Miri 12th July 2022 – DJ Rocatz and Jay Ren Leong were crowned the winners of Borneo Jazz Talent Search Competition (BJTS) 2022 with their talented jazzy tunes and harmonies under the DJ and Jazz Special Award category respectively. 

This year, the talents participating in BJTS were cultivated by the Borneo Jazz Fab Lab (a new artist residency programme includes an intensive six-week interactive workshop) proving that musical growth and empowerment could be achieved within the local community of musicians. 

This resulted in a new platform where indigenous and jazz musicians shared the same stage, working together to uplift the live music scene in Miri as they work together for the next Borneo Jazz in 2023. 

BJTS entries are evaluated based on: Originality & Creativity, Skill Level, Entertainment Value, Audience Appeal and Stage Presence. The judges for this year’s BJTS were Christ Stalk and DJ Estephe from France, Jules Vulzor from Switzerland and Borneo Jazz Artistic Director, Evelyn Hii. 

Q&A Session with DJ Rocatz 

Izzie Hasfierul Bin Hashim, better known as DJ Rocatz from Kuching joined BJTS for the second time and was confident that he would take the winning prize this year. During his interview with STB, he said that his stage name stays close to heart since he started Breakin’ (performing) back in 2007. According to him, ‘Rockin’ in Hip Hop means “to be yourself” while ‘Catz’ represents the city he lived in. With both combined, the name translates as “to be yourself to represent Kuching” which is what he is striving for. 

Essentially, he wants to bring back the Funk, Jazz and Hip-hop and flipping it to fresh music and spread it across Borneo. During his free time, he spent most of his time hanging out with his dance crew called Overturn360, Floorockerz and 7FeetUnderground. 

STB sat down with him to talk about his win (DJ Category) in BJTS 2022. The following are edited excepts from the interview: 

Q: Congratulations on winning the Borneo Jazz Talent Search Competition 2022! How do you feel?

A: To be honest, the moment I received the news, I was pretty excited about it! It’s like telling me, “All the hard work, you did it!” At the same time, I am deeply indebted to my close peeps for their encouragement and support. 

Q: What makes you want to pursue music? Do you have any stories/testimonies to share?

A: In life, I personally believe that Music & Food bring people together, and the arts is a celebration of life, nature and all of our experiences. Sharing music for the crowd is an incredible feeling especially to those interacting with music through dance. I started Breakin’ when I was in Highschool and got my first turntable set in 2015, just before I started my university life (Bsc. in Foodscience), when I was 24 years old. DJ plays an important role in Hiphop culture, and in that year I felt that there are gaps in the dance scene in Borneo, whereby a DJ was missing during dance battle.

I spent my time studying, dancing and DJing for events throughout my university life. This is how passionate I am in term of Food and Music. Hopefully, o

ne day I can open up my own small café where there would be live DJ, Band, and incredible food to serve the people in town. Best of both worlds in one place! This year onwards, I would love to collaborate with more Bands, local artist and get more gigs locally and internationally. 

What can I share to everyone reading this; it’s never too late to learn new things. Add in 200% commitment, 100% confidence and have a sense of “purpose of life” in yourself. Eat more! Burn up the dance floor and stay positive in every moment. 

Q: What inspired you to be part of BJTS 2022?

A: Well, I’m glad to be back for BJTS 2022 and this time winning the competition. I compete for DJ category back in BJTS 2019 and it was my first time competing. I do admit that I wasn’t ready for the competition, I was lacking confidence and did mess up with my routine set pretty badly. 

Despite the hiccup, I took it as a stepping stone for future success. As for 2022, it gets to a point when you convert all that experience into an achievement, and I was very confident this year I’ll hit that spotlight. 

Q: Can you tell us more about your performance during Borneo Jazz?

A: I come up with a concept “Funk-Key” for this performance, where I bring all elements of trend music (Hiphop,Rnb,Pop, etc) and flip it to Funk & Jazz. The music itself is just a reflection of the taste of the current era, with addition of Rocatz flavor on the turntablism set with all the music genre flip, scratching, and body-tricks, which makes the routine itself more entertaining. 

