Tag Archives: music

Smoking makes for a happier life

For the past two weeks I’ve made the effort to smoke one of my lovely Sampoerna cigarettes a day – though I have forgotten on a few days – but I feel like part of me is back, and my digestive system runs smoothly, and I just feel overall more satisfied!

I did stop smoking for six months or so, for health reasons, but now I’ve started again I feel better than ever. Goes against conventional wisdom, huh? I think it shows how powerful the mind is (and possibly how powerful nicotine is… haha), and how it can lead you to believe that doing an enjoyable activity makes you feel more creative, more alive and better at singing. Ehem. Besides I’ve had a carton of Sampoerna for like, a year – someone’s gotta go through it!

Anyway, I’m speaking as if I’m a chain-smoker – I’m definitely not; in fact I feel a bit sick in smoking rooms (who doesn’t…) and find any cigarette other than Sampoerna pretty rank, and one cigarette a day is enough for me, maybe two if I feel like it. Like wine, maybe one dose a day does have its benefits…

I’m also taking daily doses of Michael Jackson – the more I watch him the more amazing I find his moves. His acceptance speeches always contain a motivational, inspirational and above all, wholesome, humanitarian message, with a genuine attitude that is not simply paying lip service to charitable causes. Oh yes, the Invincible album actually has some really good songs on it. And I’m desperate to get a dance floor in my flat so I can practice some dance moves!

P.S: I’ve recorded a cover of Rock With You. I’ll upload it on Soundcloud some point soon…

Michael Jackson: the best performer in the world! RIP.

This whole post could be summed up in one expression: “Doh.” However I just would like to take a moment to remember pop’s greatest performer.

Today I watched the This Is It DVD, lent to me by a friendly colleague. I can’t help feeling, why do you have to go? It would have been so wonderful if he’d been able to play even one night. Then we would have seen the splendour of his show in full.

Performance is his soul. He is truly unsurpassed, in fame, star power and talent and very very rare if not one of a kind. It’s very rare to see a performer that good yet so kind and humble. I don’t know, I think of other big artists, like Madonna, Bono, those kind of people, and while of course they are no doubt charismatic and entertaining, there’s something quite ‘egoistic’ about them. You can see this in 99% of performers, even the so called ‘shy’ ones. It’s probably called being human.

But with Michael Jackson, you are just entranced. It’s just art embodied, channeled through his being. He manages to exude sexiness without actually being sexy, despite having a strange plastic face, unnatural complexion and lately, an extremely skinny body.  His passion just comes through his voice, his music and every jerk and jolt of his body. Just like an all singing, all dancing robot. Watch this!

And every live show of his you see on Youtube, there will be tons of girls and boys screaming. I won’t be and have never been one of them, but I cannot deny he is one incredible, selfless performer that lives purely for his music, and all that he loves. Talent, genius, hard work, selflessness and genuine concern for the world  all rolled into one. What a life. How inspirational!

Singapore, how I love thee

Lovely enjoying himself

I’m finally back from a wonderful holiday in my homeland… well been back a couple of weeks now. I always feel downhearted whenever I arrive back in the UK – not that I don’t like it, and thank God I’ve arrived safely – but the airports aren’t as visitor friendly. In Singapore it all makes sense – the taxi rank is just there, and there’ll be taxis waiting for your custom, with sufficiently polite drivers. Or, my relatives will be there to pick me up. Upon arriving at Gatwick I had to hunt around for a taxi, no, I had to ring for one, then walk through some other hotel’s carpark to get to some random pick up spot. We waited where we were told. But no, there were 3 different spots, on the same width of road which has been inconveniently split into 3 sections of roads, and the taxi was waiting on the other side of the road, which we then had to cross. There weren’t any signs specifying where to wait for a cab. The driver was grumpy cos he had been hanging around for like, what 5 mins? Tsk I have no time for this – I’ve been waiting longer myself! Why didn’t he ring? How come there are no signs?!

