Home Event Keep Your Toast On and Spread Good Ol’ Music With KAYA

Keep Your Toast On and Spread Good Ol’ Music With KAYA

by Natasha Christopher

When you first hear the word kaya, obviously as Malaysian foodie that we are, we’ll be drawn straight to our usual breakfast of kaya (coconut jam), toast bread and all that goodness. With that being said, ever heard of this local rising rock star music band name KAYA and plus, they just produce their highly anticipated first album named “On Toast”? Stop what you’re doing at this second and get to know about KAYA (the band) that for sure to entice you to feel So Right!

(L-R) Michael Peris (Lead guitarist), Matthew Ezra (drummer), Emmanuel Joseph (lead singer & guitarist), Donald Omar (keyboardist), and David Harding (bassist)

(L-R) Michael Peris (Lead guitarist), Matthew Ezra (drummer), Emmanuel Joseph (lead singer & guitarist), Donald Omar (keyboardist), and David Harding (bassist)

Kaya (the band) initially started out just like most bands do, jamming in each other’s houses in their young teenage years. These self-taught musicians had a growing passion for music and shared their musical skills and knowledge with each other to constantly improve.  

Let’s find out further of how five groovy boys grew from being childhood friends who loves music to now having their own album out. Mind you, all their six songs in the album are written and composed by the band members themselves!

1. How did KAYA (the band) form?

Initially, it was just Emmanuel (lead singer and guitarist), David (bassist) and Michael Peris (lead guitarist) simply jamming guitar sessions in Michael’s bedroom. Emmanuel and David had randomly joined this competition in 2010 called Talent Experiment in which they beat 16 music bands to rise as the champion through judges vote and public voting. From there, we were blessed with good amount of opportunities from getting a solid one month resident gig in Artista Cafe and some money we won from the competition. That is how we started going for more gigs and getting more involved in a battle of the bands sort of thing and thus, KAYA happened.

Left - Matthew Ezra (drummer), Right - Donald Omar (keyboardist)

Left – Matthew Ezra (drummer), Right – Donald Omar (keyboardist)

2. How did you manage to recruit a full complete band?

As for the drummer, we knew Matthew Ezra ever since he was young and from then he was already drumming at a young age. That was the one memory that stuck with me and we just called him up and ask if he was still playing the drums and to fast forward, now he’s an excellent addition to the band.

For Donald Omar who originated from Tanzania, I (Emmanuel) were jamming in the studio one day. At that time he was just a session musician which meant he wasn’t tied up to any band. We clicked and he was initially a session keyboardist for KAYA. Eventually, as time goes by, he certainly proved himself worthy to be part of our family.

3. Was it difficult for you (Donald) to adapt to KAYA and their dynamics considering you were the most recent member?

Definitely no. I have one of the best time when I’m around this boys. It’s good knowing their culture and me imparting my culture to them besides our mutual understanding of the music language. Plus, they don’t hold back anything when it comes to telling a joke and just being themselves with me around. I respect them for that and I knew right away I could fit in just fine.

4.We need to address the elephant in the room. What is the real meaning behind the name KAYA?

The word KAYA alone means so many things in different parts of the world. Even in our country, it means two to three meaning. Similar to that, we just want to show people that we are very versatile in our music. Normally when we perform, we would play different types of music genre which covers rock and roll, blues and reggae songs from iconic artists such as Chuck Berry, The Beatles and reggae king, Bob Marley. Heck, Bob Marley’s album was even named KAYA.There were times we were pressured to change the name of the band and we almost changed it to Clock Works. In the end, we stood our ground and never been more happy about it.
kaya pic
5. What would you tell a fan if they ask you what is the meaning of KAYA?

I would tell them it means alot of things. Sometimes, people already have an opinion about our name. Some would tell us “eh KAYA, you all very rich ah!” (kaya in Bahasa Malaysia means rich)  or “Kaya, the one you spread on the bread” and we would respond back, “yeah sure”. It all depends on how you define it and we just want to keep our fans on the edge of their seat and be unpredictable.

6.What is the process like during a practice session?

Happens every Wednesday without fail. Normally Emmanuel would choose the song list. It all depends on the place and what kind of crowd we are going to performing to. Either it’s a chilled out place or a platform for everyone to rock and roll. It’s all about creating the right environment.

In the studio during practice, we will work together to make arrangements for the song and how we can make it work. Plus, we would do our homework for that particular instrument in a song and practice individually before coming to practice and see how we can coherently put a music together.

7. Tell me more about your album “On Toast”?

Up to today, we still cannot imagine the fact that we have an album out! It’s crazy how we are so blessed up to this point for KAYA. In this album, we just wanted to start out strong and be on fire in the name of music. You’ll listen to alot of raw rock and roll music, clear cut, in your face type of music. In other words, we didn’t want it to sound digital too. You could say every song has a bit of us in it. There’s background stories of us, real life experiences, and even hilarious stories. Majority of the lyrics are written by Emmanuel. The song “So Right”  was written by me (David) and Emmanuel.

Most of this songs were highly influenced by the specific type of music we normally listen to. For example, I (David) was more into funk and reggae, Michael and Matthew were dosed into rock and roll music, Emmanuel was the Blues guy and Donald was just everything wrapped into one. We just want people to not lose their old school classic edge for music and how these songs should still be recognized today and for a long long time to come.

