Our musical journey continues in San Fran! We went to the usual touristy Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, China Town etc which I’m sure you can find anywhere on the net. So here’s sharing our musical findings
Jimi Hendrix Red house!
At Amoeba music store, it’s a shame that CD/Record stores are closing down everywhere in the world, however Amoeba is still going strong with one in San Francisco and an even bigger branch in LA.
Gigs Gigs Gigs…
The Lower 48
Au Revoir Simone
And we watched the Neighbourhood at the Oakland Theatre. Such a pretty venue!
The Neighbourhood far surpassed what I heard in their album. Such a great live band.
That sums up our musical journey in LA and San Fran. What a nice and inspiring break! Hope to be back soon!
More gigs! More teenhood musical idols.
I got to watch Tori Amos!
At the Greek Theatre, what a beautiful outdoor venue.
Tori Amos’s Bösendorfer
Armed with 2 pianos, the Bösendorfer grand and an electric piano. That was it, no band. Yet she totally killed it, usually playing both pianos at once! Without looking?!
My only gripe was she never sang ‘Silent all these years’. It’s like 华健 doing a concert without singing 朋友! Other than that, her free timing, story telling performances of ‘Crucify’, ‘Winter’ and ‘Cornflake girl’ brought back so many memories.
Last but not least, we managed to catch ‘Once’ the musical. I thought the musical did manage to match up to the movie. It was super cool to see a strong cast that made up the band as well, all on stage, performing a very strong set of songs.
We watched the musical at the Pantages Theatre in LA. It was such a beautiful venue!
And with that wrapped up our gig tour in LA. After hanging out at the Santa Monica beach, it was time to head off to San Francisco!
Everyone needs a getaway once in a while, some travel to explore, some travel to sight see, some travel to shop. Me? I love travelling for music.
Last year I travelled to LA as I saw that John Mayer was having a show at the Iconic Hollywood Bowl, so we thought, why not? And flew over there.
Then late last year, Motley Crue, a band that I grew up with, announced that they would be having their final tour. So I thought, YEAH! Let’s go!
It was such a great gig with an equally interesting looking audience coming from all walks of life, even LJ who’s never heard of any of their songs enjoyed the gig Motley Crue 1981-2014. You will be missed.
And as usual, during our trip there, we just went on the net, looked up any one playing anywhere and went!
Sunset Strip – The Viper Room
More pics to come!
I must say this year has been quite a trip, after visiting Sarm Studios last month. I just got back from a great LA/San Fran trip where I got a chance to visit Oceanway Recording. And reason why I had this honour was because I was dropping in on Steve Lillywhite’s mixing session 2 weeks ago while I was in LA, it was really gracious of him to invite me to view his mixing session with Ross Hogarth. I find that only true masters will be so generous to allow others to view their craft, watching them at work, as they have nothing much to prove for themselves as they have already achieved so much.
For most, a recording studio is just a few rooms with tweedly knobs that captures some sound. But to me, it’s such a joy stepping into a place where so much heritage was shaped. Music is not just a bunch of sounds mixed together that makes us feel great, it’s also a time machine that allows us to return time and time again to the memories that occur while we were experiencing it. And I feel especially overwhelmed when I step into a place knowing that a certain song that meant a lot to me was recorded there. If you’re a musician and get a chance to visit places with a musical history, try picking up a guitar, playing a keyboard/piano or banging a drum there. Trust me, you feel different.
However, of course, it was Steve’s session, so basic studio courtesy is you don’t just treat it as your home and start having your little mini concert when you’re visit a session. (I’ve seen some do that, picking up a guitar or messing around w the mic etc without asking)
Ok, who’s recorded in Oceanway? Rolling Stones, Brian Wilson, Aerosmith, with albums that were vital and life changing to me such as Thriller, Bad(Micheal Jackson), Room for Squares, Heavier Things(John Mayer), Rattle and Hum, Achtung Baby (U2) etc.
Was having a chat with the guys and Steve mentioned to Ross, Oh, Eric and LJ’s flown all the way here to catch Motley Crue’s final tour in LA. Steve never heard Motley Crue’s stuff as he was probably too busy producing legends of his own during Motley’s peak period and Ross pulls out “Girls, Girls, Girls” from his phone and plays it to him, casually mentioning “Oh! It was a big hit then”. It was after I left the studio and did a little search on Google and realised he not only worked with Motley Crue on that same song Girls, Girls, Girls, he also engineered that unbelievable drum sound on “Primal Scream” by Motley! Other than that, he’s also worked on albums that I grew up listening countless times by Van Halen (!!?!), Jewel, Hall and Oates, Belinda Carlisle, Cheap Trick to Miley Cyrus, Brandon Flowers etc.