The following day, another rude taxi driver. Macam bagus aje. And not only that, taxi drivers in Singapore give you exact change, and even round it down. Over here, no chance. If it’s £12.40 and you paid £13, you’ll be waiting around for him to fumble around for change, and he takes a little bit longer to do that so that you eventually give up and let them keep the change – OR, they just go ‘Thank you’ –  and that’s it, no change. They think they have a god-given right to the change. I really hate that. I suppose I grew up in a no tipping culture. Hey, what you see is what you pay what! And not only that, it ain’t cheap!

I have moved out to the provinces now, so no more daily tube rides for me, and the irony is that although the journey is much further, it doesn’t feel further. Esp on a direct train. I can just about play two rounds of Hell’s Kitchen on my iPod.

All this week I had been on a TV presenting course, which was a lot of fun. It was quite an eye-opener, how enjoyable it was. It ain’t that easy – I mean on a course, we’re all molly coddled – but in real life TV presenting I’m sure will be quite challenging. I do want to go into it. Maybe children’s presenting! Haha. I want to internationally acclaimed at something, but I’m not quite clear what yet. I’ve tried music and now I haven’t really got much faith in it. I enjoy listening and dancing to it but making it just seems like a lot of effort. And it makes a noise. At one point I enjoyed making clothes and bedclothes because I can be creative in silence. TV presenting is slightly different as well as you are essentially speaking – nothing weird there. With singing I just get self-conscious at home. Until I start singing.

Anyhoo, I want to start a Kelab Cakap Melayu in London – to improve my karat Malay. And also would be interesting to see who comes. Anybody who wants to speak Malay and practise would be welcome. Anyone who speaks in English in a whole sentence will kena fine. There will be dictionaries on the ready!

Jazzanova Jazz Cafe

Really nice gig. Jazzanova had a really good turnout; decidedly mature audience. During the first two songs I did think ‘Hmm, may be nicer to listen to this at home’. But it got better when they played stuff like No Use and Days to Come. I prefer it when they’re all syncopated beats and electronic and mushrooming sevens and strange chord progressions. It’s all about the 7s, heheh. A few songs sound a bit dated, like what overseas hire bands would play in Singapore clubs in the 90s, and I don’t think I rate their latest single from their latest album too much, as I found it too mainstream, even cheesy funk at parts. I found the guitarist very cute. He’s got a nice, soft kind look about him. The singer was amazing, he could funk bass AND sing like a mama. He had a cool zebra print towel as well. It was so great right at the end when he interlaced Gypsy Woman with another song they played twice that night with a great bassline which I know but don’t know the name of.

It would have been great to make a whole night of it, have a nice terrace seat upstairs with food and drinks, cool disco afterward – at least would have warranted the £25 cab fare home.

Singapore National Day… and get rich slowly…in music?

Really enjoyed watching the Singapore National Day Parade online. It’s better than ever and the music direction is not as cheesy. It looked Kraftwerky at one point. Seems like they are taking onboard lots (more) of inspiration from overseas but of course with a Singaporean twist. I’m seriously contemplating going back. I know I’ll move back at some point, but now, probably sooner than I expect. They are taking arts more seriously and now that I have experience and buy-in from people here I can see myself taking forward a music/performing career there.

For the first half of the show, half of my screen was the parade and the other half were posts on investing and an explanation on quatitative easing. Another blog I follow sometimes is Get Rich Slowly. Blogs like these can get quite addictive especially if written by good bloggers. I’m saving, paying down a debt from my “record label” (you can say all I got was a bunch of recordings, but that’s something to give the grandchildren), paying into a pension, investing a tiny little bit… but amongst all this order I feel that my life could be more exciting, and more aligned to what I truly am. [And, of course, the majority of people would agree with this re: themselves]. I’m not young forever, and children are looming closer. At the same time, I’m not prepared to lose the stability I have achieved in the past year.

And a big problem with me is that I can’t seem to equate music with making money. Maybe it’s because of very early conditioning – I remember, as a child,  my mother telling off my brother for being a musician because “it doesn’t pay”. Of course it does when done right – look at Beyonce! – and there are plenty of people who make money out of music in various ways. But I’ve always found that I shell out. I’ve made money out of it a few times, but never as much as what I spend on it. And I came to see at one point, that the people making money in music are not the musicians but guitar shops, rehearsal rooms, recording studios, even promoters – all in on the ‘dream’.

