Greeting me at the door in his baby-blue denims, Julian Mokhtar seemed more of a regular Joe than a hotshot musician. So cool that even the sun's rays beating down on this hot afternoon, didn't throw him off the cool composure. Once we were inside the cool confines of his humble abode that was scarce of the common trappings of fame, I realised that the serenity was conducive for what he does best-playing the guitar.

Unleashing noise and classic hard rock rives with hints of haunting blues, his powerplay is wide ranged, intimate and evocative. Most often seen in the pub circuit, jammin' and experimenting on many a cusical landscape, Julian's low drawl and distortion effects conjures an image of a psychedelic voodoo child-bearing similarity to his earlier influences.

"I was always into Jimi Hendrix," he recalls his Hendrix 'experience'. "After listening to his 'live'album, I wanted to make noise the way he did. He was the reason why I took up the guitar."

Playing the guitar is a trait he honed back in the 70's when he received his first guitar from his parents at the age of 13.

"My parents didn't think I'd take guitar playing this far," says Julian, who is of Malay-Welsh parentage. "They thought: Let's just see what he can do with it."

Do a lot he did, as he progressed from playing jiggly tunes to mastering various techniques. A tip-off by a local newspaper ad led him to discover Sunday jam sessions with a local outfit called The Blues Gang.

"I was only 15 then and was very much into music," Julian explained. "Especially Blues Gang's music."

This weekend 'joyride' flourished into finer things like a permanent stint with the band five years later.

"When they weren't jammin' in pubs, I'd hang out with them at their homes," he divulged. "One day as I band. And as I was very much accustomed to their styles, I seemed to fit the bill of their new guitarist."

This earnest guitarist sought to forge new idealistic rock crafted in smoothly with blues connotations and displaying it in a flexible jam-oriented style. Unlike Julian, whose adrenaline was being pumped up to greater heights with ideas of sorts, the rest of the band was stagnant. Julian just upped and left.

"It was like working for someone for far too long," he muses. "After fifteen years, I just needed to move on and have the independence to do my own thing."

While being in a band gave Julian a pay cheque, the move might have been more damaging for his bank balance should he fail to get any stints elsewhere.

Needless to say, he hasn't had an ounce of regret and hasn't looked back since.

"People know who I am as I have carved a niche for myself," he says with an endearing lack of pretension.

"Jobs may not be pouring in by the dozen but hey! I still get to do what I want and that is the ultimate satisfaction."

Though it has been some good years since his departure from the band, the tag 'em-Blues Gang's guitarist is like a flea that won't leave his fur alone. Nevertheless, Julian has been moon- lighting in various art forms in an attempt to get people to see him in a new light.

While his stint with the Blues Gang had given him a head start in his career, he is still experimenting in various fields, which mind you, has raised a couple of eyebrows!

"I dabble in a bit of art work when time permits," he says, as he ambles over to the table and picks up an art piece. "If I haven't been a musician, I would have opted for advertising."

He shows me this abstract piece that depicts tree roots contorted in every angle imaginable and is painted in royal blue. The lines and clarity of his work boast of a steady hand; a hand that does more than just thrash guitars. Julian is also a keen provider of stage props-boulders, trees and the like-for many a stage production.

As his talents are not just limited to the perimeters of the backstage, he has managed to inch forward making appearances in the forefront minus the guitar.

"I've been in two television dramas which makes it rather hard to forget," he quips. "I had a lead role in an English drama-a boy-meets-girl thingy which was released some three years ago which hardly anyone noticed except for some friends. The other one never saw the light of day though."

Last year, he participated in an Art and Drama Festival organised by the Instant Cafe Theatre group, acting out the part of Curio in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

"I don't really know much about Shakespeare but I do like the use of the language though I am not an eloquent speaker myself." he says, trying to recall the four lines for his part as Curio.


the full story | top | main | next | other people | back to mir