Been thick busy having the time of my life running around at my latest playground, Leo Studio (look us up on FB at Leostudiosg). Running things through with my trusty team and putting myself in the position of the client who wishes to get nothing but the best of both sound and comfort to create the soundscape of their lives.
Thankfully, having visiting and renting recording studios for the last 20 years of my life. My experiences in the best and worst of them came in very handy!
And also thankfully, I’ve always been blessed to have good friends who’ll support me if the need arises. What better to test the recording studio than to get some of them in to come join me whack up a storm? So I called on Gary Gideon.
Gary is a renowned session drummer with touring and recording credits too numerous to mention. Among the acts that have been under his groove include Air Supply, A*Mei, Jacky Cheung, Jonathan Lee, Harvey Malaiholo (Indonesia) etc. He is also the very first session drummer I have ever recorded back the famed Form Studios back in the 90s(later renamed the Audioplex). He was cool then to save my ass by helping me write his own chart for the drum parts (as I can’t write or write music, I can only play it) and he’s still cool now to come onboard to whack some thunderous grooves so we can start discovering the sweet spots in Leo Studio!!
And of course, drums have to come with…bass. That’s where Clement readily jumped onboard. Apart from wearing that gold suit as the bassist for our band, the AMPs and jamming “Jit Pat Ban” with me in the local movie 12 Lotus. Clement Yang Xi is much more well known nowadays as a multi instrumentalist, multi music biz man (Hood, Guitar77, The Music Academy) and plays in multiple bands(Ugly in the Morning, Smells like last Friday)
And of course, helming the Leo Studio SSL Duality SE mixer is Frank Lee, Leo studio designer and renowned sound engineer who’s balanced the hits and worked with so many successful local and overseas artists. Stefanie Sun, JJ Lin, David Tao and the list goes on and on…
And what better day to do our test sessions than on Friday the 13? It was a fun crazy sounding day where we broke out all our stops, allowed ourselves to let all things that could go wrong, go wrong so that we can fix it right up for our clients to get the best out of Leo Studio for their dream session! So far, the visitors that we’ve invited over to the studio have been giving very positive and at times, overwhelmingly nice comments over this work of passion but we were very prepared to hear the bad ones as well so we can improve over time. Thankfully the sessions went very well, again with the help of many friends who decided to pop by to lend Frank and me a helping hand. You know who you are. Thanks guys!!!
Here are some more pics while Frank and me play around with the tracks. Will be posting up the session soon! Stay tuned!!!
I chanced upon this after I decided to search “Van Halen” on Youtube after listening to their classic album “1984″ on vinyl (that cute baby cover on the bottom left) which I bought from Melaka from Inverno Music at Mahkota Parade. (It sounds stunning by the way).
I can say I totally identify with the Youtube generation as I myself have a very short visual attention span. Which is why ever since I discovered music 20 over years ago, I rarely watch TV or even Youtube for more than 15minutes without moving away to do something else.
This video interview was 55minutes where Eddie Van Halen spoke at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History on February 12th, in Washington D.C., about innovation as part of the national “What It Means To Be American” program in a sold-out event. This video contains no glam high production value filming, quick fancy angles, or cutaways etc. Just moving, inspiring, very real dialogue from a true living legend.
Now I know some of you might not know who Van Halen is but you have might heard of this song by Micheal Jackson called ‘Beat It’ and heard this crazy guitar solo in the interlude, or danced to the song “Jump” during some 80s Mambo gathering.
However if you are a inspiring musician/artist/songwriter or band. What you can draw from this interview has nothing with with Van Halen’s music.
Instead it digs deep into the ‘do or die’ mentality that I have always
respected and admired when I see musicians, new or experienced, willing to push so hard for their art no matter what environment they are from. Especially in some cases it borders on the basic essence of survival (and by that I don’t just mean not having internet access). I mentioned previously of Ed Sheeran running around homeless for 4 years. And in Eddie Van Halen’s case, where his family went for the American Dream, a family of musicians, immigrating over from Holland with 50 bucks in their pocket. And yet, he has made so many incredible innovations against all odds.