Just like Steve, guys like these are always open minded, generous and unassuming. Life sure is great at that stage where you see no need to overtly prove yourself.
Yeah, so that was a cool high light from my little getaway, more pics from the trip to follow!
2 weeks ago, I went for my shortest trip ever to London (4 days), however it was all worth it as we were there for a recording session with Ming for a collaboration with a yet to be announced artist. The studio that we stepped into was called Sarm Studios.
This studio was built in the 60s by Chris Blackwell who started Island Records (U2, Bob Marley etc) and the albums that were recorded there were life changing for me. We’re talking about like from Led Zeppelin IV (”Stairway to Heaven”), Queen (We’re the Champions), Bob Marley(who stayed upstairs of the studio for a year), the Rolling Stones to modern day legends like Muse, Coldplay, One Direction, Rihanna etc.
We were so blessed to be recording there as the engineer broke us the sad news that they will be pulling down the studio in a couple of months, converting it to condos due to practical reasons. It’s really tragic and shows how the recording industry is changing.
Nevertheless, it was such an honour to step into a room knowing that once upon a time, songs that shaped my musical identity were recorded right there. If there ever was a truly mystical vibe that fills you with inspiration when you stepped into a room, this was it. I can’t really put that thick vibe being in that room to words but that live room just sounded like any sound you made in it will sound great.
Sarm Studios, you will be missed. R.I.P.
This is ain’t just a rotting old couch in front of the reception of Sarm Studios, it’s Bob Marley’s rotting old couch!
The Project SuperStar 2014 auditions came to a final close last weekend, where judges Roy, Dawn and me had the unenviable task of choosing 12 out of 6000 hopefuls to be in the competition, unenviable because I could see the 60 over applicants in the final audition really gave it their best in hope of entering the top 12 and of course, not all could make it there.
I’ve since received messages from some of the contestants who didn’t make it that day, expressing their disappointment and despair. And I felt that I had to write this post to answer them all in one go.
To those of you out there who didn’t get that gig, win that award, secure that job you really wanted. For you out there who’s still feeling affected. Here’s some actions I can suggest you to take.
1. Appreciate the journey
There are 2 sides to every story, you can beat yourself up for failing, let it drag you down, or you give yourself a pat on the back that you tried and appreciate the things you’ve learned along the way. Make your own choice on which is the better way to make use of your time.
2. Learn from experience
Analyse what went wrong during the audition, or the approach in your delivery. I’m sure you’d know at least a few factors that might have caused you not to get what you wanted. You can now know you shouldn’t do that again. Do your homework. And if you’re not sure, you can always seek feedback from those around you. Or go do more research or take up a course on how to up your game for the next time round.
One of the more frequent reasons that I hear from performers on why they didn’t do well. Unless someone is forcing you to take the stage, you must understand you got there by choice. Meaning you want to do this, and you want to do it well. It’s very natural to be nervous during a big audition, however, you are up on this stage to entertain. Even if you are nervous, you really have to practice acting that you are confident. Sometimes I get on stage and see 20 000-30 000 looking at me, I’ll get overwhelmed as well. However I know I have a responsibility to do well, and being nervous is not gonna help. At the same time, I always have the thought in my head that says “If I screw up, so what? What’s the very worst thing that can happen?”. Fail lorrrr, then try again loooorrr!
3. There is more than one way to achieve what you want in life.
The last PSS was 7 years ago, many were very disappointed because they felt that they cannot wait another 7 years for the next one to happen. Well, PSS is not the ONLY way to get what you want. In this day and age, there are many different ways to get discovered in the entertainment biz, and there are many different avenues for you to make a living out of doing something you love. You can go do Youtube videos, you can go out and source for gigs, you can form a band, you write your own songs, you can go learn an instrument, you can explore acting, you can try hosting, you can learn dancing…The list goes on and on. If you felt that you have exhausted all methods of getting recognised for your talent, you probably haven’t tried hard enough because there are always new opportunities all around if you search hard for it. No one owes you anything. No one needs to help you. It’s up to yourself to churn out that drive to continuously improve, look around and pave the way for yourself. I had someone here who once lamented to me that he/she feels that Singapore is not a place that appreciates his/her talent and that he/she feels much more appreciated to audience overseas. In which I said, then what you waiting for? If you really want this that much, then get out of here and chase that dream!
You just have to keep that fire in your passion alive. Again I’d say, the journey travelled is much more valuable than the end result. If you keep your head up, no matter what the outcome is. You’ll be able to say, I really tried my very best, 至少我对的起自己.
I hope this little bit of advice from my experience in this biz can be of help to you. The best people in the biz failed many times to learn how to succeed. If you can treat failure as a short detour on your route to success. You might not be so hard on yourself, and use that energy to push yourself harder to up your game.