8. How long did it take for you to finish this album?

A good 9 months and you could say our baby was named On Toast! This album came out last year but we wanted to let it all out to the public during our album launch but because there were lots of people coming up to us and kept asking for the album, we just gave it to them. We just didn’t want to rush into anything as of yet. Finally, we set a date for the album launch to be April 20th, 2018. In other words, #420.
9. What was the biggest challenge in producing this album out?

It’s just going through the mixing and mastering of the songs. Sometimes, most of us are pretty tied up to our own personal life or someone in the band are ill that forces them to postpone the recording session. It’s just the consistency and the flow of finishing the album up was what we had to overcome.

You could even say there were times we struggle whilst producing this album solely also to the fact that we don’t have a manager and a label so we had to do things on our own. Like paper and admin work, emails, and finances. We are just glad to work together as a band and pull through it with full perseverance. Besides, we got love and support from people that has helped us along the way.

10. Who are your biggest influences in music?

We would have to say it’s very much of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix for the rocker in us, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Marley and Red Hot Chili Peppers for that added funk inspiration.

11. Where are the places you love to perform?

Definitely festival or events such as Jameson Malaysia event, Island Music festival and many more. When it comes to performing for a gig, Merdekarya has got to be our most favourite spot. This place is a platform for every local band to show their original songs, and be themselves. Merdekarya has definitely given us a boost and confidence to play our originals as well as exploring our showmanship performances. The crowd are amazing as they are all there to enjoy great local music talents. 

12. Places to perform that would tick off your bucket list?

Good Vibes Festival, Rockaway Festival, Rock The World Festival and as well as performing around Southeast Asia and slowly towards internationally.

13. What kind of songs do you normally play while performing?

We play all kinds of music, but when it comes to being different, we love to play songs that most people have never hear it. For example, instead of Hotel California by The Eagles, we would opt for Desperado song. Or we play Oye Como Va instead of Black Magic Women. We want something fresh every time we are on stage so fans would love that new and improved song selection.

14. What are your top three favourite songs to perform?

When it comes to our originals, it’s gotta be So Right, Artsie Fartsie Tattie and Be Soul, Our favourite covers would be Yer Blues by The Beatles, Could You Be Loved by Bob Marley, Good Times by Chic.
15. What is your advice for people who want to form their band?

It’s not too late to start no matter what age you are in. We’ve learned that perseverance goes a long way, so just keep doing what you love. Don’t ever put yourself down for one bad performance. Stand back up the next day, learn from your mistakes and keep going. Time will give result and stay humble, start from the bottom. Lastly, don’t take s**t from anyone and always be yourself – never be shy to express your personality out!

16. How would you say your music is different from other songs?

We show a lot of our personality in our songs. You’ll get a mixture of from artsy vibe, to wild rock and roll and to just getting down and boogie. Some people are even surprised we are young people that perform old school music and that gets the crowd pretty excited. That in its way, gets us pumped up to spread good KAYA vibes to everyone.

For those about to rock (we salute you) #420 #ontoast #albumlaunch #thebeepublika #kayalovesyou

A post shared by Kaya (@kayaofficialmusic) on

17. What is the strangest thing you’ve heard from a fan?

I wouldn’t say it’s a weird question we would get rather more of the interesting people we would come across with. Plus, the most prominent one a fan would say is “take off your shirt”.

18. What’s next for KAYA?

Touring around. You’ll probably expect new music soon like the end of this year. We also would be putting our music out on Spotify by the first week of May and also be launching our own website.


In order to know more about KAYA (the band), we played a small game of “most likely”
Who is most likely to be late to a practice/ gig session?

I think all of us are guilty of this due to personal reasons and what not.

Who is most likely the shy one in the group?


Who is most likely the loud one?

Definitely, it’s David after few drinks in his system.

Who is most likely the most nervous one before a performance?


Who is most likely to get married first?

Anyone but Emmanuel

Who is most likely the comedian?

Michael because he always has some sort of lame jokes to crack every single time.

Who is most likely the person who could not contain their laughter during  a serious moment?


Who is most likely to get a drunk tattoo?

Emmanuel. It’s also interesting how all of our girlfriends have tattoos but we all don’t.

If you all want to get to know more of this five handsome gentlemen, you are all invited to celebrate KAYA’s highly anticipated first album “On Toast” launch. Plus, it’s wouldn’t be KAYA if they didn’t throw a massive party to celebrate!

Launch details are as below;

Day/ Date: Friday, 20th April 2018

Time: 8.00pm onwards

Venue: The Bee, Publika

Cover charge is a flat rate of RM20 and beers are sold at RM10 ALL NIGHT LONG!

“On Toast” will be on sale during the album launch itself!

Plus, laugh your heart out by opening acts such as sharp-witted funny man and famous comedian,Thenesh Skip.  Get your indie pants on with Jumero Music and remember to bring your dancing shoes on to get funky with Ryot Jones. Also, keep those alcohol flowing and more amazing music in your system all night with Leonard Sinclair a.k.a DJ SHARKY on the decks!

Social media: 

Facebook:  KAYA (the band)

Instagram: kayaofficialmusic (#OnToast , #KayaLovesYou)

And that’s how KAYA (the band) making you sure you’re in for an unforgettable show!

P.S. Word of advice from them is “get ready to rock, roll and lose control!”


You may also like