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The Ngs’ getaway to Penang! Part One

2016 November 18
by Eric Ng

We decided to take Lyla for a holiday! Previously we brought her to Malacca and Phuket so this time we decided to head to Penang. I’ve only been to Penang once in my life in 2004 and LJ can’t even remember she’s been there before so it was an all new experience for all of us!

We took an early morning flight but that didn’t stop Lyla from being super excited during the taxi ride when the sun’s not even up yet.

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Well not exactly…

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The plane ride was smooth and Lyla felt right at home. I think it’s because LJ read up previously about keeping a kid’s mouth active by feeding her food and water while the plane is taking off so they won’t get that uncomfortable feeling of getting their ears stuffed.

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And within an hour, we touched down on Penang! The queue at the customs took a very long time, someone was disappointed however she was still very well behaved.

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And away to the hotel we went! This time we decided to put up at the Hard Rock Penang and we didn’t regret it!

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The staff were friendly and the hotel was very child friendly. The hotel was decorated with walls and walls of guitars which made me feel right at home. Lyla had fun checking them out too.
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Our room had a separate small room for Lyla with stuffed toys, books and a PS3 and the swimming pool had three super fun slides which was very popular with the kids.

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Penang is well known for great food and we explored the restaurants around our hotel. Common favourites like Char Kway Teow, Assam Laksa were well within reach and we had this yummy Hainanese Popiah as well.

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I think one of the biggest surprises for me was that I could have an electric guitar sent up to my room! Talk about the musician’s dream! Chalk one up for the number one hotel in my future travel list.

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We had lots of fun just hanging around and chilling in the hotel room for the first 2 days. Coming up next, we will be exploring the rest of Penang in the next few days!

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The cycle of music

2016 November 18
by Eric Ng

A week ago, I was driving and listening to Bruno Mars’s latest single, Versace On The Floor when LJ remarked, “This is nice, but it’s so old school! Sounds like one of those songs I heard before”. I jokingly remarked, I think that’s probably coz you’re getting old! To a young new music fan, she might be think Wow! This is fresh! It doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve heard before!

To which she said waahhh, you just gave me a reality check!

How many times have you heard a music fan go “The music today sucks, everything sounds the same! Remember artists like The Beatles? (60s kid) Led Zeppelin? (70s kid) 2? (80s kid), Nirvana? (90s kid) Linkin Park? (2000s kid) etc.

Remember when people said, Disco’s dead, or that’s the end of guitar music and all of a sudden Daft Punk pops out Random Access Memories or Jack White made guitar cool again with Seven Nation Army? Before you could start picking up guitar properly, EDM stormed in and just when you’re about to say what happened to good old organic pop music, Adele’s 25 swept the world with the largest single sales week for an album (3.38 million copies in the US alone) since Nielsen began tracking point-of-sale music purchases in 1991?

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A few months ago I was watching Halsey performing her set at the F1 when a fellow 40plus year old man, marvelling at the many young fans enjoying her performance, singing most of the songs word for word, came up to me and asked me “Have you heard all these songs before?” I said yeahhh. To which he said he has never heard of this artist before, and was wondering if it’s his age till he saw that I seem to be enjoying the gig and seem to know her songs as well. I replied yeah, it’s the age thing, my case’s a little different coz I make music for a living I listen to anything and everything.

As we grow up, for most, the rat race, starting our own family, work and other priorities set in and the time to discover music becomes lesser. Also, music encapsulates our experiences while we listen to it and hence naturally we feel more attached to those hits we listened to when we were young.

Music is a big part of many youths growing up. We start with whatever’s trending (There wasn’t even this word when I was growing up) and if we really start to enjoy music, we dig deeper, discover more and sometimes we realise that trending song is an update or a hybrid of different artists’ material from before. To the impressionable kid who just started listening to music, he might think wow! that robotic drum machine sound or that electric piano sounds in Bruno Mar’s latest album is so unlike anything he has heard before and find that it’s fresh! exciting…(doo..doo..doo..doo…doo you might have heard that song before).

That’s the beauty of making music and that’s why so many people with their own unique combination of influences are still releasing new material.

So for you the aspiring songwriter, musician, singer etc. Fret not, there’s still more music to create.

Finally, I like to end off with something I read in the book “The secrets of songwriting” where one of the songwriters when asked “If there are already so many love songs in the market, why does the world need another one?” The reply was something like it’s because everyday there’s a 14 year old out there falling in love who wants her own love song.

And so the cycle of music moves on.

Bodyslam Live with the Orchestra (BKK get away part 2)

2016 November 17
by Eric Ng

***This post was backdated from October, I decided not to post it up then as a respect to the King of Thailand who passed away just 2 days before. My deepest condolences to the country for their loss.
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10 years ago, I was at the Bangkok Rock Festival with Ngak Ng & Shirlyn Tan to catch bands like Oasis, Placebo and Snow Patrol. The big acts started at night, but we went early as we wanted to check out the other bands. Though the warm up bands are usually the newer up and coming bands, I do enjoy discovering these talents and checking out what they have to offer.

There were 2 Thai bands that day, the first one that came up was called Big Ass. We were highly impressed as they were really good and looked really polished. Though the sun was not down, the Thai crowd was already high and cheering them on. 45 minutes after their set, we thought wow. That band was good! Next up, Bodyslam took to the stage, and they totally blew me away. They not only had strong songs, their musicianship was excellent and they had lots of showmanship flair, throwing their guitars and mics around like it was in the 80s. And the crowd knew and screamed along to every song as if they were the headliners.

Of course, later I learned that these 2 bands were among the biggest in Thailand and Thai acts made up about 80% of the nation’s music consumption.

I left the Bangkok Rock festival a converted fan of Bodyslam and honestly, their set left a deeper impression on me than the other headlining acts that day.

Ever since then I bought every one of their albums and live concert DVDs, and with every tour I saw them play to bigger and bigger crowds, to stadiums that hold more than 50 000 fans. 2 years ago, Lj and me tried to get tickets for their past tour but the tickets were sold out in a second! This time, thanks to our friend Kenneth , we managed to get tickets to watch them rock it with a 50piece orchestra.

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This time the concert was held at the GMM live house, a small intimate venue (for a band their stature) of about 2000 people. An all standing crowd, we managed to get to the front row and the sound was surprisingly just right, not too overbearingly loud. And the 50 piece orchestra really played their heart out with the band. As with all Thai music events, the audience was loud and very responsive to their local heroes. It was mindblowingly good!

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Will we go catch their next tour? Hell yeah!

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Bangkok Getaway Part 1

2016 November 14
by Eric Ng

***This post was backdated from October 15, I decided not to post it up then as a respect to the King of Thailand who passed away just 2 days before. My deepest condolences to the country for their loss.

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Bangkok rocks! That’s why Lj and me were super excited to go for a well deserved, quick four day get away to the capital of Thailand. And this time we were even more excited as we went there specially to catch Bodyslam, Thailand’s biggest rock band!

Our trips to BKK are always filled with shopping and catching live bands. Day shopping was spent at the usual Platinum mall area, on one of the days it was raining. Here’s a quick tip, instead of buying an umbrella and having to walk around with it the whole day. You can go to any convenience stalls and grab one of these cool ponchos instead! =D

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This time we went to explore JJ night market, a more artsy night market with live bands strewn all over the market. You can really see Thai people love their music, which is why I love Thailand!

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And we also went to Rod Fai night market at Ratchada, shopping wise, it’s the same usual fare but this time we tried the Mama steam boat at the food area and it was delish!

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With 3 nights there, every night we had to catch a band. With Funky Villa recently burned down (sad), this time we went to Muse at Thonglor instead.

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In the past, Muse used to be packed to the brim with party goers and we usually had to cram in some small corner, especially during the weekends. This time the crowd is much lesser, I’m not sure why, as the band was totally rocking. Maybe there are new places we’ve yet to explore. That has to be reserved to our next trip as our next night was going to be spent rocking with Bodyslam!

今天唱什麼 華健30心頭好特別版 演唱會 – Wakin 30

2016 October 20
by Eric Ng

We’ve been travelling around the world for the 今天唱什麼 tour, from the Lincoln Centre, NYC to Vancouver, to Beijing etc. But this show has to be the most special as its Wakin’s 30th anniversary in the music industry!

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The show was a huge party with guests on and off stage they included 任贤齐, 苏慧伦,李宗盛 and 五月天. I’d say the audience was in for a treat to have all of Wakin’s good friends coming onstage to jam.

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I especially liked the stage design as it resembled a cassette tape. Anyone remember those?

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or anyone knows where this lyric comes from?

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Though I performed with him once as a session guitarist back in 1997. It was only in 2002 when I properly met Wakin by accident in a lift on the way to visit Fish Leong. It was a happy chance meeting which led to a long happy healthy friendship/working relationship with him as songwriter, arranger, producer and touring guitarist. That’s the magic of fate and life in the music industry, you just can’t plan these things!

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If anyone deserves such a great party celebrating his 30 year anniversary it’s gotta be Wakin. As a singer songwriter, he’s up there as one of the most hardworking ones I’ve ever met. As a performer he totally understands his role to entertain even when the music stops. As a boss he tries his best to make us feel we’re working with him, not for him. And as a friend he goes great lengths to take care of them and help whenever possible. When LJ was expecting Lyla, he shifted the post production of his album to Singapore so I can witness Lyla’s birth!

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Wakin Singapore friends represent!

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That’s why his 人缘 has always been so strong and his career shows no sense of letting up. Instead with him exploring different music styles and being able to make music without commercial pressures at this stage, his career might just be beginning.

To top it all off, I had a cool present from Wakin for his 30 year anniversary. A number 85 out of 500 limited edition box set of his albums on vinyl! Wakin knows I love vinyl and this is a gift that I’ll treasure deeply.

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Happy 30 year anniversary to a great boss and a cool big brother! Here’s to many many more years. It’s been an honour to be part of your team!

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Rehearsals for《今天唱什麼 華健30心頭好特別版 演唱會》

2016 October 16
by Eric Ng

In Taipei for 《今天唱什麼 華健30心頭好特別版 演唱會》second round of rehearsals. It’s Wakin’s 30th year in the music industry. That’s 1986! Maybe some of you haven’t even been born yet. I was in Primary 4 when he was already making his way up and later my mom would be attending his concerts with my dad while I was still immersed in heavy metal!

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This time we’re having more rehearsals than we usually do as there are many of his friends on and off stage who will pop by for his 30th year anniversary party and there will be more songs for us to perform. The concert will happen on 19th October, this coming Wednesday. It’s gonna be one huge party and I can’t wait! It’s gonna be fun!

Wakin《今天唱什麼》- Jinan 济南

2016 October 16
by Eric Ng

Jinan. The last time we came here was about 2 years ago. To my recollection, the place seemed to be have changed quite a bit since then. However we didn’t get a chance to get out as much this time as the hotel was in the outskirts. However we still managed to find a 清真 (Halal) eating place near our hotel. I always try to eat China’s 清真 eating places whenever I get the chance, the menu is almost always the same so you never go wrong with them!

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The night before the show, we managed to get out to check out Banjo, a local pub with a live band playing Mandarin covers. It was not too crowded for a Friday night and the band was quite good.

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This time, I had some nerve injury on my leg so I had to wear these Robocop looking shoes for sound check!

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And with that, we’re done with the show!

The 《今天唱什麼》tour is finally coming to an end with 2 more shows coming up, but from Jinan, I’m heading straight to Taipei for Wakin’s 30 year anniversary concert! More on that next time.

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The F1 Music Weekend

2016 October 8
by Eric Ng

Right after Music Matters came the F1 weekend. F1 to others might mean “Vroom vroom” but to me, F1 means concerts!

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This year’s line up is amazing! Though there were many other talented performers during this year’s F1 weekend, I only managed to catch three of them.

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I especially enjoyed the Queen concert and it might be the best concert I’ve seen this year or in the last few years! Adam Lambert did a great job of filling in for Freddie Mercury and I especially liked the way they used modern technology to fuse both Adam and the late great Freddie into certain segments. And of course, Roger Taylor’s huge drum sounds and Brian May’s guitar tone still continues to inspire me.

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Though Halsey played an early evening set, I really dug her set. Just 21 years of age, with the strength of her songs, she’s gonna have a long way to go!

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Imagine Dragons performed a few times in Singapore before, but this was the 1st time I managed to catch them. Their percussive energy was ferocious.

This year’s concert stage at the Padang was situated at the centre of the field, which I find is a much better location than previous years where the stage was set up at the side of the Padang. We totally enjoyed this year’s F1 weekend, especially with the Queen set. Am excited what next year’s F1 lineup will be!

Music Matters 2016

2016 September 20
by Eric Ng

This has been a terrific week of music! Music Matters is part of All That Matters, an annual affair where attendees hear from a Global line-up of key note speakers and connect with the leading players in the business. The performers and speakers this year include Steve Lillywhite, Slot Machine (Thailand), The Veronicas (Australia), Raisa (Indonesia), Bethany Mota(American Youtuber), Pentatonix (USA) and any more. There’s also the Music Matters Music Festival, a free festival featuring live music performances of some of the world’s best up-and-coming artists.

I always try to make it to Music Matters if I am in Singapore as I’ll always leave with a burst of new ideas and meeting new people.

A huge part of the Music Matters conferences focused on the rise of streaming, and live performances. As with every year, SGMUSO members were given complimentary access to the conferences and there’s a Music Matters Academy that invites festival organisers, digital music services and legendary music industry shakers and producers to share with local musicians and artists on how to up their game in terms of musicality, touring, taking their music outside of Singapore etc. I especially enjoyed Steve Lillywhite’s sharing session. It’s always a pleasure to hear the man speak as he mixes humour with thought provoking points with his extensive experience in the world of music production.

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Pentatonix showing how they hone their sound to set them apart from everyone else.
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The Music Matters Festival had a Singapore Showcase component and I was pleased to see a nice healthy turnout who came to support local artists. This is great as our local community of musicians need all the encouragement and support we can get for our music to be heard and to keep generating great music!

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HYR Wakin《今天唱什麼》- 重慶 Chong Qing

2016 September 17
by Eric Ng

Chong Qing! I love 重庆小面!It’s a blend of spicy mala oil,a whole bunch of other stuff with noodles and you can top it off with beef and a fried egg that looks like this.

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The moment I touched down at 1145pm. I told my driver, I want to eat 小面! He promptly obliged, circling around the airport area looking for a 小面 store. I ordered a bowl to go and he said “no no no…you can’t da bao that back, it won’t be nice! If you want to enjoy your 小面 you eat it here!” I said no laahhh, pai say laaaahhh. But he insisted to wait for me to finish it. What a cool guy!

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The last time I had a conversation with the 好歌曲 guys in Beijing, they mentioned that NUTS, the first live house in Chong Qing was one of their favourite places to tour. So I had to check it out. Our venue and hotel this time was far from the town area. But that didn’t stop me to take the 1.5 hour taxi ride to NUTS, which was right smack in the city area.

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It just so happened it was their 9 year anniversary when we got there. The quaint live house could house about a 100plus audience. What really impressed us was that that it had a really really good sound, instrument and lighting set up. I told the boss 老鬼 that their live sound rivals, if not surpasses some of the live houses I’ve been in the West!

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The first band we caught was an indie folkish band with a slight rock slant, next up was a punk rock band with great catchy tunes (ala Green Day), next up was a Hardcore band ending up with a 9 piece reggae band. Other than the Reggae band, the rest were local Chong Qing bands. All of them had great catchy songs. I was most impressed with the audience who seemed to lap up everything. To them, there were no genres, just great music. What a great place to be!

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And with that, we did our show the next day at the huge expo hall in the 重庆国际博览中心, had my fix of 小面 (3 days in a row =D ) and I’m back to Singapore for Music Matters!

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