So…keep your chin up! True success is derived from how you overcome your failures! See you guys in the battlefield. 加油！
On the 20th of June, we introduced Kenny to the media and the results have been very encouraging, with him being featured on every entertainment publication/media I can think of in Singapore. I would like to think that his good results of his release in Taiwan within a short month plus gave the media over here a push to be more supportive.
Here’s some photos of what went down that day.
This is our present to Kenny for his good results, we had 王白安老师, a member of the Singapore Calligraphy Association to write this piece for Kenny. 王老师 had previously written for ministers like Grace Fu and more. It was interesting watching him at work and learning more about this age old tradition.
And to wrap up the event, we also had Yee Wei, Director of Girl in Pinafore on stage with Kenny’s brothers from the cast who came down to show their support!
Kenny went back to Taiwan for a short trip to film a series for 腾讯 and after that he’ll back to do more live performances in Ngee Ann Poly, Hougang Secondary School, Anderson JC etc. We’ll also be taking him to some Singapore offices as part of the “Ten Storeys Urban Tour”. Hope to see you there!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been noting the buzz around FB/Instagram about contestants auditioning for PSS(Project Superstar) and VOC(Voice of China). I’ve been told the response for the open auditions for Project Superstar has seen 1000s of Superstar hopefuls lining up all the way out to the car park.
Well, apart from me having met many highly successful stars and artists over the years. Some of you might know that I’m one of the judges for the upcoming PSS, so I’ve been asked on how should one prepare?
Well, apart from FM Pop Music School running a crash course named “Singing Competition Preparation Workshop”.
Here are some other tips on what you can do to prep yourself for events like these, or that next important gig of your life.
1. Understand your goal
Project Superstar = looking for a Superstar, Voice of China = looking for the greatest voice, Battle of the bands = Looking for that most kickass group of musicians, Wedding gig = entertaining the guests supporting the main stars – the wedding couple, etc
This might seem elementary, however it’s crucial. For e.g. PSS is looking for a Superstar, don’t go on stage not showing up like one, singing to yourself or dressing up like you going to the supermarket.
2. Face reality
Singing competitions, like it or not, are all about entertaining the audience. It’s not all about the talent you have. Much like the music biz, the more people like you, the further you go.
3. Knowing your product
Get to know yourself better, create a gripping story, look into your most likable qualities other than your musical talent. Engage your audience, market yourself, know your “product” (which is you, yourself).
4. Prepare, rehearse, practice, repeat.
It’s all the same, confidence comes with practice. It’s like playing the same video game again and again, (or did any of you manage to catch “Edge of Tomorrow”?) once you get familiar with your material, that’s when you can add flair, consider showmanship, inject feel into your performance.
5. Be confident
Even if you are not confident, you have to practice looking, feeling confident. If you can’t make it, fake it. This, my friend, is a secret of me and many working professionals on why we can sustain a career in music (shhhh…don’t tell anyone )
6. Envision your goal
Other than practicing for your goal. This is an exercise I always ask my trainees to practice. It’s actually a part of mind programming (Neuro Linguistic Programming) where when you make yourself believe you can achieve greatness.
Imagine yourself on that stage, imagine you are feeling totally on top form, confident(if you usually have stage fright, imagine the exact opposite). Imagine you giving the greatest performance of your life, all the notes hitting perfectly as you practiced it, imagine the crowd going crazy, imagine that feeling you are having in response to them loving you etc.
You might surprise yourself that when you get on stage, you find yourself more confident, even a sense of deja vu.
7. When on stage
When you are up there, don’t hold back. Give it all. Seriously ask yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen?Nothing actually. Nothing really life threatening that is.
You might get kicked out, so what? Life goes on, at least that shot you gave was your best one.
8. When off stage
Work hard on building your “product”, make use of social media, there are so many ways to call attention to yourself. Even if it’s not music/singing related, it’s still attention. And also, don’t get cocky. Most of the superstars I’ve met, I’m talking like even world famous ones who are gigantic on stage, are the most humble people offstage, and try their best to make everyone around them feel comfortable.
9. Study your competition
Look around, study your competition. Study their weaknesses, understand your strengths. Competition is great, and doesn’t need to be treated negatively. If your mindset is open minded. What it does is bring everyone’s standard up collectively if everyone befriends, shares and works together. That’s what we all really want, to get better at our game. And don’t be intimidated if you think that person is so much better than you. So what? Like I said, in life, it’s not all about talent, it’s also about you as a person, the way you treat people, the way people feel about you etc.
