Artist bio: Irena Taib / by Liyana Y

This biography was commissioned by the musician. 

Irena Taib is most known back home in Malaysia for starting a band with her sisters who lived by the sea— a memorable enough endeavour by local standards, even without the goat in their group photos. It was only after ending up on the same lineup as Ellie Goulding (UK) and Franz Ferdinand (SCO) that Irena arrived at Berklee College of Music in Boston to major in film scoring.

In between those milestones, The Impatient Sisters charmed their entire country and the one next door (Singapore). The siblings were lauded for their original music, unpretentious banter, and harmonies that repeatedly hushed crowds. They opened for both The Jezebels (AU) and Dia Frampton (US). They were also on major regional festival lineups of Mosaic Music Festival (SG), Urbanscapes (MY), and Good Vibes Festival (MY).

Irena is a guitarist/singer/composer/sitar player informed by both contemporary music and traditional Malaysian music. She first picked up the guitar at the age of 9, and was writing original music before she was 18. She earned her Diploma in Music Performance at the prestigious National Academy of Arts Culture and Heritage (ASWARA), where she majored in guitar and minored in sitar. During that time, she composed music for national dance treasures Suhaili Michelline and Hanafi Rosdi. She also performed at the Solo Keroncong Festival, Indonesia. Although her years in Malaysia were filled with well-received collaborations and performances both in and out of the country, Irena found the time to make the Dean’s list every semester of ASWARA.

Before she boarded a plane to Boston, The Impatient Sisters played a sold-out farewell show; hundreds of fans could not pass up a chance to send Irena off her new path.

Boston welcomed Irena’s talent with open arms and in diverse ways. Since settling in, she is currently the guitarist for Niu Raza, singer/songwriter from Madagascar. She played guitar with Raza onstage at an a Afro-Caribbean culture show, Berklee recitals, university performances (Yale, Brandies, Northeastern), and a Voices of South Africa ensemble directed by Joe Galeota for an African Festival at David Friend Recital Hall.

As a Berklee undergraduate, Irena also supports projects of her peers and colleagues with her vocals and her guitar. She was the guitarist for Gospel and Blues with John Liner and the Family at Boston’s Villa Victoria Center for the Arts. Never too far from her roots, she also sang and played guitar with the Malaysian community at Northeastern’s Chinese New Year Intercultural Festival.

Irena is currently and actively exploring the open road; whether on tour as a guitarist, arranging for other musicians, putting new music on the page for her band of sisters and their fans, playing packed shows whenever she flies back home. Sometimes, she is doing all of the above. Other times she is on a newer axe-wielding adventure altogether. Eitherways, there is still a sense of only just beginning. That is just the kind of music journey Irena Taib crossed seas for.