I do know a bunch of very lovely guys who are making a decent living off music. They play weddings and corporate events, as well as original stuff in the guise of another band. Absolutely superb musicians. One of them is a maths graduate and does their books. How convenient!

I should look into getting an income stream from music. Somehow. I want to sing happy 90s dance hits to happily drunk people and get paid for it. Just need to get some backing tracks and a monkey on a piano (or a cat!) and we’re off!

By the way my brother Malex is still performing and has released a couple of albums which are cult successes back in Singapore. He does have a day job, but he is still staying true to his passion! Check him out, he’s the one with the blue guitar.

Lovebox II – Doves 1, Groove Armada 0

Just out of curiosity, is it true that Groove Armada organised Lovebox? Because they certainly took advantage of it by not playing that many hits. I know their ‘greatest hits’ album fairly well and I only recognised a few songs in the set. The singer was absolutely exceptional, great moves, incredible voice and interesting adrogynous look. Pumping out new tune after new tune. Withdrew for a bit. Then came back. They played a little bit of At the river. OK. Then they played a blasting great Superstylin. The crowd thought, YEAH, the party’s happ’ning now! Everyone’s skanking and jumping! Light show bonanza!

But no! Right after that… it ended. No Get Down. How disappointing. I also overheard others muttering ‘…they didn’t play I See You Baby’. Was really miffed as I had been looking forward to that hearing them play Get Down all weekend. That song isn’t even that old! Why did they leave it out?

Doves were before them and they were great. Again, not crushed like sardines, and we got a super good spot right at the front. They played There Goes The Fear at the end. It’s also nice to hear them reprising a few tunes from their Lost Souls album. Can’t believe it was all those years ago.

Lovebox One

Duran Duran was the main reason I was at Lovebox, and had a great time. I really like gigs where there’re lots of people, but no crushing. NERD were pretty good – great musicianship though I do find their songs a bit all over the place -and they invited people onstage to dance with them. Initially it was pretty fun to watch but for the final song which was She Wants to Move – brilliant! – they invited a whole posse of girls to come onstage and it was hell for a few minutes and girls scrambled around me to get onstage. The good part was that it got people out and I could secure a good spot to see Duran Duran. I think they were eager not be a hits jukebox – and I respect their choice of choosing new songs – but not sure about their selection of back catalogue. I mean, I’m a big fan and I know the songs and certainly didn’t mind, but seeing it from the point of view of a semi-fan who knows mainly the hits, The Reflex and Hungry Like a Wolf  or even Too Much Information would have been better choices than Skin Trade or Election Day. Their new songs sound really cool and updated, though somehow it sounds like trying to hip-up and un-hip song at parts.

But yeah, the crowd, initially there was a bit of squeezing, but it spaced out during the set, more space to jump and dance and have fun. There were older people there as well – some with kids – so they were having civilised fun without annoying other people. Maybe I did. Heheh. Duran Duran is no longer the sort of band teenagers swoon over – Simon Le Bon is 51! – and me screaming “Nick!” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. In fact in between songs I can’t believe how quiet people are. And everybodywas just expecting an encore rather than clamouring for one!

It’s great to see them at a festival setting. Last time I saw them was in 2003 in Singapore. That was deffo one of the best gigs I’ve been to as I’ve waited 10 years – so lucky they came to Singapore again as the previous time they played I was too young and was taken to see Mickey Mouse on Ice instead. Was really miffed. But I more than made up for it! And now I’ve seen them in London too – when I was a kid listening to them every day I wouldn’t have thought I’ll see them in London. They sounded slicker, bigger and newer yesterday, but of course it was missing the spark that’s only possible in a smaller venue.

Today I’m off to Lovebox Day 2 to see Doves. Will it be as great as the last time I saw them, in Glastonbury 2003? Mainly because there was space to dance and have fun!