I believe it added elements of surprise while staying relevant on-set. Some of the Funk tracks were inspired from my mum music selection when I was a kid. I think that works well in my sets haha. All of that, I think I rock the crowd and glad that I made it as a winner for this BJTS. “Funk is the key!”

Q: Did you see yourself winning BJTS 2022?

A: I’m confident that I would take the winning prize, though I have no idea with whom I’ll be competing with. What I can see for myself is to be better than yesterday and prepare myself with a Rocatz Style DJ routine set. 

Q: What are the takeaways from joining BJTS?

A: This competition shows you that if you persevere and learn how to push through tough times, your success will be sweeter and more rewarding. This pretty much goes without saying, but there is always something to new to learn from each and every performance experience. 

I take the opportunity on this trip to Miri to network with more people. Definitely appreciate the link-up with DJ Estephe and watch his live performance along with other artists. All performance line-up is crazy!

Q: Is there anything else you wish to share about your experience in the BJTS?

A: In general, BJTS is a good opportunity for everyone to challenge yourself and embrace your talent. It’s platform to turn your gift into something remarkable, and if you want your talent to stand out, then be part of the next Talent Search! While at it, spend your weekend at the Borneo Jazz Festival. It’s something that I personally don’t want to miss.

Q&A Session with Jay Ren Leong

Meanwhile, the Jazz Category Special Award winner, Jay Ren Leong, 17, felt thrilled that his talent was recognised in the competition. The Jazz Category Special Award grants him an all-immersive experience at Borneo Jazz Festival 2022, a 45 minutes one-on-one session masterclass with a festival headline artist, a 45 minutes performance in front of a live audience and most importantly to be in the company of, and rubbing shoulders with renowned jazz artists from all over the world.

STB recently sat down with him to talk about his win (Jazz Category Special Award) in BJTS 2022. The following are edited excepts from the interview: 

Q: What makes you want to pursue music? Do you have any stories/testimonies to share?

A: One of the reasons why I pursued music is because of the spiritual lift off I get every time I improvise and surprise myself.

Q: What inspired you to be part of BJTS 2022?

A: My piano teacher encouraged me to take part in this.

Q: Can you tell us more about your performance during Borneo Jazz?

A: I performed three songs, including one original composition and two standards, I altered the harmony of the standards to spice the performance up.

Q: Did you see yourself winning BJTS 2022?

A: No, I did not see myself winning as I was not familiar with the competition and I didn’t know who else participated. 

Q: What are the takeaways from joining BJTS?

A: Met wonderful musicians and human beings that gave me valuable lessons about music and life.

Q: Is there anything else you wish to share about your experience in the BJTS?

A: Nice view and, nice cocktails.



About Sarawak

A kaleidoscope of culture, adventure, nature, food and festivals: is the best description for Sarawak. Sarawak comprises 28 ethnic tribes with their own unique traditions, lifestyles, music and food, while sharing their warm hospitality. Malaysia’s largest state, Sarawak, endowed with some of the oldest rainforests on Earth. Its vast landscape spans over 120,000 sq kms, with towering mountains and cool highlands, jagged limestone formations and mysterious cave systems, winding rivers and quiet beaches; where adventures are waiting to happen. Festivals are hosted throughout the year celebrate the eclectic blend of modern and traditional culture, food, music and religious practices that can be found nowhere else. In Sarawak, there is always ‘More to Discover’.

About Sarawak Tourism Board 

Sarawak Tourism Board is the key promoter for Sarawak. STB is a winner of the Asia Pacific Excellence Awards 2016 by Asia-Pacific Association of Communications Directors (APACD) and has received the ASEAN PR Excellence Award 2015 Gold Award. The Rainforest World Music Festival is a five-time Top 25 Best International Festivals recognised by Songlines World Music Magazine (2011 – 2015) and won the Golden City Gate 2019 five-star award for the Rainforest World Music Festival’s (RWMF) promotional video.