I was glued to what he said from beginning to end. All I kept repeating in my mind is…”Wow”. And especially if you are an electric guitarist, I think you’ll be “Super duper quadruple Wow”.
Having making music myself for almost 20 years as a career, I’m nowhere even close to what this man has accomplished. This interview really kicked me in the head to hurl myself way deeper than I already am into this passion of music making and hopefully be like him in future. Standing strong at 60 years old and still continuing to inspire three generations of musicians!
If you really really think music is what you want to for a living. I strongly urge you to watch this. Eddie Van Halen didn’t just live the American Dream, he lived the dream for everyone out there with an undying passion.
PS : Oh and speaking of passion I’ve almost completed the playground of my music making dreams. This truly has been a crazy journey of realising my passion for making music and hopefully allowing others to do the same. For those of you who’ve been following me, you might have heard me raving of Leo Studio. Do search, follow and like us on https://www.facebook.com/LeoStudioSG?ref=hl . I’ll be posting more dream pics and the story of Leo Studio soon =D
Yeah! For this CNY, we thought we wanted to give Lyla a treat and bring her out of Singapore for the 1st time ever! 1st up, the passport!! I made sure she had a great nice rebel photo for her passport and I think we achieved just that! =D
And with that, to Melaka we went! Road trip!!! complete with in-car IPad entertainment
She was super happy thru out the trip, refusing to sleep till it was absolutely knock out neccessary!
I’d say Melaka is great for kids, cause there’s much visual activity with the colours and sights
Ahhh the A Famosa, let me tell you a true story. During my secondary three History year end exam, my teacher decided to read one of our classmates essay submission (the exam topic was “Downfall of the Portuguese) to the class for our entertainment. And so it read “One day, Mr FAfejwhar (some random Portuguese sounding name) was walking on the A Famosa, suddenly he slipped on a banana skin and fell. Downfall of the Portuguese. The end.
Our class cracked the hell up! hahaha I still remember that guy’s name was Phillip.
And of course, there was chicken rice balls!!! There’s this place called Baba Fred at the Jonker area which we went twice cause it was so good!! And the service was good with no ridiculously long queues!
ahhh, the freshness of everything when we’re young, I think this was actually one major highlight for Lyla as she had so much fun running around the Holiday Inn’s lobby carpet =D
However, it was not all just super fun for Lyla as well, I discovered a very well stocked and knowledgeable staffed music shop, Inverno Music at Mahkota Parade! I was very pleased to find very good condition vinyl collectibles!
All in all, this Melaka trip was a huge success! It was such a nice and fulfilling experience for the Ng family, I’d definitely recommend Melaka to those with new families wanting a warm up to major future trips! Woo hoo!
Yay! 开工大吉！What a splendid break this CNY was! Maybe it’s to do with age or with more time spent away, CNY is getting more and more precious every year. This year has been especially nice to switching off from work and spending time with family and friends. Laughing at the same stories year after year, and contributing more to next year’s gathering.
Here’s some pics to share…Hope you enjoyed your CNY as well!
And on the 8th day we started work with a feast!
And after a well deserved break, we’re back to work full force! I’m really thankful work is fun, Kenny’s new album is gonna be exciting! We’ve already have tons of songs and ideas in our heads. 开工大吉！！
Wow this has been such a hectic year. I’m writing this from the plane from Shanghai (I’ve been here 5 times since the start of the year?!) heading back to Singapore as Kenny was invited to perform at a televised charity event on the eve of CNY. The event was organised by 玉佛襌寺, a famous temple in Shanghai. Well even though I missed my reunion dinner and my 1st day of CNY, I think being able to play a part to help people in need makes up for it Plus I got to experience my 1st all vegetarian reunion dinner. Music never fails to surprise me in the places it takes me. I shall say no more as you’ll read more about it very soon. I’d say it’s been an interesting and meaningful trip over the last 4 days!
