal guitarist Vishnu Krishnan and drummer slash percussionist Isaac Miranda, Ministry of Blunk combines rhythms and grooves from sui generis influences through the collective’s passion for the art of soul, blues and funk. Formed in early 2013 the trio has played around Malaysia; from Penang to the Klang Valley, Ministry of Blunk enjoys collaborating with local talents whether new or established. They describe their music as a “musical maelstrom of funk and soul with an edge”.

Raziman Sarbini

Perhaps the best known of younger dancers from Akademi Seni Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan (ASWARA) , this 24-year old comes from a humble, farming family in Limbang, Sarawak.  He is a principal dancer with the acclaimed Aswara Dance Company as well as an award-winning performer, bagging five gold medals at the 2012 World Championship of Performing Arts. Raziman made headlines earlier this year for receiving a partial scholarship into New York University‘s world-famous Tisch School of Performance Art. Having just returned from Gaeryong Festival Korea in October, he makes his Iskarnival debut at Sama Sama.


Syed Haziq Afiq

Hailing from Mersing, Syed Haziq Afiq will be returning to his home state of Johor to perform at Iskarnival with budding Perlis-born choreographer Mohd Zulkarnain. This Diploma in Dance graduate from ASWARA learned from some of the nation’s bests — his teachers include Marion D’Cruz, Joseph Gonzales and Hajijah Yaacob. On top of regular participation in showcases at the academy including Gelombang Baru and Tari, Syed Haziq has also performed in the NYU-ASWARA collaboration Crossing Borders 2015 as well as regional arts conference Borak Arts Series.