10. If you fail this time, are you a failure?
No! Singing competitions are not the only route to stardom. In fact, just like releasing an album, even if you win or go far, you barely only just started,
In life, there are always more than one way to get to your desired goal, you just have to be pro active to find it. More importantly, don’t bother doing it it if you don’t even believe in it. You make your own choices.
I can go on and on, as there are so many contributing factors that make up a successful Superstar, musician, band etc. But I think these 10 points are enough for you to get started.
Yeah! After a month plus in Taiwan, Kenny is back for his homecoming promotion. We’ll be holding a press conference tomorrow where Kenny will be sharing the stories of his promotion in Taiwan.
With almost 90% of his Facebook fans from Taiwan, we are all psyched up planning more activities during Kenny’s stay in Singapore this time to allow him reach out to more fans in Singapore. It’s always very exciting for us to launch a new artist into any market.
Will update more after our press conference tomorrow!
My last blog post/question on whether the Singapore music industry or aspiring newcomers is limited to less than 100 people. had quite a bit of response on the SGMUSO group page and on the walls of those musos who shared my post.
If you missed it, you can read it here http://blog.omy.sg/hyr/2014/06/09/a-question-to-the-serious-aspiring-artistbandmusician-based-in-singapore/
I’m glad out of that we’ve managed to get a few more people aware of the SGMUSO’s existence and the initiatives that’s been organised so far. Yes, I’m aware the promotion of SGMUSO has much to be improved however did I also mention it’s non-profit?
That being said, it’s not just the SGMUSO that’s churning out advice for those who are truly passionate in music and am looking to take it further, there are constantly free workshops (my school has conducted quite a few of them last year), gigs, events, music forums such as S.O.F.T, information flying around that if you seek and find, you can benefit from.
And in one of the feedback, I saw the mention of maybe it’s because most Singaporeans/Singaporean musicians have a lack of faith in the local music scene.
Ok…here we go.
For that one Coldplay, Simple Plan, Courtney Pine, Mumford and Sons, Gary Clark, Lady Gaga, Bob Ludwig, 30 seconds to Mars, Lamb of God, Skrillex, JayZ, Steve Lukather, Chris Lord Alge, Steve Lillywhite, Thomas Lange, Daniel Glass, Sharon Osbourne, Diane Warren, PSY, Girls Generation, A*Mei， 吳莫愁, Siti Nurhaliza, Adira, P Ramlee, Timbaland, Steve Vai, Bodyslam,Da Endophine, JJ Lin, Keith Urban
etc etc that makes it and achieves widespread success. (I’m trying to cover as many genres, language and positions in the industry as I can )
Do you need to guess how many billion others never EVER reach there? And for those who haven’t made it, how many are still toiling on, living without luxuries, fuelled by their
passion in the hope of that one day?
Many, I have met so many, all over the world, I give them utmost respect as that defines the artist, that defines the hunger chasing after the passion of their art. I have had the greatest of luck to be able to survive till this day, and the feeling of being able to survive doing what you love, is the greatest feeling in the world. It still brings me a smile every morning when I wake up. And even if one day all this goes away, I’ll still be smiling because at least I can live to say I’ve tried.
And this is also probably the reason why it’s not the easiest thing, entering into the music industry. Just because wah lau eh, so shiok…who don’t want!??
I always like to take for e.g., the career of PSY. Whether you like his stuff or not, who would have expected some uncle dancing some funny dance with babes to take over the world and break into the INTERNATIONAL scene? Did PSY ever expected it when he was preparing for his 1st album which released in 2001? Did he decide to give up after almost 10 years in the business, running into financial difficulties? If he had lost faith, that would have been the end of it. Instead he proved to the world, that anyone can come out from anywhere no matter what you language/background/look is.
And with him as an example, I say that, in this day and age where social media and the internet has levelled the playing field for everyone, that the next person/act/artist/musician/band, sure as hell can be from Singapore. Yes Singapore, is a very small country, however we can always reach out to the world. Just like many industries in Singapore, many have found huge success exporting their business over our shores.
Apart from global takeover, for making a living out of making music in Singapore, I’d say we have tons of success stories. The unsung heroes. The teacher that teaches music in your school, the musician that entertains you in your pub, that soundman that makes sure you sound great over the PA, the songwriter that writes hits that you might have heard of, the session band that tours with an artist you might love and that engineer that is in charge of recording VOs for that jingle you’ve heard. All these guys are also part of the local music scenery, and there are many of them, making a honest credible, survivable livelihood.
So if you are a Singaporean musician who has a lack of faith in the local music scene. Or think it’s impossible to make a living out of music being from Singapore. Maybe you’d like to reaccess.
1. Is it that you have a lack of faith in the local music scene?
2. Or is it that you have a lack of faith in following thru with your passion?
Not same same, but different.