7 Jan 2013 by Timothy Tai-
One local band that all Malaysians and indeed, Christians everywhere can be proud of is RELENT. While the aim of most artists and bands is simply to make a name for themselves, the same cannot be said of RELENT. If anything, they’re a band of radical Christians with an all-important cause.
Read the following interview with Neil Batiancila (the lead vocalist of RELENT) to discover how they use their musical talents not just to worship and glorify God, but also to change the world in which we live.
Q: Let's start off with a round of introductions. Who's who in the band and where's everyone from?
A: My name is Neil Batiancila and I’m the lead vocalist, song writer and rhythm guitarist. I'm from the Philippines. Then there’s Cuzario David from Kuching and he plays the drums. On lead guitar and keyboards is Jude Limus from Kota Kinabalu. And last but not least, we have Daniel Krishnan who’s also from Kota Kinabalu and he plays the bass guitar.
Q: For the benefit of those who don't know you yet, give us a brief history of how Relent started out.
A: We've been around since 2009. To be honest, we started off as a youth worship group for church. At the birth of Change Your World (CYW), an organization I am a part of, we decided to ride with CYW and be a band with a purpose; to help fight against modern day slavery through our music.
Q: And the type of music that you guys play can be described as…?
A: Rock. A little of Switchfoot, Foo Fighters, Paramore and Kings of Leon
Q: When you guys aren't playing gigs, what do you guys do?
A: Well 2 things, we have our normal jobs at Change Your World and we serve in the worship team at our church, Eaglepoint Malaysia
Q: Just recently, your song "Looking For A Savior" was voted as the #1 song on Hitz FM's top 10 charts the MET10 (Malaysian English Top 10) and BET10 (Borneo English Top 10). Can you share with us about what inspired you to write the song and what it's about?
A: As I mentioned, we work for Change Your World that exists to fight against modern day slavery. Our tag line is, "Engaging creativity to save lives". Our creativity is music.
One day, our co-founder approached me to write a song about our cause. I didn't want to take the challenge because it's not easy to write something about Human Trafficking. Think about it… it's not like writing a love song. The inspiration came after watching a video on YouTube called ‘Don’t Let Me Go’ by "Click Five". It was a video on human trafficking and to be honest, I really don't know how the song relates with the video but it somehow triggered my mind to write something.
So based on what I saw and the research I've been doing on modern day slavery, the song came about. I had to rewrite it a couple of times coz I didn't want it to be just another song that sounds good but a song that I hope, would encourage or convict others to do something about modern day slavery.
Q: What was one of your proudest moments as a band?
A: 2012 was a good year for us. We were able to play in a lot of places but our proudest has got to be the HitzFM birthday invasion in Kuching. We got to play on the same stage together with Malaysia's local bands like One Buck Short and Pop Shuvit as well as upcoming international star Greyson Chance.
Q. Although you guys are a rock band, it's plain to see that you guys are devout Christians first and foremost. Does your faith play a big part in your music?
A: Yes. A BIG part. It keeps us grounded and reminds us of who we are and who we are not.
Q: So how do you stay grounded as followers of Christ in the music industry?
A: "Relent" is more than just a name. One of the words use to describe Relent is "Yield". Yield to what you might say? Well it's obvious.. to God. One the words often used is relentless. But we believe that in order to be relentless we must relent first… denying who we are so we can do great things. So we represent the name as it represents Him.
Aside from that and our own devotions, we are accountable to our leaders in church. Rock star, big or small, it's important to be surrounded by mighty men and women of God.
Q: What do you think about the profanities and sexual references in today's music? And what advice would you give to teens about how to choose the songs that they listen to?
A: I personally don't like some of the things I hear on radio. I love the creativity put into it, there are some artistes who influenced me growing up but I do not like the lyrics attached to certain songs. Most of the catchy songs do contain sexual related messages, directly or indirectly. I have a friend whose 4 year old sister sang a very popular tune [of a song that was sexual in nature] not knowing what she was singing. Innocent as she can be, there are psychological effects to it. We can choose to say, "nah, it's just music. It's cool" but these are things that can shape us from within that may ultimately express itself in the future. Music hits out at our emotions, and our emotions have a way of influencing our decisions.
Music done right is a very powerful tool. Bono says it best "Music can change the world because it can change people".
I believe music is from God so enjoy it. But when music is distorted in ways that it does not even respect us, stop listening to it.
Q: On a lighter note, what’s your most embarrassing experience as a band?
A: It has got to be at our gig in Ipoh, Malaysia. It was our last song and we were going crazy on stage. Daniel, our bassist, was swinging his guitar in the air and I got knock down with it where as Jude, our lead guitarist, fell on the ground with his guitar, rolled over and landed on the keyboards. As for our drummer Cuzario… Well, he just enjoyed watching us fall on stage from where he was. (laughs)
That concludes the first part of our interview with RELENT. Look out for part 2 where we’ll discuss more about the reality of human trafficking in Malaysia and what we can do as Christians to fight modern day slavery.
To find out more about RELENT and their work with Change Your World, you can follow them on www.facebook.com/relentband or visit www.changeyourworld.com.my. You can also check out their songs on iTunes.