Ilu Leto literally means ‘We, the Ladies’ in the language of the Kenyah people, an Austronesian language and the name of one of the tribes in Sarawak. Ilu Leto girls are indeed paving the road and creating a difference in the world of music from Borneo. The band members are native to Borneo and are dedicated to exploring and sharing the musical traditions of the land.
In fact, heritage plays a very large role in their performances. All the band members come from different tribes – in Sarawak there are over 50 tribes. Within the band they have Iban, Kelabit, Malay and Kenyah. They also have different upbringings, but they also have common things. Though they mostly sing Kenyah songs, they are also integrating songs from the other tribes, from their own individual heritage and sharing them with each other.
The band is quite new, as it has just formed this year. Apparently there are only a few professional female sape players around. Some band members are based in Kuala Lumpur and some in Borneo, and since they occasionally happen to play together, they finally decided to put together this band of six.
The sape used to be taboo for women, it could not even be touched by the gentle gender, but this is not the case any longer ans the contect has changed. Ilu Leto members are contemporary girls who listen to modern music, wear modern clothes and watch mainstream TV. But they have chosen to stick to theur heritage and to experience and share the beauty of sape playing.
The band members are Alena Murang, Elizabeth Bungan Peter, Munirih Jebeni, Rosemary Colony Anak Joel Dunstan, Nurul Syafiqah (Iqa) and Tasneem Bolhassan. They are all dedicated to exploring and sharing the musical traditions of the land, combining song, dance and music of Kenyah, Kelabit and Iban tribes.
Ilu Leto message seeks to convey through music and dance their heritage to a wide group of people, sharing something that is still common in tribal communities that have gone through a lot of changes in the past 50 years.
Ilu Leto performance at the Rainforest World Music Festival was graceful and powerful, a great show of young female voices incorporating dance, rhythm and a bit of nostalgia.
Follow Ilu Leto on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iluleto/