Will be back on the 1st day and I’ll finally get to have a good switch off time with family for CNY! Woo hoo!
Have a great CNY 2015 everyone!
Yeah! It’s a wrap after 9mths plus of our Career in hit songwriting course! Just like the 1st batch, it’s with great satisfaction as I can hear our trainees all taking a step up from the songwriting skills and being more aware of not just the music but the industry as well. Of course I’m sure they’ve had many laughs along the way. During the course, I emphasised more than once, the importance of forming their own teams as music is really people coming together to make great works. And I’m sure thruout this course, they have forged their own valuable networks with like minded trainees. As with the previous batch, I’m also happy to plan to/have signed some of these trainees and involved them in our production work.
Pop music has always depended greatly on ‘the song’ and it’s really up to these guys now to carry on the torch to more great hits!
I’m on the road to Jia Xing, a place 1.5 hours drive from Shanghai to watch the episode in which I played music consultant for Hua Jian in his contestant’s battle round.
Having travelled this route for 5 times in the last 2 months, I’d say it’s very relaxing. Some people can’t stand travelling, but I for one don’t mind it. Especially that this route is very straight with not many cars, it allows much 放空 to be done. In Singapore, where everything is within reach, plus with the internet, what’s apps and what have yous. Everything can be accessed and done fast. However being in the creative field, I think it’s really nice when your mind is allowed time to wander, and to stretch. And especially in long rides like these, where I’m not the one driving, I can put on my headphones and really get into the music that I’m listening to. It’s a real treat for me I tell you.
With so much ‘noise’ happening around life, we tend to not be able to do just one thing at a time. And I cherish experiences like these.
In the plane on the way here, I managed to catch this show called ‘Whiplash’. For those who think they are passionate about music, I suggest you go catch this show. Some might think that it’s dramatised, but I don’t think so. I’ve managed to meet many people along my travels who are really willing to give anything for their art. Maybe after you watch this show, you might think…hmm, I might not want this so badly after all.
If you think, aiyah, this is just fiction, you can also go read up about a real life example about the singer songwriter of the moment, Ed Sheeran, on his life and him being homeless, sleeping in subways for 4 years and the many other sacrifices he made to end up being the 1st artist to perform solo, just him and his guitar at Wembley Stadium.
I know to many a parent, this kind of total uncertainty in life which has no proven formula or route to success, is totally daunting. But now me being a parent myself, having experienced starting something from nothing, I’ll trust my kid with her choices if she decides to move into a risky route in future as well.
Just as I thought when I was 20 years old, Don’t try don’t know. As a good friend in the corporate world told me that what I get to experience is something that most people won’t get. To which I said I know, and am grateful everyday for this. I know that even if one day this all fails, these experiences of trying my best, giving it all for passion, will make for beautiful memories in future.
At the time of writing, I’m sitting on a plane from Shanghai heading to Genting, interrupting myself from watching “Sonic Highways”, by Dave Grohl of Foo fighters to write this blog. The TV series follows the Foo fighters travelling around the United States to various cities, musical landmarks and recording a track in each city that eventually made up their album. As I’m watching it, I’m thinking to myself, what an inspiring month!
In this month alone I’ve travelled to 嘉兴 3 times, a 1.5 hour drive from Shanghai where I am working with 华健 for the Sing my song China 中国好歌曲 singer/songwriter competition. I knew right from the start that I will be experiencing hell as at the end of all that, I’d have to arrange 5 songs within 48 hours so that the contestants can practice in time for their battle, but I jumped at the chance when I was invited as I knew this will be fun and inspiring.
