Bani Haykal is as much an inventor as he is a musician. The 28-year-old Singaporean “sound artist” builds his own instruments. After hearing the sounds produced by an old typewriter, Haykal was inspired to create music with “dormant objects,” such as a bicycle parts, pipes, and a deconstructed electric guitar that he calls the “Antiguitar.”
“I wanted to create music out of dormant objects. There are no rules in how to interact with them, you can find your own new way on how to approach it,” he told The Star.
Haykal completed a residency at Indonesia’s PLATFORM3 art and music collective in Bandung, Indonesia earlier this year. It was there that he began crafting his unique instruments and the soundscapes that they produce.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
“I thought to myself that the guitar has way too much baggage as an instrument. We immediately affiliate it with the instrument on stage and I found that to be quite limiting for the instrument,” Haykal said in an interview. “So I thought that to liberate the instrument, I probably have to dissect it and deconstruct it to give it a new history … The sound it makes is quite unique.”
Although the Antiguitar is a far cry from the original instrument, Haykal is no stranger to guitars. His father, Bani Farook was a professional guitarist and songwriter with the Singaporean retro group Jive Talkin’. Farook passed away in 2000 from pneumonia at only 39 years old – around the same time that Haykal’s band, B-Quartet, started taking off.
“When I was 14 years old, I bugged my dad to teach me the guitar,” Haykal explained. “He was a musician, playing at Hard Rock Café, so he had a bunch of guitars that he kept at home. But, he was a busy man, so lessons were short. He'd just show me something and say, ‘Keep practicing.’”
Haykal added: “My family's been very supportive of my work. But, I never had a chance to find out what my father would have thought. By the time I started writing, he'd been suffering from his illness for about two years. I think writing and music became escape routes … It was a way to turn our sadness into something positive.”
Currently, Haykal is performing as part of the Media/Art Kitchen: Reality Distortion Field exhibition at Kuala Lumpur’s Publika mall. The interactive, mixed-media event is being held in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation initiative and features artists from Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The event runs through October 20.
“[The] act of deciphering or reconstructing abstract ideas is a formulation of one’s personal construct of the musical language, which in turn informs the individual’s dialect in understanding and appreciating music,” Haykal stated.
A video of Bani Haykal’s PLATFORM3 performance can be seen here: