As some of you might know, I didn’t really take formal lessons for guitar playing and hence my lack of knowledge of reading/writing and music theory. So many always ask me, how did I manage to learn guitar?
I’d say the 1st key requirement to learning the guitar is. Interest, which leads to passion.
First of all, I’d like to say, guitar lessons are great, if my dad had supported me in taking guitar lessons I’d be so grateful then. However that didn’t happen. But I did have that interest, as I noticed the cool kids in school then were playing guitar. It didn’t look that difficult so my interest led me to just try copy everything that I listened to and liked. Aka my influences. And of coz, even the most technically efficient player will not be able to replicate a performance exactly note for note and feel, especially for a not very technical player like me, and hence that forms my personal style. Especially in age of Youtube, it’s so easy to pick things up. Listen to the stuff you like, and try to play along, if all else fails, I’m sure there is a link somewhere that will help you. And of course, if you can afford it, go take some lessons to reinforce and give a meaning to what you learn (thru music theory).
To end off, I shall list a few of my influences that led me to play the way I do today. Enjoy!
1. On playing leads.
This is the 1st lead guitar part I tried to play the moment I got my hands on a guitar. Because there is no other lead part more desirable to play, up till this day!
2. On playing riffs
Riffs are a series of notes, chord pattern or musical phrases that repeat thruout a song. And this is a MONSTER riff.
3. When I discovered that the acoustic guitar was cool.
4. When I realised that chords can be played like lead guitar, constantly moving, not sticking to one shape.
By this time I was starting to do gigs and moving into recording.
5. When I discovered travis picking that led to my 1st ‘hit song’ 纸飞机 with Sandy 林亿莲
6. When I discovered the wonders of layering guitars.
For electric guitars
For acoustic guitars
7. When delay became one of my favourite effects for electric guitar
8. When I realised the importance of heart and feel over technique
9. However a strong technique doesn’t hurt feel either
Of course there are many other guitar stuff that I listened to along the way like Steve Vai, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith etc. But I’d say these particular few albums/songs sparked me to play in a certain way, by imitating wrongly, it turned into improvisation and that’s the way that people build up their sound. One thing in common about all these links that I just provided is that they all served to a great melody which also influenced my melody sense. I also realise that these songs are all very old hahaha, so for those starting out, I’m sure you have songs that you love. Learning the guitar thru material that you love will spark that passion and interest way more. So get out there and find your own influences! Enjoy!
On the 4th of Nov, Switch by Timbre housed our own FM Pop Music School’s Talent Team’s showcase, giving our Funkie team a platform to showcase their self written originals. These guys were mostly trainees from our “Career in Hit Songwriting course”. The team and we were greatly encouraged as they were received by a well attended turnout of music lovers hoping to catch hits of the future. This is a good sign that Singaporeans are recognising the talents we have and are willing to check out new singers and songwriters even if they are totally new faces.
More performances of new songs by the FM Talent team to come!
Last weekend we had 2 shows with 华健 at Resorts World in Singapore. Thanks to Rock Records Singapore and the Resorts World Team. What a load of fun it was! We had guided tours at Universal Studios and great food everyday, making me feel like a tourist right here at home. And the added bonus was Lyla could enjoy her 2nd stay cation. Here are some pics!
It all started with looking for a house warming gift for a friend, I wanted to get a vinyl player and a few LPs of his favourite band, the Beatles. So I started googling for shops in Sg selling vinyl and I discovered that hey! There are quite a few shops selling vinyl in Sg!
After reading up reviews I decided to visit Vinylicious Records at Parklane, Roxy Disc House and Red Point Record Warehouse at Playfair Road (which is actually walking distance from my old house in which I’ve stayed for about 6 years!?)
From my brief browsing times, I’d say Vinylicious and Roxy are great for new records and reissues. Vinylicious carried some nice Record Store Day limited edition presses in which I managed to get a limited to 10 000pcs Beatles RSD edition for a very reasonable price.
And as for Roxy Disc House, after speaking to the shop assistant, I later realised that I used to frequent this store at it’s original location Roxy Square when I was a kid!
Enter Red Point Warehouse, and you’ve entered a time capsule. I brought Roy Li there and the boss recognised us and gladly allowed us to snap photos of their set up.
Carrying used audio equipment and mostly used but well maintained records, I saw so many of the records I grew up with and more! With a library of 10 000 plus records, I managed to uncover so many bands and artists I never knew existed. My inspiration for making music is mostly sparked by discovering new and old music. For e.g…
I think I’ll be spending many more hours at Red Point in future!
Guess who really enjoyed herself combing thru vinyl? We ended up buying her very 1st Walt Disney record which she chose herself!
I’d say musicians who are currently in, or hope to enter the music industry in it’s current state have to be crazy, passionate, or both And that seems to be the general vibe when I browsed thru the vinyl stores. You can feel the love of music from the shop owners or assistants, plus they know their stuff. Especially with the high cost of rental in Singapore and with the space that stocking vinyl takes up. You really have to love what you do to set up shop here.
In a galaxy far far away where CD shops used to be everywhere. I was not really into vinyl that much. Even as a music producer, I’ve gotten used to the convenience of mp3s at the expense of frequencies lost to create a file that small. But nowadays when most of our music is streamed, or played thru mp3s, vinyl is more relevant than ever! If you are a music lover, line up a vinyl record be prepared to have your ears senses blown wide open.
So the title of a song that I used to listen to by Cinderalla, an old 80s hair metal band, “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”. really takes a different meaning when I listen a well recorded record thru a turntable. Guitars scream out in 3D, a nice Fender Rhodes can warm up a fireplace, vocalists sound like they’re right in front of you, bass guitars and kick drums lock up and live well in their well separated spaces etc. Even the old school Mando pop (I’m talking like 70s records) that Red Point was playing seemed to have a whole different life blasting thru their gigantic speaker hi fi set up. It’s as if we didn’t realise that modern music listening methods had slapped ear muffs on our heads.
So yeah, a house warming gift has turned my vinyl interest in overdrive. Looking forward to get my own proper turntable set up soon!
For those who wish to check out what you’ve been missing…
35 Selegie Road
Parklane Shopping Mall
Roxy Disc House
1 Coleman Street #03-42
Red Point Record Warehouse
80 Playfair Road Kapo Factory Building Blk B #06-11
Warning : Combing thru stacks of vinyl can be tiring.
Yes, the finals of this year’s UPSS is this Sunday! It’s been a really quick competition this year as opposed to previous seasons. I’m quite excited about the line up for the final four as they all have very different styles so it’s gonna be interesting to watch.
I’ve also noticed that some have been quick to find any opportunity to slam those involved and the show itself etc. Who’s in, who’s out, who said what, the standard, this and that etc. I guess that all comes together with the package for those involved, as trolling is entertainment to some…
And as with all competitions, we all know the winners might not be the best achiever in the long term so I think to me, it’s more important that these contestants learned something during these few months, improved and further fuel their passion to pursue their love of music.
And I think they’ve all did.
So like it or not, Project Superstar 2014 Finals, this Sunday! Tune in to the fun!
Honestly, I used to hate this word staycation, coz I never understood why get a room right here in Sg when we all have homes! Till last weekend when my helper suddenly had to go home, we thought let’s go on a family holiday! And then suddenly we realised, whoops, Lyla doesn’t have a passport! haha. And so began our 1st staycation ever at Marina Bay Sands.
What a load of fun!!!
Okay, probably the only thing about the MBS pool is that you can’t really swim in it coz there’s way too much people inside taking photos and using selfie sticks! =D (Us included hahah)
Knocked out for the night.
Guess who had the most fun during this staycation? Actually it’s all of us! So will we go on another staycation? Hell yeah! And it’s also a good warm up to when Lyla gets a passport and we really travel somewhere, like maybe Phuket?
In 1937, beyerdynamic(BYR) released DT 48, the world’s 1st dynamic headphones. Since then, BYR’s cans have been seen on the heads of legends like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd etc. So how cool is it that Daniel from Peak Fusion Pte Ltd hooked me up with a FM-HYR-BYR Custom One Pro with its drivers swapped for a pair of studio ref standard DT770 pro drivers!
Some might misunderstand that in order for producers to check mixes, we need hi end audiophile speakers or top notch platinum, titanium what not materials to make sure we can get our mixes accurate. However the reality is most people listen music in common devices and environments such as laptop speakers, boom boxes or thru our mobile phone speakers in the toilet. So what most of us do when we check mixes is to hear it thru different speakers and headphones till we find a good middle ground to create a mix that can sound balanced and great. I usually check my mix thru 5 sets of speakers (Dynaudio BM 6A, Yamaha NS-10, Avantone Mix Cubes, my laptop and my car speakers). With the variety of speakers to choose from, my choice for studio references is usually decided by the speakers not overly hyping up the frequencies to deceive me into it sounding good and equally important, if it’s aurally comfortable after long periods of listening.
Similarly when it come to headphones, I’m looking for a one that gives me a neutral, unhyped representation of what is happening in the mix. The BeyerDynamic DT 770 pro has been such a model that’s been lauded by many a mixing engineer for checking mixes. As the highs and mids are not overly shrill, I find it comfortable even after long periods of listening. Once I can find a balance that translate well thru all the different sources then that’s the mix done!
Out on the road, I find it more comfortable for me to wear headphones on stage as opposed to in ear monitors. While I like what I’m hearing thru the DT, I prefer more swag in the look of the cans. Finding the look a little too stern and ’studio-like’ for me, the guys at Peak Fusion listened and hooked me up with a pimped up version of their BYR Custom One headphones, swapping the in built drivers for the DT 770 pro drivers!
Viola! we’ve got the BYR-HYR Custom One! Now I can take my sound in the studio out on the road!
For more info, you guys can check out Peakfusion at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peak-Fusion-Pte-Ltd/178058005658381?fref=ts . Besides Beyerdynamic, they also carry my trusty Dynaudio BM 6A studio monitors that I bought from them more than 10 years ago!
Over the last weekend we’ve had Jessica, Creative Executive of Warner Chappell Taiwan over in Singapore for a regional visit and we invited her to our school to have a talk to share about the current climate for songwriters in the Asian Mandarin music industry. What we had was a very enthusiastic strong response from FM’s exclusive songwriters and trainees from our MDA-WDA “Career in Hit Songwriting” course. Jessica was surprised as considering the size of our small country that was a huge turnout for people who are interested to find out more about what goes on in the not so known world of pop songwriting.
The 2 hour plus session was loaded with information shared by Jessica, Xiaohan, Jim and me where we all poured out our experiences, our mistakes, our observations on the past, the future so that these newcomers can learn, protect themselves and most importantly be inspired to write even more songs. Keeping your game on and constantly writing has always been on the tip of my tongue as that was the main way I saw myself and many of my peers who are still in the scene be able to get that important step into the industry.
During the Q&A, we had many good questions hard and fast popping up for us to answer to educate the curious and for the others in the room. I’m glad they took the initiative as it’s not everyday we have overseas industry insiders coming over to share their knowledge.
Among the many questions, one of them which popped up was the viability of making a living out of publishing a song. Yes, the industry climate right now might not be as ‘bling’ as in the past. No, it’s highly unlikely you can sit back after selling one song. However these days if you can get past the 1st step of selling your 1st song, followed by building that consistency of generating a steady of catalogue of songs, you can build up your own library of published works which will accumulate in royalties. But if you’re still at the starting point, I don’t think thinking right away about all these will help you much in creating that 1st hit.
Other issues include being wary of shady contracts and “can you write me something for free please” requests. Ultimately you have to achieve the balance out of following your passion and also knowing what you are entitled to. Many try hard to enter the music business without realising it’s actually a business. If you take some time to realise that, you’d probably save yourself from some hurt and much unnecessary dwelling.
I think what was really cool was the trainees and writers taking Jessica’s suggestion for them to network after the talk. With the melody writers stepping up to lyricists vice versa, to get to know each other to expand their songwriting network. As with many songwriters always asking during Q&A “I do X, how do I meet people doing Y and Z to team up?” The answer was just all around them on that special gathering. That itself I’d say was just as valuable as the talk.
With pop stars and rock bands being at the forefront of the public eye, to some musicians, songwriting might not be as glamorous or a well known route to take. Out of all the many hats that I wear, songwriting is still the most liberating, creative and fun part of what I do. Imagine just creating something out of nothing, pulling random notes out of air and the next thing you know, you hear it on the radio. That feeling is unimaginable.
As you might know, U2 released their latest album “Songs of Innocence” and thru a collaboration with Apple, had their album uploaded free to 500 million ITunes subscribers all over the world. I saw articles written about it and people bitching about it on social media.
Albums too expensive, complain, albums now given free, also complain. Social media has made complaining fun to some. With 22 Grammy awards and more than 150 million albums sold. I’d say U2 probably don’t even give a shit.
Was watching Beyonce HBO special with her talking about her life, other than watching in awe of how crazily committed she is to her music, she remarked that she was blessed that when she 1st started. There was not so many other distractions that take the attention away of music coming from a music maker. Nowadays people have easy access to the daily lives of artists, and most don’t pay attention to albums, or even the music anymore. As a result, artists just try their luck, release singles and singles till they burn out.
Closer to home, I was having a conversation with a veteran singer songwriter about the great times of the Taiwan music industry during the 90s. Where artists and songwriter advances were high, even enough to buy a house at that time. And the abundance of gigs everywhere where venues pay. Nowadays an artist might still be rejected even if they offer to play for free.
And of course, even for some venues that pay. If lucky, the rates are the same, if not they are even lower than when I first started almost 20 years ago. As if inflation never happened.
When I first entered the music industry, I recalled just a year later. I was told I could send my songs thru a *.ra(Real Audio) file. Shortly after, enter the mp3. Which then saw the end of the golden era of monetizing music thru album sales.
With all these tales of ‘waahhh, last time was so much better’, I started to wonder.
When’s the best time for one to be making music?
The answer came quick.
The past will always be there and especially in these uncertain times, no one can predict the future.
But one thing I can be sure of, is that I enjoy making it!
On the 8 of August 2014, Kenny had an exclusive showcase of his album “Ten Storeys” where he shared and sang stories of his songs with his fans, performing with a full live band that compromises of Clement on bass, Adam on drums, Peh Linde on keyboards, Jin An on acoustic guitar and me on electric guitar.
The mood was high as Kenny performed to a packed audience which included many industry friends who came over to show support at Beep Studios. It was a great experience for Kenny to stretch his performance chops.
We are proud and grateful for this healthy collaboration with Super and AMPed, 2 great local homegrown brands to present this showcase. This is definitely the way of the future for artist development, giving them an opportunity for them to get closer and engage with their fans thru live performances.
For those who missed it. Here’s the video link of the show that went down!