And so yes, I did experience hell, thank to the powers that be that I’ve always had no problem seeking help from collaborators when I needed them, so I had my usual string arrangement partner Bang Wenfu helping me and this time I also pulled in one of my Hit songwriting trainees, Tan Kah Kong to also work with me on some of the tracks as well on strings and brass parts. By the time I finished the 5 songs and had to hit the plane again in a few hours back to 嘉兴
I was…totally…shagged out. And for those people who know me, I won’t usually say I’m tired from work =D
So in that case, where did the fun and inspiring part come from? Aside from working with Hua Jian on this, it was also working with the highly productive and talented show production team, where they really seem to have thought of everything to make their show an entertaining but yet highly musical one. Coming back with the 5 arrangements and watching it unfold before me with the totally kick ass ‘basic’ band set up(which already had 9 members) and later having the 18 piece live string section come in is truly a treat to watch.
And finally of course, watching these talented singer songwriters at work, composing stuff in front of us, putting their total heart and soul into it, totally takes me back to when I 1st started. Except that honestly I really don’t think I was as driven, hungry, and all ready to absorb and learn anything they can as these guys.
So yesterday, back in the hotel room after all the madness, I started to watch “Sonic Highways”, learning the amazing culture of the various musical soundscapes each city brought about. I’m just being hit back and forth by inspiration from the East to the West!
As January comes to an end, judging by how it turned out, I think 2015 is gonna be a super kick ass year!
Have you watched LylaHZN’s 1st song MV＃TouTouTouFlo? If you haven’t…Here it is!! =D
I’ve also put this song up on Youku, for my friends in China who cannot access Youtube. I actually showed this song to 金池 and she was so tickled that she decided to share my post on Weibo with the Youku link. And in less than 2 days after putting the link up. 120 000+ people have seen that Lyla released her 1st song on Youku! Ahhh, the power of the masses in China.
I’ve been asked if we’ll continue making more music. Hahahah. Her 1st song was created by chance, a spark of fun, so for that, I’ll leave it up to Lyla. I created her very own Youtube page LylaHZN, Instagram and Facebook. For her fans just type LylaHZN on these platforms. I believe when she grows up, we’ll have such a laugh looking thru all this, like a picture and video diary of her childhood!!
10 Jan 2015 was the first show that kicked off 华健’s new Tour 《今天唱什麽》2015世界巡迴演唱會 concert tour at Taipei’s 小巨蛋 Taipei Arena. I played guitars (4 guitars to be exact) and arranged some of the songs in the concert programme. This was a completely new tour and the band rehearsed hard from December onwards, this time we had a brass section and the songs I’d say are more dynamic as there are more fast and mid tempo songs thrown in. Total hats off to 华健 for working his ass off for this tour, working with us and refining all details of the music, arrangements and being hands on with every aspect till the very last minute!
I think the most fun part of this current tour for me is the 江湖 (Hua Jian’s latest album) segment where I got to play the craziest guitar part I’ve ever came up with, which is the solo bit for a song in the album entitled 客梦. I clearly remembered taking almost 3 hours toying around with that part with the instructions from Hua Jian being “use the western 12 string guitar and make it sound like a Chinese instrument”. Which was the basis of the whole album in general. So I locked myself in the studio and kept playing and playing what must have been almost a 100 takes and then picked out bits and pieces like a jig saw puzzle. After I finished putting together something, I remember telling Wei Sheng, Hua Jian’s production team’s engineer saying, “Ok I’m not sure what I just did. But I’m done!” To my delight, 华健 loved it so much that he insisted he wants to feature this during the concert. And in which he did.
After touring with Hua Jian for almost 4 years, my respect for him and his tireless drive to excel, even at his level never dies. To be part of the production of an album, without commercial pressures with the only goal to fulfil the artist personal artistic vision, though super fun, is also super tiring, as it also means constant experimentation as there are really no rules here. But once you get it down. The results are extremely satisfying! In a perfect world, this is how all music should be done.
I think Lyla agrees as well, as she’s watched the video of my guitar part for 客梦 at least a few 100 times! =D